As people transition back to the office, Canada's Top 100 Employers 2023 have been listening to what people want -- through employee surveys, town halls and conversations around the virtual water cooler -- and it's not the way it used to be.
Nearly three years ago, most people travelled to their workplaces as a matter of course. Then the pandemic hit and suddenly everyone went to work at their kitchen tables. They got more comfortable with remote technology and the cat's ever-increasing ego on Zoom. Productivity continued to improve, along with work-life balance. It's no wonder so many workers don't want to return to stressful commuting -- at least not full time.
For the winners of this year's competition, selected by Mediacorp Canada Inc., flexibility is the answer as they continue to set the standard for doing business in Canada with best practices. In many cases, that may mean simply going with whatever works best for the worker. For instance, Hatch asked employees to share feedback on their professional goals, personal wellness, and where, when and how they would like to work, in order to develop individual plans to suit each employee's needs.
Likewise, after conducting an employee survey on the return to the office, Digital Extremes is offering full-time remote, full-time in office and hybrid work options. The company is also enticing people back with a head office that features massage chairs, healthy snacks, arcade and video game stations and an onsite fitness facility with subsidized memberships.
As another example, BASF recently moved offices to better adapt to increased levels of hybrid work. The new location boasts open concept designs plus collaboration and innovation spaces for connecting -- and also incorporates a number of green features, including a living wall, electric vehicle charging stations and external green spaces.
But while flexible work arrangements have become more important than ever, job seekers should also look at what else Canada's Top 100 Employers 2023 have to offer. There are opportunities for career development, continuous learning, community involvement, financial incentives and generous health benefits, including increased mental health services. After all, the last three years have not been without stress -- and helping employees manage that is a high priority for many of this year's Top 100.
– Diane Jermyn
From the official announcement magazine for Canada's Top 100 Employers (2023), published on November 18, 2022 in The Globe and Mail.
- 3M Canada Company
- ABB Canada
- Aboriginal Peoples Television Network Inc. / APTN
- Accenture Inc.
- Adobe Systems Canada Inc.
- Agriculture Financial Services Corporation / AFSC
- ArcelorMittal Dofasco G.P.
- Assembly of First Nations
- Bank of Canada
- BASF Canada Inc.
- BC Public Service
- BDO Canada LLP
- Bell Canada
- Best Buy Canada Ltd.
- Boston Consulting Group Canada ULC, The
- British Columbia Investment Management Corp. / BCI
- Business Development Bank of Canada
- CAE Inc.
- Canada Energy Regulator
- Canada Revenue Agency / CRA
- Canadian National Railway Company
- Canadian Pacific Railway Limited
- Carleton University
- Citi Canada
- CoLab Software Inc.
- College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, The
- Creative Options Regina, Inc.
- Danone Canada
- Dentons Canada LLP
- Desjardins Group / Mouvement Desjardins
- Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc.
- Digital Extremes Ltd.
- Emera Inc.
- Employment and Social Development Canada
- Enbridge Inc.
- Export Development Canada
- Fidelity Canada
- Ford Motor Company of Canada Ltd.
- Fowler Bauld & Mitchell Ltd.
- GHD Canada Holdings Inc.
- Hatch Ltd.
- Hershey Canada Inc.
- Hospital for Sick Children, The
- IGM Financial Inc.
- Imperial Oil Limited
- Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
- Inter Pipeline Ltd.
- Irving Oil
- PCL Construction
- Penguin Random House Canada Ltd.
- Pomerleau Inc.
- Procter & Gamble Inc.
- Rio Tinto
- Ross Video Ltd.
- Royal Bank of Canada
- Samsung Electronics Canada Inc.
- Sanofi Canada
- SaskEnergy Incorporated
- Schneider Electric Canada Inc.
- Shell Canada Limited
- Simon Fraser University
- Sobeys Inc.
- Stryker Canada ULC
- Suncor Energy Inc.
- TD Bank Group
- Teck Resources Limited
- TELUS Communications Inc.
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. / TMMC
The workplace Revolution
Canada's Top 100 Employers are grappling with the fastest change they've ever seen
Every once in a while, a complete disruption upends a major part of society. You could look back to the impact of electricity on the home. Or to the internet on commerce and communication. And in 2022, you have to add the astonishing effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the workplace -- in just two years.
"In the previous 20 years, the changes in employment practices we tracked were evolutionary in nature," says Richard Yerema, executive editor at Mediacorp Canada, which runs the Canada's Top 100 Employers competition. "Benefits and policies would improve and expand, one by one over time. But the last couple of years has really challenged everybody in how to manage the workplace. It's been revolutionary in its speed."
The big change, of course, is that vast numbers of Canadian office workers continue to work from home at least part of the time, and it's pretty clear things will stay that way long after the pandemic is considered completely over. Many, if not most, of the winners of the Canada's Top 100 Employers (2023) competition have instituted some form of hybrid work program. Staff often come to the office only when necessary, or, say, on a regular two days a week, while many others are, with their employers' agreement, working remotely full-time.
Naturally, employees whose job requires an in-person presence are at their work site – many stayed throughout the pandemic. But it's difficult to find any Top Employers who are insisting that all employees come to the office five days a week, every week. "I'm not aware of any," says Yerema.
Leaders among the Top Employers are still assessing the impact. One of the most sagacious is Bernard Lord, CEO of the health company Medavie and former premier of New Brunswick, from 1997 to 2006.
"The pandemic and what happened in 2020 forced us all to reconsider some of the things we thought were unchangeable," he says, "and we accelerated change significantly because we had to." Now, with the new systems in place, he says, "the relationship between the employer and employee has changed. It is transforming what employees expect."
That's very clear in recruitment, where the ability to work remotely has become a critical piece for applicants. "It's one of the first things they ask," says Lord. "Can I work from home? Do I have to be in the office all the time? What are your rules? And three years ago, no one would ask that question."
For reform-minded leaders like him -- "I am a progressive Conservative," he likes to say – the whole underpinning of traditional workplace life is being swept away. "It's just ignited this desire to be far more flexible, and move away from what I call the Industrial Age philosophy of work, where everybody has to be a clock puncher and be there at a certain time, eight days a week, and take 10-minute breaks. Now people work from home, they may have kids, so they work six hours and then do the other two later."
But for Lord, there's a next step in flexibility, especially since part of his company's business is emergency medical services, where everyone has to be on site for their shift. It is time itself.
"Maybe some people are willing to work only four days a week. Can we accommodate that? Or people want to work eight months in the year and have four months off back to back. Is that possible?
"Now, we're not there yet," Lord continues, "but we're forcing ourselves to ask those questions, to say, Okay, what's the next step in this evolution of work? What's the next step of making this environment even better for the top talent so they choose us?"
All of which is very relevant amid Canada's much chronicled labour shortage – "it's real," Lord says. Kristina Leung, managing editor at Mediacorp Canada, notes that in the past two years, many employees have felt a sense of disengagement.
"Folks have been taking the time to reevaluate and think about what's important to them. There's a lot of selectiveness – where do I want to spend my time, what kind of environment, what kind of organization do I really want to commit to?
"That means employers really need to shore up what they offer in order to compete in the market. And, of course, they also want to retain the folks they have, and that means ensuring that they're feeling engaged and appreciated and seen and heard and valued."
Good advice in the middle of a revolution.