Meet the 50 Best Small and Medium Employers in Canada

The definitive 2015 list of organizations that have mastered the art of employee engagement

 
Written by Staff

You don’t have to be a massive corporation to get your people excited to show up each day. Look no further than the 50 organizations on the 2015 list of the Best Small and Medium Employers (BSME) in Canada for proof.

These are employers who’ve figured out how to get their employees to really care about their work, to feel motivated to come in each day, and to strive to excel in everything they do. In other words, they’ve mastered the tricky art of employee engagement. And we believe that’s worth celebrating.

Produced by Aon Hewitt and the Queen’s School of Business Centre for Business Venturing in partnership with Canadian Business and PROFITguide.com, the BSME program ranks participating companies by their employee-engagement scores and other factors, as measured by surveys of each firm’s employees, HR team and executives. The program is open to companies with 50 to 399 Canadian employees.

These organizations have turned the people on their payrolls into engaged, motivated, dedicated employees using a variety of tips, tactics and strategies, some of which you can read about in the pages that follow. You can learn about how one 2015 BSME laureate gives its employees the agency they want, and also read five of our favourite engagement strategies from this year’s winners. And you can find even more in the December 2014 issue of Canadian Business, on newsstands November 5th.

Whether you’re expanding your workforce or simply trying to get better performance out of the one you have, the BSME class of 2015 offer plenty of useful advice.

Want More Engagement Tips? Check Out Our Coverage of the 2014 and 2013 BSME Winners

Meet the 50 Best Small and Medium Employers in Canada for 2015

In alphabetical order: A-B | C-E | F-K | L-R | S-Z

Achievers

Toronto
Industry: Internet Software & Services
Employees in Canada: 150

Cool tool: You’d expect a company that sells employee-rewards software to be good at keeping its workers happy, but communication and transparency may have more of a role than perks and benefits in making Achievers a great place to work. Nine-minute meetings conducted daily at 11.51 a.m. bring every employee of the company together to hear good news, to highlight financial and sales figures and to meet new hires. These brief, regular reminders of how the company is doing keeps everyone focused on the big-picture goals and decreases the likelihood of morale-crushing rumours taking hold. It’s an open ethos that’s reinforced with quarterly meetings in which executives answer all employee questions.

Allteck Line Contractors Inc.

Langley, B.C.
Industry: Energy Equipment & Services
Employees in Canada: 338

Engagement philosophy: “Communicating is about listening first, seeking others’ opinions and learning from others’ knowledge,” states Allteck’s statement of values. “And this is how we develop the best solutions. We keep this two-way communication going within our teams and with our customers by being upfront with issues and with praise, and by resolving problems in partnership.”

Arrow Professional Services

Toronto
Industry: Consumer Services
Employees in Canada: 200
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Assumption Life

Moncton
Industry: Insurance
Employees in Canada: 183
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Back in Motion Rehab Inc.

Surrey, B.C.
Industry: Health Care Services
Employees in Canada: 190

Smart strategy: Employees lead all aspects of Back in Motion’s wellness initiatives by actively participating in social, health and safety, diversity and social responsibility committees.

Benefits by Design Inc. (BBD)

Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Industry: Insurance
Employees in Canada: 87

Perks that work: To better facilitate work-life balance, BBD added a hobby subsidy, which gives each employee money to invest in an interest that’s not related to health and fitness (for which the firm offers a separate incentive). Employees have used this to support everything from camping trips to scrapbooking to blogging to gardening.

The Berkeley

Halifax
Industry: Health Care Services
Employees in Canada: 138
*

BlueShore Financial

North Vancouver, B.C.
Industry: Consumer Finance
Employees in Canada: 313

Smart strategy: Change is hard for many workforces, but it’s a lot easier when it’s not all coming from above. That’s why when BlueShore rebranded in 2013, it appointed internal “brand ambassadors” to answer questions and help their fellow workers through the process. It kept productivity and engagement up throughout the rebranding, which  earned the ambassadors a second set of duties when the company moved offices this year. (BlueShore made them the point-people for the shift, giving them a special advance tour of the new building to allow them to guide their co-workers when move day came.) The result: no dip in productivity or engagement throughout two major changes.

BuildDirect

Vancouver
Industry: eCommerce
Employees in Canada: 238
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Bull, Housser & Tupper, LLP

Vancouver
Industry: Professional Services
Employees in Canada: 175

Smart strategy: To get everyone on board with a major move—the firm recently changed offices after 40 years in the same location, moving to an interim space while awaiting completion of a new headquarters—management got everyone on board by canvassing them about what they wanted in their new workspace. Employees provided “essential input” on everything from furniture selection to office layout to colour schemes, giving them a sense of ownership in the move.

In alphabetical order: A-B | C-E | F-K | L-R | S-Z | Back to top

Canadian Internet Registration Authority

Ottawa
Industry: Internet Software & Services
Employees in Canada: 72

Smart strategy: At the start of each fiscal year, CIRA’s leadership team takes everyone offsite to share and explain the plan for the coming 12 months. This ensures all employees really understand where the organization is headed.

CBCI Telecom Canada Inc.

Lachine, Que.
Industry: Communications Equipment
Employees in Canada: 73
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CUMIS

Burlington, Ont.
Industry: Insurance
Employees in Canada: 312
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Cybertech Group of Companies

Edmonton
Industry: Engineering Consulting & Software
Employees in Canada: 112

Perks that work: Many Cybertech employees are also shareholders who get a portion of the firm’s profits, which adds an extra element of motivation to their work.

D.L.G.L. Ltd.

Blainville, Que.
Industry: Software
Employees in Canada: 87
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DevFacto Technologies Inc.

Edmonton
Industry: IT Services
Employees in Canada: 65

Smart strategy: DevFacto keeps engagement up in large part by giving each employee autonomy and agency in his or her work. Read more how the company does it here.

The Dilawri Group

Winnipeg
Industry: Automobiles
Employees in Canada: 389

Engagement philosophy: “We want our customers, and especially our internal customers (our employees), to be happy to walk into our buildings every single day. Our belief is that if we have happy employees we will have even happier customers.”

Edmonton Southside Primary Care Network

Edmonton
Industry: Health Care Services
Employees in Canada: 88

Smart strategy: ESPCN recently increased the number of frontline managers to six from four to encourage better two-way communication with employees.

Etelesolv Inc.

Lachine, Que.
Industry: Telecommunication Services
Employees in Canada: 75

Engagement philosophy: “We want our people to not only love their work, but to love coming to work,” says president and founder Christopher Thierry. “Saying it doesn’t make this happen. We need to do this consciously by trying to foster open communication, feedback and co-operation between all employees.”

In alphabetical order: A-B | C-E | F-K | L-R | S-Z | Back to top

FIRMA Foreign Exchange Corp.

Edmonton
Industry: Financial Services
Employees in Canada: 160

Cool tool: FIRMA has branches all over the world, which can create some communications challenges between employees. To overcome this, the company has invested in videoconferencing technology that allows co-workers to see one another when talking, allowing them to better get to know one another.

Forensic Technology WAI Inc.

Cote St. Luc, Que.
Industry: Computers & Peripherals
Employees in Canada: 138

Cool tool: The company uses its intranet to share business results, customer success stories and even bad news in real time. This greatly enhances transparency and makes people feel that they’re in the loop.

GEF Seniors Housing

Edmonton
Industry: Health Care Services
Employees in Canada: 388
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Gibraltar Solutions Inc.

Mississauga, Ont.
Industry: IT Services
Employees in Canada: 51

Cool tool: To make sure everyone is working as productively as possible, Gibraltar has embraced a bring your own device (BYOD) policy that allows people to choose which type of computer they’d like to use. Employees are given a $2,300 stipend every three years to spend on their preferred technology.

Global Relay Communications Inc.

Vancouver
Industry: Software
Employees in Canada: 260

Smart strategy: In 2012, to get everyone thinking about—and working towards—the long-term success of the business, Global Relay instituted a long-term incentive plan tied to its 2016 revenue target. If the firm meets the goal, every employee hired before the start of the plan will receive a bonus of one full year’s salary.

Grantek Systems Integration

Burlington, Ont.
Industry: IT Services
Employees in Canada: 84

Smart strategy: The average employee will likely never meet the person at the top of their company’s chain of command, much less sit down for a discussion. Grantek doesn’t believe in maintaining that distance, with all prospective new hires having a chance to meet with the CEO before being hired, and quarterly company town halls in which the top executive answers employee questions. Knowing their concerns are being addressed by the C-suite helps make all Grantek employees, regardless of position, feel valued. Social events in which senior execs go go-carting with the rank-and-file (among other activities) reinforce the message that all employees matter.

Habanero Consulting Group

Vancouver
Industry: Software
Employees in Canada: 78

Perks that work: Habanero has really embraced the “innovation through collaboration” ethos. So much so that when one employee suggested creating a space for solitude, the company listened. The worker-designed, company-funded “tranquility room” that came as a result is just one example of a firm embracing ground-up ideas instead of imposing them from above. It’s all part of the company’s efforts to make its employees believe in the organization—and their role in making it a success.

Innovation Place

Saskatoon
Industry: Consumer Services
Employees in Canada: 98

Engagement philosophy: “Continuous improvement is the cornerstone of our culture,” Innovation Place says. “So we make sure employees know it is not only safe to ask questions, it is expected.”

iQmetrix

Vancouver
Industry: Internet Software & Services
Employees in Canada: 255

Engagement philosophy: “We generally have colleagues that have chosen to be in an unstructured environment instead of a structured one, but that doesn’t mean they have to accept things that don’t work,” the company says. “Each of us embraces a role in growing and strengthening iQmetrix.”

Jayman Group of Companies

Calgary
Industry: Household Durables
Employees in Canada: 293

Smart strategy: Jayman encourages each employee to “own” their own development by creating their own career plan, complete with goals and milestones.

Klick Health

Toronto
Industry: Health Care Technology
Employees in Canada: 305

Perks that work: Klick offers a concierge service meant to make its employees’ lives easier. The concierge service will order dinner for people working late, handle dry cleaning, arrange a honeymoon and research baby shower gifts. Not only does this reinforce that the company appreciates the hard work put forward by its staff, it also serves as a potent recruiting tool.

In alphabetical order: A-B | C-E | F-K | L-R | S-Z | Back to top

Mennonite Savings and Credit Union

Kitchener, Ont.
Industry: Financial Services
Employees in Canada: 173

Smart strategy: MSCU demystifies the sometimes-confusing world of employee benefits by giving each staff member a customized total rewards statement designed with fun graphics in an easy-to-read format.

National Leasing

Winnipeg
Industry: Financial Services
Employees in Canada: 327

Perks that work: National Leasing has a wellness-focused head office, complete with a gym, nap room and free fruit—all initiatives launched at the suggestion of employees.

Nulogy

Toronto
Industry: Software

Cool tool: Any company can provide cake, but at Nulogy, it’s not just for birthdays: Employees get a party in their honour each year on the anniversary of their joining the software development firm. These public celebration are a nice way to underscore individual achievements, but the emphasis at Nulogy is on collective responsibility and team cohesion.  Monthly sessions, dubbed “mind-melds,” bring everyone together to discuss what they’re working on and how it might affect others in the organization, an effort to prevent teams from getting siloed into their own projects. The meetings energize employees and make them understand the value of their work to the organization as a whole.

Nurse Next Door

Vancouver
Industry: Health Care Services
Employees in Canada: 177

Smart strategy: Nurse Next Door lets employees at all levels nominate one another for good work done and recognizes three winners publicly at a meeting each day.

Optimus SBR Inc.

Toronto
Industry: Consumer Services
Employees in Canada: 66

Smart strategy: Optimus SBR challenges employees to venture into areas of the business they’ve never worked in before, backed by peer and management support in the transition.

Powerline Plus Ltd.

Toronto
Industry: Multi-Utilities
Employees in Canada: 257
*

Protegra

Winnipeg
Industry: Software
Employees in Canada: 78

Cool tool: Protegra uses innovation games and other methods to actively encourage employees to share their ideas about the future of the company.

Quadra Chemicals Ltd.

Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que.
Industry: Chemicals
Employees in Canada: 237
*

RL Solutions

Toronto
Industry: Software
Employees in Canada: 132

Engagement philosophy: “Within our team, the character of each individual that is hired is paramount,” says CEO Sanjay Malaviya. “Integrity, honesty, sincerity and genuine caring are valued well ahead of experience and intelligence. That’s not to say that we don¹t hire smart, knowledgeable people—we just demand excellence in character first. Poor character is a deal-breaker. Just one bad hire, one person with poor judgment, one person wanting to gossip, can create much damage within the RL culture.”

RLB LLP

Guelph, Ont.
Industry: Professional Services (Public Accounting)
Employees in Canada: 105
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Ryan ULC

Mississauga, Ont.
Industry: Financial Services
Employees in Canada: 140

In alphabetical order: A-B | C-E | F-K | L-R | S-Z | Back to top

Solvera Solutions

Regina
Industry: IT Services
Employees in Canada: 189
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The Sovereign General Insurance Company

Calgary
Industry: Insurance
Employees in Canada: 252
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StarTech.com

London, Ont.
Industry: Computers & Peripherals
Employees in Canada: 240
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Streamline Mechanical

Sherwood Park, Alta.
Industry: Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels
Employees in Canada: 234

Engagement philosophy: “If it was only about benefits and perks, anyone could do it,” Streamline Mechanical says. “The key to being a top employer is developing a unique culture built upon a foundation of great people and strong relationships. Done right, the culture emerges on pillars comprised of programs designed to enhance the knowledge and core competencies of individuals and bring employees together in a positive way to create a sense of belonging.”

Summit Pipeline Services ULC

Rosslyn, Ont.
Industry: Construction & Engineering
Employees in Canada: 215

Smart strategy: How do you engage employees when your workforce is made up largely of transient union workers in an industry with extremely high turnover rates? If you’re Summit Pipeline Services, you promote a sense of ownership by providing recognition—both monetary and social—of positive behaviours and attitudes.

TIC Travel Insurance Coordinators Ltd.

Toronto
Industry: Insurance
Employees in Canada: 228
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Unitron

Kitchener, Ont.
Industry: Health Care Equipment & Supplies
Employees in Canada: 191

Cool tool: Unitron employees cite open communication from senior management as a key motivator in their work. The company fosters this through regular town hall meetings and other communications methods that not only identify where the firm is, but also where employees can align their efforts to better meet corporate goals.

Vigilant Global

Montreal
Industry: Software
Employees in Canada: 114

Smart strategy: Vigilant Global solicits employee ideas for what type of continuing education programs to offer and how to deliver them most effectively.

YWCA Metro Vancouver

Vancouver
Industry: Not-for-profit
Employees in Canada: 214

Smart strategy: Rather than mandating changes that need to be made, YWCA Metro Vancouver encourages staff to identify the trends affecting clients, to develop relevant programming and to identify key advocacy issues. This not only makes employees feel empowered, it also enhances the social value of the organization’s work.

Participate in the 2016 BSME program and receive a free, detailed report on your company results.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com

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