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Whaddya know? Some bosses do listen Add to ...

Telus, nationwide: My personal assistant

In this age of crazy business, who couldn't use a little help with errands or jobs around the house? If you work at Telus, that help is part of your compensation package. Workers earn credits toward a concierge service to use as they wish. Each credit buys 20 minutes of time.

As a Telus regional manager in British Columbia, Steve Jenkins, 43, often works 50-60 hour weeks. So when he moved from Telus's Calgary office to Kelowna, he didn't have a lot of time to find a spot to moor his boat. Overwhelmed with the options after conducting an initial search online, he asked the concierge service to help. He's also used it to source firewood and to find a perfect B&B for a special occasion.

Advertising specialist Jeremy Baxter, 25, used the service to pack up his North Vancouver apartment for a recent move. Last year, the service did his Christmas shopping. He'll be using it again this holiday season.

"It's a recognition that employees' personal lives are important," says Telus spokesperson Shawn Hall, who used the service last summer while he was away camping, to water his plants.

Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, Burnaby. Childcare from the ground up

When Ritchie Bros. planned its move from Richmond, B.C. to Burnaby, it sent out extensive surveys asking staff what they wanted at the new company headquarters. One overwhelming request: on-site childcare. The company ultimately chose to build and operate the childcare centre itself, rather than outsource the operation as many companies do.

The result is a parent's (not to mention a child's) dream: 5,500 square feet of teeny child-sized tables, chairs, cubbies, washroom stalls, developmental toys, arts and crafts supplies, books and more - almost all made with natural materials, with very little plastic in sight. Outdoors, there is a play area with slides, ride-on toys and enormous sandbox.

The centre is open 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Three rooms serve children from infancy to elementary-school age. It is licensed to serve up to 49 children. The centre also operates as a day camp during the summer and on school holidays). Employees pay a subsidized rate.

When Ritchie's new facility held its open house last year, more than one employee walking through the childcare centre was overheard telling their partner, "Okay, we can have that baby now."

CH2M Hill, nationwide: Flex time

Peter Mallory, 47, an engineer by training, has worked as a project manager for years. He always dreamed of managing his own project, building his own home, but he figured he'd probably have to quit his job in order to do it. But CH2M Hill, a multinational infrastructure engineering firm, agreed to let him work a 3-day week for five months in 2003 so he could build his bungalow in Ottawa's Revelstoke neighbourhood. Each week he used one vacation day and took one day off without pay.

His boss did have some reservations. Mr. Mallory is a senior employee and, at the time, he was senior executive responsible for a staff of 250. But the break to build his home clearly didn't hurt his career. He's now a senior vice president in charge of 300 people.

"I'll never forget that they trusted me and respected me and gave me that opportunity, because it was something I always wanted to do."

Environics Communications, Toronto: See the world

Colleen DeVan-Stewart, 51, recently returned from the trip of a lifetime: 12 days in Italy, stretching from Rome down to the Sicilian islands, including a couple of nights on pricey Capri. The trip, with her husband, was paid for by her employer, but it wasn't a business trip. It was a thank-you.

After five years at Environics Communications, employees receive $5,000 to travel anywhere they haven't been before. After eight years, they get $3,000 to go somewhere they haven't been in Canada. And after 15 years, they get a $15,000 travel bonus. Italy was Ms. DeVan-Stewart's 15-year trip.

"I like the idea of the trips because it's different than just giving them cash," says president Bruce MacLellan, who runs his public-relations firm by the philosophy that the most important things in his workers' lives happens outside the office. "We have a bonus/profit-sharing plan here as well, and people will put their money into their RRSP or their mortgage. But if I ask them in five years what they used that bonus money for five years ago, they couldn't remember. But everybody remembers the trips they took."

RBC: Nationwide: Emergency care for your parents

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