Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Top small and medium employers play outsized role

Canada’s top small and medium employers offer share purchase plans and the more daring have progressive initiatives, such as unlimited vacation policies – increasingly popular in this sector.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

You don't have to be big to be best. Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers 2017 offer competitive benefits that can rival any larger company.

This year's winning organizations display a wide variety of best practices that you might not have expected to find in private-sector commercial enterprises with fewer than 500 employees.

Typically, these include strong support for ongoing career development, formal mentoring programs, maternity and parental top-up payments, flexible health benefits with wellness spending accounts, plus alternative work options that make personal life easier to balance.

Story continues below advertisement

Many also offer share purchase plans and the more daring have progressive initiatives, such as unlimited vacation policies – increasingly popular in this sector.

Additionally, many offer the same perks as the biggest employers. If you want workplace bling, you can find on-site fitness facilities with personal trainers, lunch-time yoga, employee lounges with fresh fruit and gluten-free snacks, popcorn, Popsicles, a beer and wine fridge, or even a full-service kitchen serving breakfast and lunch. Of course, table tennis, foosball and video games are de rigueur, along with the occasional volleyball court and outdoor skating rink.

Beyond the frills, you're more likely to feel engaged at a smaller workplace where everyone counts and the boss knows your name. There may also be more opportunities to move up, as many are growing at an incredible pace, particularly tech companies, which are evolving from their startup phase. Some report nearly doubling their work force over the past year, so are truly the nation's job makers.

Whether you're a skilled millennial looking for the right fit or a new business looking at how to step up your game, it's worth taking a look at what Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers 2017 are doing.

Methodology

Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers competition recognizes exceptional small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Canada. The competition is limited to private-sector commercial organizations with fewer than 500 employees. Non-profit organizations are not eligible.

The Top 100 editors at Toronto-based Mediacorp Canada Inc. evaluate employers according to the same eight key areas used for judging in the national competition of Canada's Top 100 Employers:

Story continues below advertisement

– Physical workplace.

– Work and social atmosphere.

– Health, financial and family benefits.

– Vacation and time off.

– Employee communications focused on how employers capture employee feedback.

– Performance management.

Story continues below advertisement

– Training and skills development.

– Community involvement.

Employers are compared with other organizations in their field to determine which ones offer the most progressive and forward-thinking programs.

Whether an employer has positive employment growth is also a factor in determining the basic cutoff point. As well, the unique initiatives of each employer are taken into account.

The list

/N SPRO Inc., Montreal. Computer systems design; 70 employees. Encourages employees to become owners through a share purchase plan that's available to all employees.

360insights, Whitby, Ont. Computer software; 148 employees. Offers an unlimited vacation policy for its employees.

Abilis Solutions, Montreal. Computer software; 127 employees. Features lunch-time employee-led yoga classes at head office, plus free baskets of fresh fruit delivered weekly.

Accompass, Toronto. Business consulting; 33 employees. Provides a number of fun events during the year, from an urban scavenger hunt to an annual ping-pong tournament.

ACL Services Ltd., Vancouver. Computer software; 205 employees. Encourages employees to save for the longer term with matching RRSP contributions.

Aeryon Labs Inc., Waterloo, Ont. Unmanned aircraft design and manufacturing; 109 employees. Offers a health spending account that lets employees extend their health coverage.

Agnora Inc., Collingwood, Ont. Glass and glazing contractors; 62 employees. Encourages ongoing employee development with generous tuition subsidies for job-related courses.

Ambyint Inc., Calgary. Computer software; 28 employees. Provides an employee lounge complete with video games, foosball and table hockey, as well as free snacks every day.

Artis REIT, Winnipeg. Real estate investment trust; 178 employees. Lets employees share in the company's financial success with year-end bonuses and a profit-sharing plan.

Auto West Ltd., Richmond, B.C. Automotive dealers; 210 employees. Features a green roof at head office with rooftop gardening plots growing vegetables, herbs and fruit.

Benevity, Inc., Calgary. Computer software; 331 employees. Provides parental leave top-up payments for new moms and dads, including adoptive parents.

Big Viking Games Inc., London, Ont. Video game developer; 96 employees. Provides employees with a unique employee recognition system using "Vikoins," which are coins awarded to peers for their excellent work that can be used to purchase items.

Caltrax Inc., Calgary. Support for rail transportation; 85 employees. Sponsors a number of fun social events for its employees and their families, including a golf tournament, summer camping and holiday party.

CBCL Ltd., Halifax. Engineering; 260 employees. Offers a formal "time in lieu" program that lets employees bank overtime for use later.

Champion Petfoods LP, Edmonton. Dog and cat food manufacturing; 294 employees. Continues to grow at an incredible pace, adding more than 45 new positions in the past year.

Chandos Construction Ltd., Edmonton. Construction and project management contractors; 356 employees. Helps employees balance work and their personal lives through a range of alternative work arrangements.

Clearpath Robotics Inc., Kitchener. Robotic manufacturing; 112 employees. Encourages employees to become owners through a share purchase plan, available to all.

ClearTech Industries Inc., Saskatoon. Chemical and equipment distribution; 145 employees. Provides employees with a fitness room featuring a treadmill, elliptical trainer and shower facilities.

Clio, Burnaby, B.C. Computer software; 168 employees. Provides healthy snack options plus a "beverage island" featuring sparkling water, sodas, loose-leaf teas, wine and beer.

CM Labs Simulations Inc., Montreal. Custom computer programming; 116 employees. Encourages employees to recruit their friends with generous referral bonuses for each successful hire.

Community Trust Co., Mississauga, Ont. Financial products and services; 69 employees. Supports employees with older children through a postsecondary scholarship program.

Connected Lab Inc., Toronto. Computer software; 38 employees. Hosts quarterly off-site "Disconnects" such as a weekend camping trip to Algonquin Park.

CONTAX Inc., Toronto. Information technology consulting; 60 employees. Provides new consultants with extensive training in their first two years, spending up to $20,000.

Copperleaf Technologies Inc., Vancouver. Computer software; 85 employees. Encourages employees to give back to the community with paid volunteer time, as well as matching funds to their charitable donations.

Cowell Motors Ltd., Richmond, B.C. New car dealerships; 220 employees. Encourages employee team building through participation in events such as the Vancouver Sun Run and the Tough Mudder race.

CREIT Management LP, Toronto. Real estate investment trust; 156 employees. Encourages employees to become owners through a share purchase plan with matching company contributions.

Crestline Coach Ltd., Saskatoon. Specialized automotive manufacturing; 180 employees. Considers previous work experience when setting vacation or entitlements for experienced personnel.

Croesus Finansoft Inc., Laval, Que. Financial management software and services; 159 employees. Helps the next generation gain professional experience through paid internships, co-ops and summer student roles.

Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc., Toronto. Architecture firm; 190 employees. Lets everyone share in the company's immediate successes through a year-end bonus program.

Direct Focus Marketing Communications Inc., Winnipeg. Marketing; 139 employees. Rewards excellent employee performance through on-the-spot awards, individual performance bonuses and tailored and unique awards.

EMKAY Inc., Toronto. Automotive fleet management; 24 employees. Offers generous financial bonuses for the completion of specific programs.

eSentire, Cambridge, Ont. Computer software; 221 employees. Continues to grow at an impressive pace, adding more than 40 full-time employees in Canada last year.

Excel Funds Management Inc., Mississauga. Financial products and services; 34 employees. Encourages employees to save for the longer term with contributions to a matching RRSP plan.

Fresche Solutions Inc., Montreal. Computer systems design; 82 employees. Helps employees keep their skills sharp through a variety of in-house training programs, tuition subsidies for job-related courses and subsidies for professional accreditation.

FreshBooks, Toronto. Software publishers; 243 employers. Maintains a "Compassion Fund" to help employees through extenuating circumstances, such as covering the cost of a stolen bike or an emergency vet bill.

Fusion Project Management Ltd., Vancouver. Interior design; 39 employees. Provides secure parking and showers for bicycle commuters.

Geo. H. Young & Co. Ltd., Winnipeg. Customs brokerage and trade; 121 employees. Encourages employees to get involved in the community with paid volunteer time as well as matching funds to their charitable donations.

Great Little Box Company Ltd., Richmond, B.C. Box manufacturing; 256 employees. Presents two top-performing employees with the "Award of Excellence" every month, including $500 to the charity of their choice.

GroupHEALTH Global Benefit Solutions Inc., Surrey, B.C. Health benefits plans; 117 employees. Recognizes exceptional work performance through individual bonuses, peer-to-peer recognition awards, on-the-spot awards and year-end bonuses.

GSOFT, Montreal. Computer software; 142 employees. Provides an employee lounge complete with a skateboard half-pipe, video games, foosball and table tennis.

Harbour Air Group, Richmond, B.C. Passenger air transportation; 243 employees. Maintains a charitable focus on the environment and community-oriented projects, donating more than 800 flights in the past year to non-profit organizations through its Pink Friday sponsorship.

HB Studios Multimedia Ltd., Lunenburg, N.S. Video game developer; 78 employees. Offers new parents the convenience of on-site daycare when they are ready to return to work.

Hemmera Envirochem Inc., Burnaby, B.C. Environmental consulting; 181 employees. Offers employees who are new mothers the option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence.

HockeyTech Inc., Waterloo, Ont. Sports analytics information services; 45 employees. Offers up to five paid personal days off to help employees balance their work and personal lives.

Hostway Corp., Vancouver. Website hosting and management; 51 employees. Provides a quiet room for meditation and religious observance at their head office.

Igloo Software, Kitchener, Ont. Custom computer programming; 90 employees. Offers employees three weeks of starting vacation allowance, moving to four weeks after three years on the job.

Intelex Technologies Inc., Toronto. Software publishers; 350 employees. Manages an academic scholarship program for children of employees interested in pursuing postsecondary studies.

Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc. / IMS, Waterloo, Ont. Automotive telematics technology; 107 employees. Provides a generous health spending account of up to $2,400, allowing employees to top up levels of coverage as needed.

Voices.com Inc., London, Ont. Talent Agency; 94 employees. Lets everyone share in the fruits of their labour through profit-sharing.

iQmetrix, Vancouver. Computer programming; 317 employees. Encourages employees to keep active with access to an on-site fitness facility featuring exercise equipment and a private trainer.

Kenway Mack Slusarchuk Stewart LLP, Calgary. Accounting; 62 employees. Offers employees up to eight paid personal days, which can be scheduled throughout the year.

Kinaxis Inc., Ottawa. Software publishers; 282 employees. Hosts a "Hackathon Week" to challenge employees to utilize their skills and creativity to improve and innovate the company's products.

Lawton Partners Financial Planning Services Ltd., Winnipeg. Financial planning; 57 employees. Provides a health spending account of up to $1,000 a year, allowing employees to top up levels of coverage as needed.

McLeod Law LLP, Calgary. Law firm; 114 employees. Offers generous referral bonuses to employees who recruit candidates from their personal networks.

Medgate Inc., Toronto. Software development; 113 employees. Continues to create employment, adding 14 new full-time positions in the past year.

MessagePoint, Toronto. Communications management software; 52 employees. Cultivates an ownership culture through a share purchase plan, available to all employees.

Next Level Games Inc., Vancouver. Software publishers; 72 employees. Offers exceptional family-friendly benefits, including a subsidy for IVF for parents-to-be.

Nicola Wealth Management Ltd., Vancouver. Investment management; 135 employees. Supports a number of local, national and international charitable initiatives each year.

North Strategic Inc., Toronto. Marketing consulting; 61 employees. Provides three weeks of starting vacation allowance, paid time off during the winter holidays and paid personal days off.

Noseworthy Chapman Chartered Accountants, St. John's. Accounting; 55 employees. Offers phased-in work options for employees nearing retirement.

O2E Brands, Vancouver. Waste removal, moving and home services; 285 employees. Lets salaried employees share in the company's financial success through a profit-sharing plan.

People Store Staffing Solutions Inc., Mississauga, Ont. Human resource services; 67 employees. Celebrates exceptional employee performance through awards, including individual bonuses, long-service awards and an annual one-week club trip vacation.

Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP / s.r.l., Ottawa. Law firm; 113 employees. Supports new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents, with maternity and parental leave top-up payments.

Peto MacCallum Ltd., Toronto. Engineering; 172 employees. Offers students and new grads opportunities to gain career-level experience with summer-student roles and co-op placements.

Points, Toronto. Software development; 180 employees. Launched an in-house "Rabbit's Lair" competition to leverage employee ideas for the company's next business innovation.

Prophix Software Inc., Mississauga. Software development; 144 employees. Supports a number of charitable organizations, focusing on education, poverty, the environment and health.

Pushor Mitchell LLP, Kelowna, B.C. Law firm; 120 employees. Helps employees save for the future with matching RRSP contributions.

Pythian Group Inc., Ottawa. Computer systems design; 187 employees. Offers generous tuition subsidies for courses directly and indirectly related to employees' current position.

QHR Technologies Inc., Kelowna, B.C. Computer systems design; 200 employees. Invests in the education of the next generation through an academic scholarship program for children of employees.

R.F. Binnie & Associates Ltd., Burnaby, B.C. Engineering; 115 employees. Provides a health spending account of up to $850 a year, allowing employees to top up coverage as needed.

REDspace Inc., Bedford, N.S. Website design; 115 employees. Increased its work force by nearly 25 per cent in the past year.

Reid's Heritage Group of Companies, Cambridge, Ont. Housing construction; 246 employees. Offers in-house training, tuition subsidies for courses taken at outside institutions and subsidies for professional accreditation.

Reunion Island Coffee Ltd., Oakville, Ont. Coffee processing and wholesale; 85 employees. Supports a number of international charitable initiatives each year.

RLB LLP, Guelph, Ont. Accounting; 99 employees. Helps employees maintain work-life balance with paid time off during the summer months and paid personal days off.

Rocky Mountaineer, Vancouver. Rail tour operators; 193 employees. Offers new employees three weeks of vacation, moving to a maximum of five weeks for its longest-serving employees.

Rodan Energy Solutions Inc., Mississauga, Ont. Energy metering services; 47 employees. Helps employees prepare for the future with retirement planning assistance and matching RRSP contributions.

Rogers Insurance Ltd., Calgary. Insurance; 313 employees. Encourages employees to become owners through a share purchase plan, available to all employees.

Scalar Decisions Inc., Toronto. Information technology; 320 employees. Encourages employees to save for the future with matching RRSP contributions.

Sealweld Corporation Inc., Calgary. Oil and gas equipment manufacturing; 47 employees. Offers an academic scholarship program for children of employees interested in postsecondary studies.

Sekure Merchant Solutions, Montreal. Payment processing; 357 employees. Offers flexible work arrangements, including a telecommuting option, shortened and compressed work weeks and a 35-hour work-week option.

Selectpath Benefits & Financial Inc., London, Ont. Insurance and financial services; 26 employees. Maintains a charitable focus on children and those in need.

Sentry Investments Corp., Toronto. Investment management; 208 employees. Provides flexible hours to employees who are new mothers to help them transition to their new roles as parents.

Sigma Systems Canada LP, Toronto. Computer systems design; 103 employees. Provides phased-in work options for those nearing retirement.

Solink Corp., Kanata, Ont. Computer systems design; 18 employees. Provides numerous on-site amenities, including a cafeteria featuring healthy and special-diet menus.

Sortable, Kitchener, Ont. Computer software; 45 employees. Increased its full-time work force by 50 per cent in the past year.

Source Atlantic Ltd., Saint John. Industrial supplies and wholesale; 380 employees. Maintains a flexible health-benefits plan, allowing employees to top up levels of coverage as needed and transfer unused credits to additional salary or savings.

Speed Shift Media, New Westminster, B.C. Advertising; 48 employees. Offers referral bonuses for employees who recruit candidates from their personal networks.

Strategic Group, Calgary. Property management and development; 152 employees. Maintains a charitable focus on initiatives that support the arts and giving back to Calgary's impoverished.

Swish Maintenance Ltd., Peterborough, Ont. Cleaning equipment and supplies wholesale; 229 employees. Invests in continuing employee education with generous tuition subsidies for job-related courses.

TeraGo Networks Inc., Thornhill, Ont. Internet service providers; 165 employees. Encourages employees to become owners through a share purchase plan.

TextNow, Waterloo, Ont. Software publishers; 71 employees. Doubled the size of its work force in the past year with 37 new full-time positions.

theScore, Inc., Toronto. Internet publishing; 175 employees. Encourages employees to keep fit with free access to an on-site fitness room.

Trisura Guarantee Insurance Co., Toronto. Insurance; 99 employees. Longstanding employees move to a maximum of eight weeks of paid vacation over the course of their careers.

Uken Studios Inc., Toronto. Video game developer; 63 employees. Provides on-site amenities, including a nap room, employee lounge stocked with video games, a pool table and foosball.

Ventana Construction Corp., Burnaby, B.C. Commercial construction; 147 employees. Offers generous referral bonuses for employees who help recruit candidates from their personal networks.

Verafin Inc., St. John's. Custom computer programming; 205 employees. Offers a flexible "no limit" vacation policy, allowing employees to decide how much time they need in any given year.

Voonyx Inc., Lac-Beauport, Que. Software development; 26 employees. Encourages employees to lead active, healthy lives with a wellness spending account each year.

Watters Environmental Group Inc., Concord, Ont. Environmental consulting; 22 employees. Helps employees save for retirement with matching RRSP contributions.

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary. Breweries; 48 employees. Allows employees to enjoy casual dress daily.

Xenon Pharmaceuticals Inc., Burnaby, B.C. Biopharmaceutical research and development; 80 employees. Offers signing bonuses for some, year-end bonuses for all, and referral bonuses for employees who help recruit candidates.

Report an error
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Please note that our commenting partner Civil Comments is closing down. As such we will be implementing a new commenting partner in the coming weeks. As of December 20th, 2017 we will be shutting down commenting on all article pages across our site while we do the maintenance and updates. We understand that commenting is important to our audience and hope to have a technical solution in place January 2018.

Discussion loading… ✨