Top 10 places to work in Canada

Top 10 places to work in Canada

One night last summer, as you were likely unwinding after a long, thankless day at the office, employees of Research In Motion loaded onto a bus for a very special evening. The Waterloo-based tech giant had rented out the Rogers Centre in Toronto and brought in U2 to play a private concert for its employees. On the “Man, do I wish I worked there” scale, this ranks about an 8.5 or nine out of 10.

Sounds like a great perk, right? Well, the Great Place to Work Institute has ranked the top places for employees in Canada. All findings are based on a survey of 40,000 Canucks that accounts for a variety of workplace factors. Did RIM and its rock star benefits make the list? Click through the following slides to see the top ten results for yourself.

10. L.V. Lomas Limited

Headquarters: Brampton, Ont.

Employees: 193

What L.V. Lomas thinks of its employees is splashed right across the company website’s home page: “To be the best in the industry, hire the best people.” Indeed, the chemical distributor appears to make a point of treating its workforce right – this is the second year running the company has appeared on the Great Place to Work Institute’s top 25 list. With almost 200 employees across four Canadian locations, L.V. Lomas also boasts two U.S. branches in Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash.

9. Keller Williams Ottawa Realty

Headquarters: Ottawa, Ont.

Employees: 295

Keller Williams has a longstanding position on the Great Place to Work Institute’s list, having cracked the top 25 in four of the last five years. According to the realtor’s website, KW’s Ottawa branch (Keller Williams is a major U.S. chain) has already become the “largest single real estate office in Ottawa” since opening in 2001. Last year, when it appeared at number eight on this same list, Keller Williams Ottawa was also named as the second-best Canadian employer for women by the Globe and Mail.

8. Precision BioLogic

Headquarters: Dartmouth, N.S.

Employees: 56

“Your stuff is just superior. I always say if you’re not using PBI, then you’re not using quality.” That’s a quote from a satisfied Precision BioLogic customer that appears proudly on the medical manufacturer’s website. And, considering the site is also filled with images of the company’s smiling employees, it’s quite apparent the privately-owned Maritime business puts value in its personal touch, something it achieves with the smallest number of employees on this year’s Great Place to Work’s list.

7. Microsoft Canada

Headquarters: Mississauga, Ont.

Employees: 1,028

While Microsoft Canada has become a mainstay on this list — it’s cracked the Great Place to Work Institute’s top 25 in three of the last four years — never has the company been a better place for Canadians to work. Having risen to the seventh spot, Canada’s arm of the U.S. tech pioneer boasts several employee programs that make work a little brighter each day. One of those is the “I Volunteer” initiative, which allows Microsoft Canada employees to take up to five days off per year to volunteer in their communities during work hours.

6. Protegra

Headquarters: Winnipeg, Man.

Employees: 68

At number six, Protegra is actually down three spots from last year (it ranked number three on 2009’s list), but don’t let the tiny dip put you off. The Winnipeg-based IT solutions company is no stranger to accolades. In 2006, Protegra was selected as one of the most “innovative, inspiring” workplaces in Winnipeg by the Winnipeg Free Press and was given the number one ranking for Best Small and Medium Employer in Canada by the Globe and Mail.

5. Devon Canada Corporation

Headquarters: Calgary, Alta.

Employees: 1,558

Normally, when a big corporation says it maintains a “small company feel that stems from our family-owned roots,” it’s little more than a grab for a few positive PR headlines. However, Devon Energy — a multinational operation with more than 5,000 employees — may just be telling the truth. The Canadian arm of the Oklahoma City-based corporation, which features the above proclamation on its website, has been featured on the Great Places to Work Institution’s list two years running and was named the best Calgary oil and gas company to work for by CalgaryInc magazine.

4. SAS Institute (Canada) Inc.

Headquarters: Toronto, Ont.

Employees: 241

SAS, the world’s largest privately held software company, opened its Canadian doors in 1988 and now maintains offices in Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. And its Toronto headquarters gives its tech employees one of the most eco-friendly atmospheres to work in. SAS Canada’s downtown office is the country’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified building, consuming as much as 65 per cent less energy than the typical Ontario workplace each year.

3. Google Canada

Headquarters: Toronto, Ont.

Employees: 101

By Google Canada’s own estimation, it “is not a conventional company, and [it doesn’t] intend to become one.” That’s just one of the messages displayed on the search engine’s corporate site, which offers a “Top 10 reasons to work at Google” list featuring a range of employee perks, benefits and stock option programs. Hubris aside, Google Canada is — by most accounts — a fine place to work, having placed in the top 10 of the Great Place to Work Institution’s rankings two years running. Last year, the company was ranked number one overall in Canada.

2. NetApp Canada Ltd.

Headquarters: Mississauga, Ont.

Employees: 71

Where the Great Place to Work Institution’s list is concerned, NetApp Canada rocketed onto the scene only this year. The local arm of the California-based data storage company never appeared in the GPWI rankings before leaping right into the number two ranking in 2010. The company’s strong standing with its Canadian employees is mirrored in its positive workplace relations in the U.S., where it’s landed on Fortune magazine’s Best (American) Companies to Work For list eight years in a row

1. Environics Communications Inc.

Headquarters: Toronto, Ont.

Employees: 76

Environics Communications has dominated the Great Place to Work Institution’s rankings for the last four years, appearing in the top five each year. Until now, though, it has never reached the number one position. According to the Canadian Press, Environics rewards company loyalty by offering generous long-service rewards to its employees. Hailed by GPWI as a “high-trust work environment,” workers who have been with the company for five years get $5,000 toward travel expenses and an additional week of vacation per year.


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