Manitoba's Top Employers


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3 It's getting easier and easier to have a baby in Manitoba. But, wait — it's not what you think. More than half of the companies on the Manitoba's Top Employers list offer maternity leave top-up to new mothers and precisely half make paternity leave top-up available to new dads. That's not all. Two companies, RAPID RTC, a software developer specializing in the automotive and agricultural sectors, and insurance giant Canada Life offer in vitro fertilization subsidies to employees who can't conceive naturally. RAPID RTC's subsidy is up to $15,000 while Canada Life offers $3,000. And two more employers, Manitoba Hydro and Roquette Canada, which operates a massive pea protein plant in Portage la Prairie, offer adoption assistance. Hydro's benefit tops out at $10,000 while Roquette offers $500. "Those types of benefits were unheard of 14 years ago, when the Manitoba competition was launched," said Tony Meehan, founder and president of Mediacorp Canada Inc., which organizes the annual Canada's Top 100 Employers project. The program is in its 20th year nationally and its 14th in Manitoba. Meehan said the editorial team at Mediacorp doesn't get tired of scouring the country looking for employers with interesting stories of doing things differently in their industry or region. "Each year, companies bare their souls to us. We have about 400 data points, including maternity leave, vacation allowance, training and a host of other factors we consider," he said. Here's how the Manitoba competition works: each employer is reviewed on eight criteria — physical workplace; work atmosphere and social; health, financial and family benefits; vacation and time off; employee communications; performance management; training and skills development; and community involvement. The criteria are the same as the national competition and have remained consistent since the project was launched two decades ago. Then they're given an internal grade before being sorted for the national list by industry and region. Employers are compared to peer organizations in their field to determine which offer the most progressive and forward-thinking programs. For individual provinces such as Manitoba, the winners are listed alphabetically. One thing the Top Employers can't be accused of is failing to do its research. Each year, it writes nearly one million words in publishing its reasons for selection, explaining why each of the winners was chosen. While family-related benefits are relatively new, investing in your people isn't. In fact, it's pretty much a must. "If you don't, you might be the next industry that's overtaken by rapid technological change," he said. "Talented employees improve the chances that an organization can respond to rapid technology change. Employers in fields as divergent as retail and banking are looking at the 'Uberization' of other industries and saying 'we need the top people working for us' to make sure we're the ones driving change, not the ones being left behind." Different things matter to different people at different stages in their careers. When you're young, tuition subsidies and mentorship programs are at the top of your list. For example, a lot of employers give bonuses for getting a professional accreditation. During the early family years, it's the maternity leave top-up, vacation and time off that keep your employees happy. Later in your career, options for phased-in retirement are some of your top priorities. "No employer has all of this. We try to single out the ones that lead their industry," Meehan said. Many years ago, the focus of employee benefits were financial. Today, Meehan said, a big part of the overall picture is social. After all, many people spend more time with their co-workers than they do with their families. "If you create a workplace where people like to come to work and they form friendships, it's tough to leave an employer like that. If you combine that with challenging work and the feeling you're on the cutting edge, that's usually enough for most people," he said. Not surprisingly, companies that make the grade for the Manitoba's Top Employers list tend to shout it from the mountaintops because it helps with both recruitment and retention. "It's hard to get on the list. You've got to knock off somebody pretty good," Meehan said. "A lot of these companies build spreadsheets and go through the Manitoba list and figure out what the best companies are doing and then try to emulate it. These folks push the bar higher." By Geoff Kirbyson TOP EMPLOYERS RAISE THE BAR DURING THE EARLY FAMILY YEARS, IT'S THE MATERNITY LEAVE TOP-UP, VACATION AND TIME OFF THAT KEEP YOUR EMPLOYEES HAPPY.

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