Manitoba's Top Employers


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31 The 20th edition of Canada's Top 100 Employers highlights how much has changed in the workplace over two decades. BY BERTON WOODWARD I f you recently came into the workplace as a young recruit at one of Canada's Top 100 Employers, you're probably very familiar with such phrases as "bring your whole self to work," "employee wellness" and "parental leave top-ups." You may even think these ideas have been around forever. But in that case, ask some of your older colleagues when they first heard those words. Almost surely, they will talk about some point in the last 20 years. So much has changed in employment practices in the last two decades that a staffer from the year 2000 might only barely recognize the workplace of today. But she or he would definitely like it better. All of these trends have been faithfully charted in the annual Canada's Top 100 Employers list, which was first published in 2000. This is the 20th edition in the series, a cause for celebration and for looking forward. "The amount of change is truly stunning," says Richard Yerema, who has served as managing editor of the Mediacorp Canada project since that first issue. "If I were to review an employer today from 20 years ago, I would probably be asking, why are there so many holes in their data set? Why is this applicant missing so many policies?" Yerema says that over the years, incrementally, Canadians have seen the workplace transformed as employers have adapted to changes in society to ensure they can attract a continuing flow of top talent. "Look at the evolution in how we work," he says. "When we used to write about working at home, that was a novelty — we called it telecommuting. Now you have the flexibility to work wherever you happen to be sitting. That has changed many professions and how people function and even think about work — the interconnectedness of our jobs and how they integrate with our lives." Or take vacation time. "When we started, a lot of employers would have two weeks minimum to start," he says. "That's now unheard of among the annual winners." Today's table stakes are easily three weeks to start, with some employers offering four weeks — or even no limit. Perhaps most dramatic has been the evolution in family-friendly policies. "In the early editions, we would write about a six-month maternity leave for a new mom, and top-up was an almost unknown concept," says Yerema. "Now we see generous maternity and parental leave policies that extend to new dads and adoptive parents. Some of the top- ups provide 90 per cent of salary for 52 weeks." Yerema says the progressive family policies have contributed to the continuing rise in the number of women in the workplace. "Twenty years ago, it was almost a penalty if you were going to decide to raise a family and have a career," he notes. At the same time, Top Employers have supported a wide range of measures to boost the proportion of women in senior positions, from specialized leadership training to employee resource groups. In fact, the spread of ERGs — internal networking groups based on a common identity or interest — has helped advance the enlightened diversity and inclusion policies that now are embedded in every Top Employer. The visibility and strong support of LGBTQ2+ people has blossomed in recent years, particularly as organizations embraced the inclusive idea of "bring your whole self to work." Workplaces themselves are changing as well, with open, collaborative spaces, often a lot of light, and all those wellness programs, from in-house yoga to personal counselling. Today, many employers say they use Canada's Top 100 Employers to benchmark what they need to offer to compete for the best people. "Through this project you can actually see what the best vacation policies are, what the best parental leave policies are, and how they're changing," says Yerema. "We have witnessed employers discovering where they could improve, making changes, and becoming part of the list themselves." And, of course, the list — and its coveted logo — has been a critical tool for Canadian job-seekers for two decades. "Whether you're starting out or looking for a change," says Yerema, "this has always been the place to get a detailed look inside the best employers across Canada, see where you're likely to fit in and perhaps find a spot to spend your career." A STUNNING TRANSFORMATION So much has changed in employment practices in the last two decades that a staffer from the year 2000 might only barely recognize the workplace of today. But she or he would definitely like it better.

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