Manitoba's Top Employers


Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 1 of 23

2 COVID-19 wasn't even a thing when last year's Canada's Top 100 Employers were announced a year ago but the coronavirus has very much put the top employers to the test — and pretty much everyone else — this year. Richard Yerema, the program's managing editor, said employers have been challenged like never before in 2020 starting when employees set up home offices when the lockdown was imposed in the spring. Many of them have been there ever since. The most successful companies during this most trying of years already had wide-open communication with their people so employees understood what was going on every step of the way. "People are looking for leadership. They want to know 'what's happening? Are we OK?' Companies that have been innovative and communicated well with their people have done better. When things return to normal, the organizations that did a good job of calming their people will have a running start," he said. "Some of the things they've done (this year) will pay off in the long run." Many companies that already had robust communication strategies, including regular meetings with their CEO or senior executives to discuss the matters of the day, were able to make the transition to remote workplaces without a hitch, he said. "When you hear rumours, you want to cut those off. When people are at home, online town halls and social gatherings, such as online yoga classes, help keep people in touch," he said. Yerema and his team have long trumpeted innovative organizations that embraced the latest technology and offered more flexible working arrangements but they often applied in one-off situations, such as a new mother or father re-entering the workforce or a parent dealing with a sick child for a day or two. "Having the ability to work from home and having that culture already developed has been a great strength (for many companies). They expanded it or tweaked it to roles that might not have had it before," he said. Canada's Top 100 Employers is in its 21st year nationally and its 15th year in Manitoba. Here's how the competition works: each employer is graded 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. Then they're given an internal grade before being sorted for the national list by industry and region. Employers are compared to other organizations in their fields to determine which ones offer the most progressive and forward-thinking programs. For all the competitions, including Manitoba, the winners aren't ranked but are instead listed alphabetically. While some employers undoubtedly worry their people are goofing off during the middle of the afternoon, the forward-thinking managers are ensuring employees make sure to take some time for themselves during the day or evening. "Personal time isn't necessarily time away from the office when your work is sitting there in your living room. Separating your space out is very important. It's a kind of a learning curve (where you realize) 'I'm not at work anymore,'" he said. Of course, it's understandable for some employees to feel stress with the new working arrangements. The people they sit next to at the office can be like a second family. Listening to daily COVID-19 updates from provincial health officials and politicians can be downright depressing, too. So, having some kind of mental health support as part of a company's health benefits can pay both immediate and long-term dividends. "Having online health services or access to the best doctors built into a health program can be very helpful to people working off-site. That includes flexible time-off policies, paid or unpaid leaves of absence and generous vacation time, too," Yerema said. COMMUNICATION MEANS SUCCESS BY GEOFF KIRBYSON Anybody can run a company during the good times but it takes a special kind of leadership at the helm during a global pandemic.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Manitoba's Top Employers - 2021