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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Best places to work in Canada

What do an Internet bookselling site in Victoria, B.C., an auto maker in Cambridge, Ont., and a daily newspaper in Halifax, N.S. all have in common?

Each of them offers extensive on-the-job perks that make a tremendous difference in their employees' working lives. That's earned them a place on this year's list of Canada's Top 100 Employers, which was announced Monday.

"After five editions of our book, it is gratifying to see how our annual competition has made its way into the working lives of millions of Canadians," says Tony Meehan, president of Mediacorp Canada Inc., publisher of Canada's Top 100 Employers. "Each year, we look forward to handing out laurels to employers who distinguish themselves by creating wonderful places to work."

Competition to earn a spot on the coveted list of Canada's Top 100 Employers was intense again this year, with more than 1,000 employers starting the application process.

In considering each employer's application, Mediacorp reviewed seven key areas: (1) Physical Workplace; (2) Work Atmosphere and Social; (3) Health, Financial and Family Benefits; (4) Vacation and Time Off; (5) Employee Communications; (6) Performance Management; and (7) Training and Skills Development.

In the book, they reveal the employer's internal grades for each of these areas -- and the reasons why each employer was selected.

The task of narrowing the list to the Top 100 fell to author Richard Yerema and his team of researchers. A key trend Yerema noticed this year is that there are many things good employers are doing to improve employees' work lives -- that don't cost a lot of money.

"From better vacation allowance to new family-friendly policies (like "earned days off" programs and alternative work arrangements), we're seeing a whole new range of employee-focused programs that cost employers almost nothing," Yerema says.

"This is an encouraging sign -- now every employer should be motivated to make the modest changes that make huge differences in their employees' lives."

Another encouraging sign this year comes from the employers who have managed to stay on the list.

"Far from being complacent, these employers are actively improving the areas where we previously noted some weaknesses," Meehan says. "These employers continue to improve their working conditions and benefits, raising the bar for others in their industry."

What's also interesting is that the evidence is increasingly clear that employers of choice outperform their industry peers in a wide variety of sectors.

Mediacorp's academic partner on the competition, the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, has completed some interesting research confirming the link between being an employer of choice and being a leader in financial performance. It seems that being a good employer isn't just good for employees -- it's also great for business.

The new 2005 edition of Canada's Top 100 Employers will be available at bookstores across Canada on Oct. 22.

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