Best workplaces at a glance

Our ranking of Canada's Top 50 places to work in 2007, including profiles and tips for building the ideal workplace.

1. Back In Motion Rehab
Surrey, B.C. | Health care | 57 employees
BiM prefers to promote existing staff, even if that means supporting additional training—all employees are entitled to up to $700 per year and paid days off for education. It has also shared 30% to 50% of distributed profits.

2. 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
Vancouver, with offices worldwide | Junk-removal services | 300 employees
A renovated open-concept workspace gets different departments mingling. Employees are encouraged to share their “101 Personal Life Goals” and support each other's dreams—when the CEO heard about one employee's goal to read Anna Karenina in Russian, he had a rare copy sent to her from Moscow.

3. Urban Systems
Kamloops, B.C. | engineering, planning and landscape architecture | 270 employees
The so-called University of Urban Systems is open to all staff and offers courses from effective business writing to leadership training. All managing partners and many staff members have also attended a several-day-long course put on by the Queen's University School of Leadership.

4. Environics Communications
Toronto | Marketing and communications | 80 employees
The ESRA awards (arse spelled backward) get staff laughing at their embarrassing moments. The “Five for Five” program gets them out of the country—in their fifth year, employees are given $5,000 and an extra week of permanent vacation to go anywhere in the world.

5. Karo Design
Calgary, Vancouver | Communications, web, interior and product design | 70 employees
Karo owns a Smart car and two mountain bikes employees can borrow for biz or pleasure. Staff members are given as much time off as they need for volunteer work, and interest-free loans have been given to those in need.

6. Vancity Credit Union
Vancouver | Financial services | 2,300 employees
Managers have a budget to thank staff with anything from gift certificates to dinners. Environmental commitment gives employees a sense of making a difference: Vancity products include a Clean Air Auto loan to reward low-emission cars; it plans to go carbon neutral by 2010.

7. Edward Jones Canada
mississauga, with offices Canada-wide | Investment advice | 1,765 employees
Management eschews job descriptions and lets employees set their roles. Those who succeed in diversifying clients' assets get up to two “Diversification Trips” each year—2006 destinations included the Amalfi Coast and Grand Cayman.

8. Halsall Associates
Toronto, with six offices across Canada | Consulting engineering and project- management firm | 215 employees
The firm's lean structure emphasizes teamwork and knowledge-sharing over hierarchy and titles. “You'll even see seniors reporting to juniors on particular projects,” says career development manager Mike Peddle.

9. iTRANS Consulting
Richmond hill, Ont., with four other offices in Canada| Transportation planning and traffic engineering | 90 employees
Staff hit social events from skiing to an annual anniversary soiree they fly in to from around Canada. Mentors and “lunch and learn” sessions tackle personal and professional development.

10. Ernst & Young LLP
Toronto and 13 locations | Professional services (financial) | 3,775 employees
Employees can exercise flexibility and work from home. A concierge service for help with errands and a backup child- and elder-care program contribute to work/life balance. In summer, staff get an extra day off each long weekend.

11. WCG International hr solutions
Victoria | Professional services (human resources) | 152 employees
Employees leaving the company often say they feel like they're leaving a family, says HR director Barbara Patterson. Hours are flexible, and monthly massages are offered on company time. “Mya's Wish Foundation” was created to help a former employee whose two-year-old daughter required medical care.

12. AdFarm
Calgary, with three satellites | Agricultural marketing and communications | 81 employees
AdFarm shares profits through a bonus program. Employees can purchase shares in two company-owned farms and participate in their management. “It's a great way for staff who don't have the agriculture background to get their feet wet,” says executive assistant Donna Ford.

13. SaskCentral
Regina | Professional services (credit unions) | 52 employees
Employees are encouraged to complete their MBA—and are provided with full tuition. In addition to a focus on hiring First Nations employees, celebrations see native elders and powwow dancers mingle with staff, and all employees take a two-day aboriginal history workshop.

14. Randstad Canada
Canada-wide | Professional services (human resources) | 233 employees
Honesty and integrity are encouraged through training and initiatives like the 1-800-INTEGRITY phone line, where employees can report misconduct anonymously without fear of recrimination. Profit sharing and a share-purchase plan give staff a stake in company success.

15. Keller Williams
Ottawa Realty Ottawa | Real estate | 195 employees
Keller Williams University is known for offering “the best real-estate training in the business,” says CEO Sunny Daljit. Employees participate in profit sharing on top of commissions—very rare in the industry—and six realtors representing staff vote on the direction ownership is taking the company.

16. Intuit Canada
Edmonton | IT/Software | 385 employees
The Intuit Women's Network helps females across the company connect and work on leadership and work/life balance. A program giving staff up to four days a year for volunteer work has a 90% participation rate, and the company matches employee charitable donations, dollar for dollar, up to $1,200.

17. Windsor Family
Credit Union Windsor, Ont. | Financial | 120 employees
Staff get a bonus of 2% of their previous year's salary to spend on their well-being, from vacations to fitness equipment. All full- and part-timers receive full benefits. Staff who submit improvement ideas can win an extra week of vacation and a $5,000 trip.

18. Trico Homes
Calgary | residential Construction and project development | 96 employees
Community work builds bonds; one undertaking has seen employees repair the roof at Calgary's Leighton Arts Centre. An outside consultant is brought in regularly to make sure staff suggestions are addressed.

19. Microsoft Canada
Mississauga, Ont. | Software | 900 employees
Microsoft Canada gives employees 40 hours of paid volunteer leave yearly, and its devotion to child safety—such as developing software that helps police catch child pornographers—is a source of pride. Onsite perks include a massage therapist, acupuncturist, personal trainer and nutritionist.

20. The Marketing Store
Toronto (offices worldwide) | Marketing and communications | 160 employees
An annual awards event recognizes staff who embody talent and teamwork in five categories, from delivery of top-notch work to living company values. Winners receive a plaque and a $2,500 cheque.

21. Sandvine
Waterloo, Ont. | Information technology | 175 employees
New hires are greeted with a welcome basket, a mentor, a box of Timbits to share with their new co-workers, and stock options. Seasoned employees can earn performance-based bonuses and option grants.

22. Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa
Courtenay (Vancouver Island), B.C. | Hospitality | 180 employees
Regular “Night Owl Meetings” give overnight staff a sit-down, pre-shift meal with managers to keep them informed. All employees have the power to immediately resolve guest disputes by comping up to $1,000. Those in financial need get help through a special fund.

23. Fuller Landau LLP
Toronto | Financial services (accounting) | 104 employees
“Fridays with Michael” let staff members lunch monthly with the firm's managing partner, Michael Epstein, to ask questions and receive updates. A popular educational presentation and lunch celebrates one of the ethnic or geographic backgrounds of a different team member each month.

24. Ceridian Canada
Winnipeg (10 Satellites) | Professional services (human resources) | 1,439 employees
Every year, a group of top employees receive a trip to an exotic locale, such as Peru or South Africa. Staff can qualify for tuition assistance of up to $2,000 yearly and can be awarded bonuses of up to $1,500 or even more for exceptional performances. Company philanthropic efforts include funds set aside for employees to distribute to local charities of their choosing.

25. Globex Foreign
Exchange edmonton, with offices Canada-wide | Financial services | 115 employees
Management seeks feedback from staff to better operations; even if suggestions aren't used, employees receive a cash bonus or extra time off for their input. A percentage of each of the company's foreign-exchange transactions goes to a charitable foundation, with employee and client donations matched.

26. Softchoice
Toronto | Information technology | 343 employees
President and CEO David MacDonald keeps staff up to speed with a monthly conference call modelled after Larry King Live. Managers and future company leaders get skills training. A Friday beer cart and a “bring your dog to work” policy—for pooches who've passed a committee review—show employees they're trusted by management.

27. Kingston Ross Pasnak LLP
Edmonton | Financial services (accounting) | 80 employees
The company assists employees for whom English is a second language with a free eight-week international business course, half of which is conducted during working hours. Monthly sessions see co-workers bond over such activities as trivia contests and fingerpainting.

28. Online Business Systems
Winnipeg (three other offices ) | Information technology services | 220 employees
Employees who refer a new consultant to the company get an hourly wage bonus for every hour the new hire bills as long as they're both employed; those who have referred business-team hires get a $1,000 bonus.

29. Hill & Knowlton Canada
Canada-wide | Strategic communications | 185 employees
A unique structure helps employees connect with—and learn from—co-workers across the country. An annual award gives $10,000 to the best teams. “Beer Cart Fridays” and a life-sized bust of Elvis (which sits on the desks of culprits who abuse e-mail) lighten things up.

30. IHS Canada
Calgary | Professional services (oil and gas industry) | 280 employees
On top of the three weeks' paid vacation employees start with, they can request up to six weeks' unpaid leave a year—many use it to volunteer in underprivileged countries. Two employee-run committees distribute IHS's yearly charitable donations; it also shares profits.

31. Tourism British Columbia
Victoria, with an office in Vancouver | Tourism | 149 employees
A rotating employee committee takes organizational values beyond “words on a page”—initiatives like monthly CEO “mouth-abouts” to update staff sprung from these committee discussions. Staff support each other outside work. One new hire from out of town arrived with few possessions; co-workers lent items to help her transition.

32. Heenan Blaikie LLP
Montreal (10 offices across Canada) | corporate/LABOUR LITIGATION | 900 employees
Offices nationwide stay connected and celebrate legal victories through an extensive intranet system. The law firm helped pioneer the City of Toronto's Youth Employment Partnership Initiative, hiring interns for 12-week positions and helping them find full-time jobs.

33. Coastal Pacific Xpress
Surrey, B.C., with an office in Calgary | Transport | 145 employees
If management likes a potential hire but no position exists, they'll give them three months at the company to try to create a role that could lead to a full-time job. All employees get training and a personal coach.

34. Banff Lodging Company
Banff, Alta. | Hospitality | 400 employees
After employees have been with the company full time for three years, it will match their down payment on a home in Banff with an interest-free loan of up to $20,000; it doesn't have to be repaid for 10 years.

35. Canadian Health
Services research foundation Ottawa | research foundation | 50 employees
Employees can take English or French lessons to be certified bilingual; those who have reached this level receive a yearly bonus. Staff get benefits with premiums paid by the employer, and flexible working arrangements.

36. Pinchin Environmental
Mississauga (offices in ontario and manitoba) | Health, safety and environmental consulting | 208 employees
Staff start at three weeks' vacation, and time-and-a-half pay kicks in for those who work more than 37.5 hours weekly. Founder and president Don Pinchin's open-door policy means time for employees no matter what their title. “The respect for him is unbelievable,” says HR manager Patricia Cavallari.

37. Deloitte & Touche LLP
Canada-wide | audit, tax, consulting and financial advisory | 6,814 employees
In 2006, each full-time employee got an average of 142 hours of in-house training. Tuition is covered for those who continue their education independently, whether or not the study is related to their position. New hires get a mentor, and those still on their way to becoming a chartered accountant get an exam coach.

38. The Personnel Department
Vancouver, with offices in edmonton and calgary | Professional services (human resources) | 80 employees
All new hires, no matter where they live, are flown to Vancouver, where they'll stay in a four-diamond hotel for five days of orientation. Other perks include flexible working arrangements and a yearly team-building trip to destinations such as Hawaii and Vegas for those who perform well.

39. TD Bank Financial Group
Toronto | Financial services | 54,995 employees
A diversity leadership council chaired by senior staff promotes an inclusive environment for women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities and employees who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. Employees can also opt for payroll charity deductions and are eligible for paid time off to volunteer.

40. Lannick group of companies
Toronto | Professional services (human resources) | 80 employees
Potential hires can partake in a one-day job shadow and meet team members from throughout the company; once they're hired, they'll receive orientation and training. A commission and bonus program rewards those who've made a contribution.

41. Concert Properties
Vancouver | Real estate development and management | 125 employees
Not only does CEO David Podmore encourage an open-door policy, he takes two groups of employees chosen from a random draw to Pennask Lake, near Kelowna, B.C., for three days of fishing yearly. “It's true Canadian wilderness. There are no words to describe it,” says employee Lizette Parsons Bell, who went last year.

42. Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia
Vancouver | Settlement and integration services | 200 employees
Staff are proud of their community involvement—volunteers (often new Canadians) play a major role in the organization, and are rewarded with appreciation events and help finding jobs. One current employee was a refugee trying to get back into the workforce when her volunteer position led to a full-time gig at the organization two years ago.

43. High Road Communications
Toronto, with offices in vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal | Public relations | 76 employees
A staff committee provided design input during recent office renovations, and employees had the chance to design their own cubicle space. Regular performance reviews give staff members insight from their managers and peers, and everyone gets an extra day off each quarter to help with work/life balance.

44. Info-Tech Research Group
London, Ont. | Information technology research | 185 employees
Staff support each other—employees went out of their way to provide lifts to a co-worker who'd broken bones in a motorcycle accident, and everyone pitched in to help another who lost everything in a house fire. They also support sick children in the community.

45. S.C. Johnson and Son
Brantford, Ont. | Manufacturing, personal and household goods | 463 employees
Management prefers promoting employees to looking outside, and a development program helps them advance their careers. Staff can rent one of eight cottages at the company resort in Muskoka each summer.

46. Thomson Carswell
Toronto | Information solutions provider | 683 employees
Staff choose from a slew of training opportunities—in-house instruction, tuition reimbursement for college and university courses, access to more than 1,000 online courses, on-the-job development experiences, French and English language courses and more. During the office's recent redecoration, employees could choose their own office paint colour.

47. Sapient canada
Toronto | Information technology consulting | 170 employees
Late for a meeting or forget the company's no-cellphone rule? Guilty Sapient employees must stand up and break into full song. Staff also share laughs during regular professional development days, when they can chat over free lunch and ice-cream sundaes in between community building activities and a town hall with management.

48. Monster Canada
Montreal, with Toronto, Calgary and vancouver offices | Online recruiting | 100 employees
This company will go the distance for staff—management tried everything to bring home an employee stranded in Lebanon during last summer's war, attempting to send a corporate jet. “Monster Idol” sees outstanding workers get judged by a panel for a chance at winning a trip.

49. NewHeights Software
Ottawa with an office in Victoria | Communications software | 53 employees
A culture of openness means employees can grill superiors at regular Q&A sessions. “Sometimes I'll wince, but I've never seen management get upset about anything asked,” says PR director Rob McLean. CEO Owen Matthews' passion makes for companywide pride. “We're still a startup, but we believe what we're doing will make a difference,” McLean says.

50. Cobalt Engineering
Vancouver | Mechanical and electrical engineering consulting firm | 90 employees
The firm rewards staff with a profit-sharing plan based on individual, team and company performance. Fifteen per cent of company profits are distributed to employees based on position, length of service and team profitability.