Best Companies to Work For in B.C. 2008
What did we find in our seventh survey of the best and brightest in B.C. employment? That a rewarding workplace is less complicated than it seems. And that, right now in Vancouver, gamers are king.
Most of us like our jobs – after all, we’re free to go elsewhere if we don’t. But how many can say we actually work for the best company in the province? Our annual Best Companies to Work for in B.C. survey is open to all comers, and this year more than 100 employers thought they should be in the running. Ninety-two companies met the basic criteria, and from those we narrowed it down to the top 20: 10 companies with fewer than 100 employees and 10 with more than 100 employees.
Little surprise, perhaps, that web consultants, game developers and software publishers dominate our rankings this year, taking top spot among big companies and small, and figuring prominently elsewhere in the rankings. Employee comments suggest that, amid stiff competition for talent, the tech sector has retained many of the employee perks introduced in the boom years earlier in this decade. Flexible hours, a casual workplace and job mobility are common themes among comments from employees in this sector.
Credit unions also figure prominently, as they have consistently in our Best Companies surveys. And a few newcomers round out this year’s list, including a maker of concrete waterproofing products and a local hair products company with an international reach. “Best” can be a relative term, but BCBusiness teamed up with organizational consultants Caliber Leadership Systems Inc. to nail down quantifiable rankings. We sought input from employers and employees alike, asking them to fill in multiple-choice surveys, which were translated into numerical scores. We gave the most weight to employee input: employee responses to a 52-question survey account for 70 per cent of a company’s final score; employer responses account for 20 per cent; and employee participation rates account for 10 per cent.
Sifting through the scores, Caliber analysts found some interesting lessons in differences between industry sectors. Companies in hospitality and consumer services (including travel) collectively racked up the highest score of any sector, while companies in the non-profit, public and charitable sectors scored the lowest. Caliber analysts conclude this is likely because hospitality and consumer businesses tend to focus on customer service and employee empowerment, while public-sector workforces tend to be longer-serving and are often unionized. And comparatively low salaries in the public and non-profit sector make it difficult to attract and reward top performers.
It’s also interesting to note that employee rankings of their employers diminish steadily with length of service: employees who have been with companies for less than one year rank their employers significantly higher than those who have been at the company for between one and two years, and rankings drop less markedly, but steadily, as length of service increases. The majority of respondents fall into the “new employee” category, with nearly 70 per cent of participating employees reporting less than five years’ service with their current employers. This could indicate high turnover, but more likely reflects rapid growth during the province’s economic boom in recent years.
Winner of the Worklife B.C. Award: Next Level Games
Of the 92 companies that met the entry requirements this year, Next Level Games Inc. stands out for offering employees an outstanding balance of work and life.
For the first time ever, we isolated survey questions relating to matters such as reasonable workloads, flexible work arrangements, workplace culture and support of a healthy lifestyle. While competition for the top honour was very close among the companies making it to our two top-10 lists, none outside of these 20 companies came even close to Next Level Games. Runners up in the WorkLife BC Award were Habañero Consulting Group and Strangeloop Networks Inc.