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“It’s all about communication in here,” says receptionist Sue Cartwright. “We’re taken care of here, and that is a really nice thing."

Number of employees: 47
Head office: Vancouver
Quote: “The vision and mentality of the owner of the company is highly unusual in the cutthroat world of business; he remains true to his goals, and the company doesn’t lose itself while remaining profitable”

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If my company were a celebrity, it would be: MADONNA
“She has adapted to changing times and is still an icon to this day”

This could have been a rough year for employees at Omni Companies. While other workers in the beleaguered finance and insurance industry were running for cover from the economic storm, Omni employees enjoyed a calm office atmosphere where positivity and transparency reign supreme. “It’s all about communication in here,” says receptionist Sue Cartwright, manning the front desk of Omni’s downtown Vancouver headquarters, where a tiara – a token of appreciation for the office queen – sits near a potted plant and soft tunes drift from a small radio. “We’re taken care of here, and that is a really nice thing because it’s been a long time with the economy the way it’s been.”

With dealings in after-market warranties, group credit and life insurance, Omni wasn’t entirely immune to the effects of the downturn, but a shift in focus to its growing consumer electronics division offset losses in its automotive sector. Although there has been one layoff due to increased automation this year, the company has expanded its ranks slightly. But the nearly 10-year-old company, which also has small offices in Ontario and Montreal, offers its employees much more than job security. There is ample opportunity for internal growth, generous benefits, health and wellness allowances, and a newly minted profit-sharing program. Each employee has the option to build a customized education plan, with $1,000, sometimes more, available in tuition bursaries each year, with flexibility around training days.

An open-door policy ensures constant feedback between management and the rest of the gang, led by CEO and founder Adam Hill. “I can go into the CEO’s office at any time and have a chat and pretty much have that relationship with all of the executive team,” says payroll manager Lance Schmidt, adding his bosses are always open to suggestions. “It was amazing to me when I started how hands-off my manager was. I would say, ‘I think we need to change this,’ and she would say, ‘Just show me why you think it’s going to be better.’ And so many times it’s like, ‘OK, run with that, I think you’re right.’ ”

Omni also strives to keep employees happy in their personal lives by granting at least three weeks’ vacation, plus a host of other paid days off – including birthdays, which can be swapped to create a personalized long weekend – and two days a year for volunteer work. The health and wellness plan provides $300 toward anything that encourages active living, such as a spiffy pair of runners, yoga passes or lift tickets. And social outings such as picnics, kayaking and nights out at a comedy club are commonplace.

It all adds up to a formula that has not only won Omni recognition as one of the best companies to work for but has won the devotion of employees such as Cartwright. “I’m a lifer. They’re not getting rid of me,” she gushes. “They’re not.”