There’s onboarding, and then there’s onboarding that leaves an impression. At Rogers Insurance, new hires get a welcome package sent to their homes and get their paperwork ahead of time so they’re not bogged down on the first day. When they show up to the office, they get a handwritten card on their desk, and admin staff provide them with a detailed schedule of their next few days – ­planned out to 15-minute increments. They then spend three days meeting people from different departments and learning the basics. Co-workers even take new employees out for lunch to help them get a feel for the community right away. “We really do try to wow them when they start,” says Lindsay Mather, vice-president of human resources at Rogers. “We spend a lot of time on culture and investing in our employees – for us, it’s not a matter of profitability, it’s the right thing to do.”


“The people make working here the best – knowledgeable, friendly, caring and compassionate people.” – Jana Lee, commercial associate, Rogers

The investment doesn’t stop there, though. Rogers has an ownership plan similar to stock options, but all staff, regardless of position, are allowed to buy shares in the company after two years. “Then we all work towards growing value,” Mather says, emphasizing how this provides incentive to all employees. She says the company, which is almost 40 years old, has doubled in size in the last five years. Perhaps the most striking example of employee investment is Rogers’ Dream Program, where four employees are chosen to receive $10,000 towards their dream. It’s obvious why companies implement things like the Dream Program when the economy is hot and it’s trying to recruit the industry’s top talent. But it takes determination to continue them in a downturn. “We’ve had more budgetary constraints than in growth years, but we’re trying hard to still keep a lot of our culture initiatives and not cut things,” Mather says. For Mather herself, she enjoys the freedom and flexibility “to create initiatives that I think add value and will have the biggest impact,” she says. That, along with smaller perks, like bringing in her dog, Lexus.

The Finalists

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BioWare, Edmonton BioWare’s parent company, Electronic Arts, has studios all over the world, allowing the company to offer internal transfers lasting anywhere from three months to two years.

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County of Grande Prairie The County offers training not just in an employee’s specific field, but in other areas of interest, too.

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ENTREC, Acheson Entrec offers comprehensive benefits, flexible work schedules, fitness reimbursements and, to key employees, restricted shares in the company.

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Strategic Group, Calgary Strategic has made a point of supporting women in the workplace, including a relationship with the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association, which has placed a number of women with Strategic.