Best Workplaces in Canada: Should You Care?

Great Place to Work Canada is like putting lipstick on a pig.

Great Place to Work Canada recently released their 2018 list of – you guessed it – the best places to work in Canada. As an employer, it’s nice to add a certification to your trophy case. The question is, what are job hunters supposed to make of this one?

The answer is, not very much. My headline and image might be harsh, but they served to get your attention. Before someone gets hurt, I want to clarify that I am not suggesting that companies on this list are pigs. In some cases, this recognition is well warranted. In other cases, it’s much like putting lipstick on a pig. A little makeup might fool some people, but that doesn’t mean the pig is no longer a pig.

To be clear, it is very important to consider company culture and environment when evaluating potential employers. I would argue that the biggest determinant of how much one enjoys their work is how their employer’s mission aligns with their personal beliefs. The people you work with and the environment in which you work come in a close second. You should care about these things, but whether or not a company has a spot on the list should carry no weight in your evaluation of prospective employers.

Great Place to Work Canada does not conduct an unbiased audit of all the places to work in Canada, rather it sells certifications. The good news is there’s more to it than paying for the certification and receiving it. A company must uphold certain standards in order to be recognized as a Great Place to Work. Unfortunately, the bar isn’t high:

"If 7 out of 10 employees gives you positive ratings on your survey, congratulations! You're Certified!

In other words, if only 30% of your employees are unhappy, you’re considered to be ‘great.’ In my books an approval rating of 70% (a solid C+ for those of us that prefer the letter-grading system) is underwhelming. I’d be curious to know what percentage of companies are denied.

If you’re interviewing with a company that isn’t on the list, don’t stress. It doesn’t mean the employer is any less great. Some companies simply aren’t willing to pony up the $955 (for a company with less than 100 employees, $1,995 otherwise) that it costs to get certified.

Great Place to Work is prime example of a capitalism that preys on desperation by putting a price tag on hope. The existence, let alone the success, of this certification is an indication of just how hard it is to attract and retain talent. If you’re a Canadian company considering getting certified, I implore you to invest your money elsewhere. If you’re looking for a new employer, don’t be fooled by the cosmetics. Do your research and seek out the truth.