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Best Workplaces in Professional Services: Culture as a Key Differentiator in the War for Talent

 Best Workplaces in Professional Services: Culture as a Key Differentiator in the War for Talent
Organizations in this sector are constantly competing for talent and use their corporate culture as a key differentiator. Three quarters of the organizations named on list say they’ve recently undergone a cultural transformation. So how do they keep their edge?

Best Workplaces Company Culture

Great Place to Work® is pleased to announce the 2018 list of Canada’s Best Workplaces in Professional Services. To be eligible for this list, organizations must be Great Place to Work- Certified™ in the past year, and work primarily in the Professional Services industry. We determined the BEST based on employee responses to our Trust Index Survey.

The Professional Services industry includes organizations and professions in the tertiary sector of the economy that offer customized, knowledge-based services to clients. This includes a wide range of educated professionals such as lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, advertising professionals, to name a few.

Organizations in this sector are constantly competing for talent and use their corporate culture as a key differentiator. Three quarters of the organizations named on list say they’ve recently undergone a cultural transformation, and have intentionally designed their workplace programs and policies to attract and retain the best employees.

So how do they keep their edge?


Challenges for Newbies

Certainly one of the best ways to attract great employees is to hire the best right out of school. Most professional services firms have a strong presence on campus and begin the courting period months before graduation. But many millennials report that the honeymoon ends as soon as the mundane tasks of their new, entry level position begin. The Best Workplaces in Professional Services ensure their youngest workers have a healthy blend of routine entry level work, combined with opportunities for growth and stretch assignments to help them stay engaged long enough to see where their career can lead.

  • Binnie has established a Young Professional Committee for employees in their first 10 years of their career. The Committee meets regularly to discuss industry events, professional development opportunities, community involvement and to organize social event. The Binnie leadership team also makes regular presentations to this group so they can learn more about the industry and the business operations
  • At Isaac Operations, senior consultants are paired with junior ones to meet monthly to discuss professional growth. Meeting costs for dinner and drinks are covered by Isaac. An employee starts as a mentee and is assigned a senior mentor and peer mentor. As they grow in the role, they become mentors to others.
  • Each year, The Adecco Group gives worthy young candidates a chance to find out what it’s like to be CEO! One successful applicant is awarded a one month paid internship to shadow each country’s president. Upon completion of the one month internship, the interns have the chance to apply to the 'Global CEO for One Month' program. Last year they had over 2,300 applicants, from which the top 30 were invited to submit a video and essay and the top 3 were interviewed. This program has been so popular that The Adecco Group Canada has placed over 300 interns at client sites under similar programs this year alone!


Lifelong Learning

While education and training are a prerequisite for securing a job in professional services, keeping skills up to date once you get there is equally important. Every single organization named to this year’s list of Best Workplaces in Professional Services has made a firm commitment to the ongoing professional development of their people. These organizations offer employees an average of 50 hours training per year, and 83% of them also subsidize tuition for advanced education, ranging from $1000 a year to 100% of tuition with no maximum. Need to take time off work to pursue studies? No problem; 57% of these organizations offer unpaid career leave and 23% offer paid sabbaticals!

  • The Capital Markets Company (CAPCO) has a generous tuition support program, offering $10,000 a year for tuition reimbursement for approved courses and $5,000 for continuing education, conferences and certifications.
  • ARI hires people with a passion for self-improvement. Employees partner with their managers to develop their own Individual Development Plan (IDP), a road map for their professional future. To support employees’ professional development, ARI University offers 537 classes, workshops, and special programing for the entire workforce. Classes include everything from enhanced skills to hands-on training to leadership development.
  • Edelman Canada encourages employees to be constantly curious and inspires them to DREAM BIG. Through the Edelman Escapes program, employees can submit an essay to either Live a Dream (for achieving a personal or professional goal, exploring a new interest or going on a meaningful adventure) or Give a Dream (for philanthropy, charitable giving or family giving). One employee is chosen for each category and is granted a one-week sabbatical and $1,500 to dream big.


Trust and Flexibility

The Professional Services industry is focussed on deliverables, so it is well-suited to a results-only work environment where what you accomplish is more important than where or when. At the Best Workplaces in Professional Services, 97% of the list winners offer flexible schedules, and 93% offer telecommuting.

  • Ryan’s radical new workplace flexibility program offers employees the flexibility to work where and when they want as long as they achieve financial results and strong client service scores. Employees are expected to observe the “three C’s” to accomplish this effectively— communication, collaboration, and consideration. Rather than acting completely in a vacuum, they are expected to work with their peers, managers, and stakeholders to ensure there is clarity about projects, timelines, availability, etc. Teams design and create their own schedules for making myRyan work.
  • Recognizing the demands of client service, Sklar Wilton offers unlimited vacation to employees in client service roles. They have complete flex-time and are trusted to manage their time effectively to ensure balance across all their work and personal/family demands.
  • Eagle Professional Services has recently introduced WORKshift which allows employees to work at the time and location where they are most productive. For most participants in the program, this means working from home one or two days per week.


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About our lists

Great Place to Work® publishes a series of Best Workplaces™ lists based on feedback from more than 300,000 employees at Great Place to Work Certified™ organizations across all industries in Canada. Employees complete an anonymous Trust Index© survey, answering questions about how frequently they experience behaviors that create a great workplace, including, the transparency of communication, degree of collaboration, quality of benefits programs, opportunity for professional development, and support for work-life balance. If 7/10 employees respond positively to the survey, the organization becomes Great Place to Work-Certified™ for one year. Results from the survey are highly reliable, having a 95% confidence level with +/- 5% margin of error.


About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® (www.greatplacetowork.ca) is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, GPTW recognizes the world's Best Workplaces in a series of national lists including those published by Fortune magazine (USA) and The Globe & Mail (Canada). Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures.

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