Best Workplaces 2012: Best Workplace 101 to 750 Employees
At Calgary-based Rogers Insurance, there’s a generous benefits plan and a solid training program. There’s an active social club committee and a legendary Christmas party. There’s a staff recognition program where you can win gift cards of $10 to $500 and a bonus plan where you get $2,500 if an employee you referred is hired. Employees can buy shares after two years of employment, the company brought Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi in for a Q&A lunch session with staff, and it spent $60,000 on massages for staff and their families in 2011.
photograph Colin Way
All very nice. All things that make the company a great employer.
Then there are the things that make Rogers stand out – that separate it from the many other first-rate employers in this province (including, of course, the three runners-up in this category).
First, there’s the bring-your-dog-to-work program. Yes, at Rogers you’re welcome to bring Lassie to work any time, all year long. “We believe it increases work production,” says Lee Rogers, company president and CEO. “It can be difficult to be at work worrying about when and how you can get home to let your dog out.”
Staff brought the idea to the company’s human resources department two years ago. HR thought it was solid and presented it to management. Now, there will be anywhere from 10 to 15 dogs in the 150-person Calgary office on any given day. “There is a sense of calm and peace about dogs that is different from the stress of the everyday business world,” says Rogers.
But the cherry on top, the perk of perks, the policy without equal, is Rogers’s “Dream Program.” Under it, all employees register their dreams, and each year, four employees are chosen (one anonymously by management, one anonymously by staff vote and two by random draw) to receive $10,000 toward their dream. “We’re very excited and proud of our Dream Program,” says Rogers. “We have such a diverse group of people: from a single mother who has been able to take her kids to Disneyland to a lady who buried her father about a year ago and couldn’t afford a tombstone and used it for a tombstone.” Other winners have included a man who registered his wife in a private facility for treatment of an illness she had suffered for 13 years and a mother who bought an insulin pump for her diabetic son.
On top of the four big prizes, Rogers deposits $100 a year into each employee’s “Dream Account” and gives $1,000 to one randomly selected employee. Employees can withdraw the money at any time to use toward their dreams. The program costs the company a little more than $60,000 per year, but the boss has no regrets. “It’s one of the single best things we’ve ever done as a company,” Rogers says.
Now, wouldn’t you love to wake up to that?
Rogers Insurance takes the idea of a staff Christmas party to a whole other level. Every year, it takes its employees and their families up to the Kananaskis Lodge for a two-day, two-night stay that’s on the company dime. The company also pays for the coach from Calgary to Kananaskis, and even springs for the airfare to Calgary for its Fort McMurray employees.