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Alberta’s Best Workplaces 2009 Finalists

Nov 27, 2013

The three organizations – large, medium and small – that offered the most complete package for employees

Alberta’s Best Workplaces Slideshow

A tour of the offices of Deloitte & Touche, high above the snowy streets of downtown Edmonton, reveals pretty much what you’d expect of a professional services firm. Spread over two floors of Manulife Place, 225 people (there are another 600 in Calgary) occupy a labyrinth of cubicles, auditing, consulting, assessing enterprise risk and providing financial advisory and tax services. Eyes are fixed on monitors; snacks sit half-eaten; hellos are pleasant but quick. This could be any company, anywhere.

But the truth is something else entirely. In fact, at Deloitte, it comes bound in an LP-sized brochure, “Truth” boldly embossed on its plain, white cover. It’s a recruitment tool, explains HR talent adviser Corinne Warwaruk. During campus visits, this is the student’s first impression of the culture of their potential employer. From the brochure’s introduction: “… frankly, we don’t put up with jerks.”

Might sound harsh, but you can’t build a sense of community and the collaborative environment that defines Deloitte any other way. “We don’t manufacture widgets,” says Warwaruk. “To some degree, we sell brain power. We’re only as strong as the people we employ, and so for us to employ the right types of people and attract and retain them, these are the types of things we have to do.”

“I won’t lie to you,” she says. “In the Alberta market today, money is important.” But today’s best employees are interested in not only competitive pay increases (12.1% on average here in 2008) but in all the other “types of things” Deloitte has made standard to its benefits and culture. Besides tailored, comprehensive benefits packages, wellness programs exist to cover everything from yoga classes to maid services. For those seeking wellness through personal pursuits, sabbaticals are on offer. Deloitte offers compassionate care leave, family support services and, for employees new to Canada, a relocation allowance, assistance with documents and even neighbourhood orientation sessions. Alexander Hamilton, clients and markets senior manager, considers the latter a Deloitte hallmark. “Our culture is really defined by its inclusivity,” she says. The same could be said for training and development, on which Deloitte spent $3.7 million in 2007 in Alberta alone. “Learning is one of our most significant expenditures,” says Warwaruk. “It’s an investment.”

For Jason Ding, that’s meant earning his Chartered Business Evaluator accreditation – costs covered – while managing corporate finance and valuations and financial advisory for life sciences companies. “I’ve seen a lot of flexibility and a lot of opportunity for me to do what it is I want to do,” says Ding, “[like] being involved in corporate finance, in technology, and having time outside to do volunteer work.” Like spending an afternoon every few weeks at the University of Alberta, fuelling his passion for community involvement by serving as a university senator, and doing so knowing he has the full support of everyone back at Deloitte, no jerks allowed.
– Scott Messenger

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