How Shopify, Hootsuite and others topped LinkedIn’s first Canadian Top Companies list

LinkedIn has released the first Canadian edition of its Top Companies list, and while tech and tech-adjacent firms are unsurprisingly dominant, the reasons cited are decidedly old-fashioned.

“The companies at the top are the ones that are listening to their employees,” LinkedIn editorial director Daniel Roth tells “Job seekers want to clearly see that a company is investing in them.”

An example typical of the study, released Wednesday, is Ottawa tech darling Shopify, which came in eighth place on the list.

LinkedIn editor in chief Daniel Roth thinks listening, not expensive perks, is the key to building a company where employees want to work.

“They’ve really committed to having employees post their strengths and weaknesses on an internal wiki, sharing what it is that motivates them and what slows them down,” Roth says of Shopify, which he notes has built an especially good reputation as an inclusive environment. “By encouraging everyone to be really honest about where they are, the company gets people acclimated faster.”

Third-place winner Hootsuite won partly thanks to a “stretch program” that encourages employees to spend one day a week trying a new position – the type of skills development, Roth says, that allows employees to feel they’re building themselves up alongside the company.

“That’s what job seekers want,” he says.

As if to illustrate that famously tech-friendly perks such as a well-stocked cafeteria and in-office arcades don’t make as big a difference as focusing on employee well-being, consulting firm KPMG Canada landed in fifth place thanks to its Global Opportunities program, which has sent Canadian participants to work at overseas offices in the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, China and Switzerland.

“When you think about perks, you think about foosball, or discounts, or other tricks to get people to feel like the time they’re spending at work is more like play,” Roth says. “But the top companies are the ones that offer not perks but actual experiences that enable you to align your personal growth with the company’s, whether that’s giving back, international travel, or skills training and development.”

In all, 19 Canadian companies landed on the list, including Shopify and Hootsuite. Five of the 25 winners were tech companies (the aforementioned Shopify and Hootsuite, plus Amazon, Salesforce, and IBM), while 14 others were from tech-adjacent industries such as finance, telecommunications, and consulting.

The Top Companies list was based on the “billions of actions” taken by LinkedIn’s 540 million-plus members, including more than 14 million Canadians, with researchers focusing on four main pillars, Roth said: interest in a company, employee engagement, job demand, and employee retention.

Though LinkedIn didn’t release why every company landed on its list, Roth did share some reasons for the remaining top five:

  • At first-place winner TD Bank Group, employees feel they have a voice thanks to a yearly feedback survey in which more than 80 per cent of employees said they felt engaged at work in 2016. Another perk that employees rate highly is flexible working hours.
  • At second-place winner RBC, employees are encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle, and offered a wellness program that rewards healthy behaviour with credits employees can use toward activities such as gym memberships, workout classes and weight-loss programs.
  • In fourth place, Amazon was praised for the freedom it gives employees to pursue new ideas: its inventors have won more than 2,300 patents in the past year for everything from Kindle cases to predictive restaurant ordering.

A guidebook for employers

Roth says that LinkedIn conducted the study, now in its third year in the U.S. and its first in Canada, to give hiring managers and job seekers alike a sense of which companies are best at retaining employees, and how – for their own sake as much as their workers’.

“As the way companies operate changes, as competition intensifies, having the right people at your company guiding the ship becomes essential to their well-being, he says. “This shows you which companies are staying ahead.”

Crucially, he notes, the list isn’t based on a survey, but the tangible actions users take – and where they choose to work, and how long they stay, speaks volumes.

“Over the past couple of years we’ve seen a move away from top-down-driven change to bottoms-up-driven change,” Roth says. “The best companies are increasingly finding ways to leverage the voice of their employees to make it the culture of the company.”

Hootsuite is a perfect example, he says: the company has built a reputation as a workplace where employees can take on big challenges that have a significant impact on their professional brand.

“If you leave Hootsuite and go somewhere else, you can always say ‘I worked at Hootsuite’ and people know what it is. They know you contributed to a culture of technical innovation. And that is a very attractive feature that job seekers want.”

You can read the full list of 25 companies where Canadians most want to work, according to LinkedIn, below:

  1. TD Bank Group
  2. RBC
  3. Hootsuite
  4. Amazon
  5. KPMG Canada
  6. Suncor Energy
  7. WSP
  8. Shopify
  9. CIBC
  10. SNC-Lavalin
  11. Lululemon
  12. National Bank of Canada
  13. Rogers Communications
  14. Accenture
  15. BMO Financial Group
  16. EY
  17. Salesforce
  18. Scotiabank
  19. Canadian Tire Corporation
  20. Aecon Group
  21. IBM
  22. Bell
  23. Sun Life
  24. Loblaw Companies
  25. TransCanada

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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