Featured Image: Street Dance by Pascal Campion
What do you want to be when you grow up?
That was the million dollar question back when I was a dreamy eyed rascal. The answer usually derived from whatever job seemed cool at the time or from whatever semi-interests I had. The best answers were the ones I got creative with because I combined real jobs with not so real ones. This one time I told my grade school teacher that I wanted to be a swashbuckling astronaut. Another time I wanted to be a fire breathing submarine driver. I had quite the imagination. Alas, as I grew older, and somewhat wiser, my neurological pendulum swung and my answers started to make actual sense. Professions like comic book artist and graphic designer entered the fray as I wavered back and forth in my very own, personal and ongoing, high school musical. Not really knowing how to break into the sequential arts, which was once believed to be my true calling, I opted to choose the latter. Graphic design. And so the story continued, yada (x3), press fast forward and here we are today. Fifteen years later I wake up and find myself living in this brave new world filled with brave new employers.
Canada is getting very creative with Toronto’s very own tech bubble being at the forefront trying to attract the best and brightest talent. The tech industry is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to employee benefits and, if you ask me, the rest of the business world needs to fall in line. Many old school employers still have limited and outdated company benefit plans. Now please don’t get me wrong. Health insurance, maternity leave and vacation days are still very important, but it’s a different time. Nowadays these key benefits just barely mark the starting point of a much more interesting list. If companies want to attract top talent and truly keep employees happy, whether they’re in the tech industry or not, they’ll need to step their game up. Employers, if you don’t know how then let this article be your reference. I’ve taken it upon myself to put together a list of the top employee perks and benefits from Toronto’s most notable tech companies. Here they are in alphabetical order.
Big Viking Games
Big Viking Games is not shy when it comes to their perks and company benefits. All you have to do is check out their Twitter and/or Facebook page and you’ll see a plethora of tweets and/or posts about their amazing company culture. #BVGLife. After sixty seconds of viewing their social media content it’s easy to see why they’ve been selected as one of Canada’s top employers for young people in 2015. An award that they’ve won twice. Their blog is also geared towards attracting top talent with more posts about what it’s like to be a “viking.” But it’s not all fun and games at BVG. There’s hard work to be done as this notable company develops free-to-play social and mobile games. Working here gets you the following.
- Hot catered breakfast and lunches daily
- Endless snacks
- On site massage therapy
- Paid time off and money towards conferences, including travel
- Paid parental leave
- Paid outings to Canada’s Wonderland, paint ball, bowling etc.
- Stock options
- Health coverage, personal/sick days and competitive salary
This company needs no introduction. And it’s no question why Google jobs are some of the sought after positions in the entire tech industry. Have you seen their office spaces? I mean Hollywood just had to make a movie about it. The Toronto office is nothing to sneeze at either. Needless to say, the big G takes the benefit package that they offer very seriously. As a matter of fact you can tell that many of the other tech companies take their perk and benefit cues from Google because they set the benchmark. Their entire benefit package revolves around improving the happiness and health of their Googlers. And it’s working. You won’t find one negative remark about the life at Google and rightfully so. Here are some of their note worthy benefits and perks. Please note that they vary by location.
- Healthy gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinners
- Organic homegrown produce
- Endless snacks
- Testing new tech before public release
- On site oil change, car wash, massage therapy and dry cleaning
- On site hair stylist, fitness…let’s just say lots of on site stuff
- Shuttle bus (with WiFi) to and from work
- Extended time off for passion projects
- Extended time off new parents, including spending money
- Reimbursement for approved extra schooling
- Free and/or discounted legal aid
- Health care coverage (on site)
- Indoor slide
If you want to launch a web store it’s no question that Shopify is the place you go. They have a brilliant, easy to use platform with all of the support that a person would need to dive right into the ecommerce swimming pool. Those of you who are familiar with Shopify already know about the great Canadian service that they provide. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself why the service is so great? Take a closer look at the company and their culture. Very similar to Google, Shopify’s objective as an employer is to keep their employees happy and healthy. The mighty powers that be realize that this equals and sustains productivity. It’s truly a no brainer. Take care of your people and they will take care of your business. And there’s plenty of candidates that want the opportunity to take care of this business. If you are lucky enough to work at Shopify this is what you would get.
- Latest Apple gear (27″ iMac and Macbook Pro)
- Breakfast, lunch and snacks
- Flexible work hours
- Full health coverage
- Paid parental leave
- 85% paid maternity leave
- All expenses paid towards conferences, including travel
- Child care bonuses up until your child turns 5 years old
- Free house cleaning services every two weeks
- $250 allowance towards staying active and healthy
- Stock options
- Plus much more!
Last, but certainly not least are the creators of the many games I love to play! From the annually produced Assassin’s Creed to Far Cry and Watch Dogs we have Ubisoft Entertainment. This French multinational video game behemoth has been developing games for almost thirty years and is arguably the third largest independent publisher of video games worldwide. Ubisoft has a mixed bag of games to satisfy a number of different tastes and this shows that they truly love what they do. They know what business they’re in and they’re not afraid to take risks. The very first Ubisoft game that I played was Prince of Persia: Sands of Time on the original Xbox, if I’m not mistaken. What an awesome third-person, action-adventure, puzzle-platformer that was! But I digress. The Ubisoft Toronto office opened it’s doors in 2010 and has assembled a diverse team of some of the most talented game creators around. Keeping this talented team engaged, happy and motivated needs to be the number one priority and I think Ubisoft gets the job done. Most game developers automatically do this because they’re in the entertainment business in the first place. If they know how to keep gamers happy then they should know how to keep their own people happy. Their benefits and perks are as follows.
- On site massage
- Yoga classes
- Fitness bootcamp
- Gym discount
- Chili cook off
- Summer Barbecue
- Monthly parties (UbiBash)
- Halloween party and contest
- Office relocation specialists
- Subsidized public transport
- Christmas party for kids
- Video game room…obviously!
Now scroll up and take another look at the sub-headline. What do you want to be when you grow up? Think about the answer carefully. If you weren’t thinking about a career in the tech industry before, you’re definitely thinking about it now. Start ups, tech companies and video game developers are doing things right when it comes to awesome perks, benefits and company culture. In my opinion this is where you need to get in. If you’re tech savvy that is. This sector isn’t for everybody, but it definitely deserves praise because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want this new world order of scintillating, healthy and/or fun package of benefits? I can’t think of anyone. Can you?