A person kayaks on calm waters under a misty sunrise, with clouds hovering low on the horizon.
Canada's Top Small & Medium
Employers (2024)
Winners from our 11th annual editorial competition
Some of the 54 employees at Toronto-based ExperiencePoint, one of this year's winners, connecting in the staff kitchen.

About the Competition

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Winnipeg-based Payworks experienced notable growth in the past year, expanding its full-time workforce in Canada by approximately 18 per cent.


Now in its 11th year, Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers is an editorial competition that recognizes the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that offer the nation's best workplaces and forward-thinking human resources policies. Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers Canada's SME sector is tremendously important to the nation and is responsible for over two-thirds of the country’s private-sector employment. Our 2024 winners were announced in a special magazine published on April 2, 2024, in The Globe and Mail. Read the press release issued the same day for more background on this year’s competition.

Toronto-based HR consultant ExperiencePoint provides a flexible wellness spending account that can be transferred to savings.

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Winnipeg-based Payworks experienced notable growth in the past year, expanding its full-time workforce in Canada by approximately 18 per cent.

About Image
Toronto-based HR consultant ExperiencePoint provides a flexible wellness spending account that can be transferred to savings.

Selection Process

Employers are evaluated by the editors of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers using the same eight criteria as our national competition: (1) Workplace; (2) Work Atmosphere & Social; (3) Health, Financial & Family Benefits; (4) Vacation & Time Off; (5) Employee Communications; (6) Performance Management; (7) Training & Skills Development; and (8) Community Involvement.

To determine eligibility, the Top 100 editors adopted the SME definition used by Statistics Canada, limiting the competition to private-sector commercial organizations with under 500 employees.

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Toronto-based HR consultant ExperiencePoint provides a flexible wellness spending account that can be transferred to savings.

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Toronto-based mortgage lender MCAN Financial Group lets employees work from an overseas location for up to 30 days in any year.

Reasons for Selection

Each year, the winners are announced in a special announcement magazine distributed in The Globe and Mail. For our detailed Reasons for Selection, please review the full list of winners below. Publishing detailed Reasons for Selection is a distinguishing feature of our competition: it provides transparency in the selection of winners and “raises the bar” so that other employers can discover and adopt initiatives that work well elsewhere.

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Toronto-based mortgage lender MCAN Financial Group lets employees work from an overseas location for up to 30 days in any year.

Eligibility Requirements

To be considered a "Small or Medium Enterprise" under the StatsCan definition, your company must: (a) have less than 500 employees worldwide, including employees at any affiliated companies; and (b) be a commercial, for-profit enterprise, i.e. non-profit organizations aren’t considered SMEs.

2025 Competition

Applications for our 2025 competition will be available early in 2024. Our 2025 winners will be announced in a special magazine in the spring of 2025. Join our mailing list to stay up to date and receive an application for next year's competition.

Employees at Victoria-based Redbrick Technologies listen to a company update delivered in film style at the annual holiday party. (Photo: S.O'Connor/Redbrick)
Employees at Victoria-based Redbrick Technologies listen to a company update delivered in film style at the annual holiday party. (Photo: S.O'Connor/Redbrick)


There's a lot to learn from Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2024). In an era where change has been the most constant factor in how, when and where we work, these winning companies have shown their resilience. And while finding the right balance may still be a work in progress, we're lucky to benefit by their example.

Why lucky? Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have long been the cornerstone of employment power – the little-and-medium-sized engine that accounts for an astonishing 99.8 per cent of businesses in this country, according to current statistics from the Government of Canada. With well over a million SMEs in Canada, standing out isn't easy. Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers not only embody best practices but lead with the most innovative and progressive workplace policies and programs in their field, so let's look at what gives a few of this year's winners an edge.

Culture is everything

Kim Carter, vice-president of people & culture at BluEarth Renewables Inc. in Calgary, says prioritizing the importance of its "very entrepreneurial" culture has given the medium-sized company one of its competitive advantages. It starts with building in-person relationships and that takes effort.

"We do a lot to feed, nurture and care for our culture, so we have intentional times when we bring large groups or the whole company together in person," says Carter. "We're very strategic around when we need to do that. It's part of our core foundation, so we're very committed to it. For instance, we have an annual corporate retreat focused on teamwork, collaboration, connection, and building and fostering relationships. There's a lot of face-to-face over three days – that's key."

With hybrid working arrangements, the company also engages in virtual communications to keep that sense of team and collaboration going, including a bi-weekly call to update everyone.

"There's no one secret sauce," says Carter. "It takes extra thinking outside the box and multiple activities. Right now, we've got a virtual race going on with people doing something active that improves their day-to-day lives. We're all engaged in this through an app with the support of our internal communications team. Wherever you are, there are opportunities to engage and be part of a team within the broader company."

Data is a driver

Ashley Snape, vice-president of corporate services at Vancouver-based Thrive Health says she's always checking the pulse of employees.

"It's not just about how the work is going, but how they're really feeling at work," she says. "We do that in several different ways, with a weekly pulse survey and one every month with different questions, such as, 'What's your top concern?' or 'Which of our company goals are you working towards?' Then there's our annual engagement survey, which is all-encompassing with questions about how they view the leadership team or view their benefits.

"Additionally, we've implemented a diversity inclusion survey to ask if people feel comfortable showing up at work as their true self and how we might better support people with different needs. We really try to cover all the different aspects of the employee journey."

Agility is a power

Being small (and medium) is another real benefit in terms of agility when it comes to competition. Cory Masters, director of people operations at Black & White Zebra Industries Inc. a media tech company in Vancouver, says she's had the opportunity to work for huge corporations so has seen both sides.

"We can move very quickly when we want to propose a change or test something," says Masters. "We can just say, let's try this. We iterate on things constantly – that's always been at the core of our values. We adapt quickly and we move fast.

"Another advantage is that our channels of communication are easy to access and that's by design. Any single individual on our team can book a call with a C-suite member whenever they want. Although we keep growing, we try to avoid those multiple layers of approval that are typically required to push things over the line.

"In our culture, we really like to encourage people to experiment – sometimes failing and learning from those mistakes – and we can do that while we're small. When you're big, it's not so easy because the impact is much larger."

Care and compassion count

An increased focus on wellness following the pandemic is another notable shift in many progressive companies. At Thrive Health, where 100 per cent of employees now work remotely, Snape says wellness is the foundation of the employee experience, contributing to everything they do. One example of that is the daily wellness check-in.

"It's not about time checking," says Snape. "Because we are humans, we need to be human with each other, not just working with each other. And although we work remotely, we still have a duty to ensure our employees are safe and well, especially those who may work alone. So we have this wellness bot that sends a little message every day, just so people can let us know they're okay."

Continuous learning engages

Besides having a caring culture, the top questions new recruits are asking these days concern career advancement and learning opportunities. Like most Top Employers, BluEarth Renewables supports lifelong learning with generous tuition subsidies, apprenticeships and formal mentoring, along with a variety of in-house and online training options. At BluEarth Renewables, Carter says they try to give people what they want when they want it.

"We subscribe all our employees to LinkedIn Learning, so they have access to a database of learning whenever they want," says Carter. "We're constantly looking at building skills, but it's far more accessible and easier to coordinate with the virtual tools and technology we now have.

"Fundamentally, people want meaningful work – to be valued and part of an organization that allows them to grow and develop. We do our best to try and achieve that every day."

So you want to work from a beach

Perhaps one of the most progressive and experimental elements in our post-pandemic world is being able to work from anywhere. At Black & White Zebra, Masters says all of its roles are posted with a remote option so people can choose to work wherever they want, as long as they meet the needs of their role.

"We're always asking, where in the world is Finn?" says Masters. "Because our employee Finn has a new home every month, we never know where he is. That doesn't matter as long as people understand that freedom comes with responsibility.

"With employees all over the world in different time zones, we don't have set core hours," she says. "Basically, you just need to know when it's required to be part of your meetings with the company and your team.

If you're getting your work done, and as long as we know when you'll be available, that's all we ask."

Hopefully these Top SMEs have sparked a few ideas. Please read on for more.

2024 Winners

Here are the 2024 winners of the Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers competition. Click an employer name to read our editors' full Reasons for Selection:

                                A confident man with crossed arms stands in front of a modern building with large windows and two totem poles.
Consulting firm Osedea, based in Montréal, offers $1,000 referral bonuses as an incentive for employees to recruit friends to the company. (Photo: A.Gagnon/Osedea)
Vancouver-based meal kit provider Fresh Prep Foods provides employees with a $15 Fresh Prep coupon every week.
Vancouver-based meal kit provider Fresh Prep Foods provides employees with a $15 Fresh Prep coupon every week.

The Benefit of Benefits

Canada's Top Small and Medium Employers have upped their game in a highly competitive race

When Fresh Prep Foods Inc. started in Vancouver in 2015 as a cook-it-yourself meal kit delivery service with just five employees, it was definitely in the "small" category of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Within the next two years, it began to take off, growing even more during the pandemic, and for 2022, at around 300+ employees, it was named one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers – with the emphasis now on "medium." Happily, it has remained on the coveted list ever since, reaching 430 employees for 2024.

But for 2025, Fresh Prep must say goodbye to the SME category – for all the best reasons. Through a just-completed strategic acquisition and its own success, it now employs well over 500 people, the competition limit. All of which makes co-founder and chief operating officer Husein Rahemtulla an ideal person for observations on the process of going from small to much bigger, and the differences.

In the beginning, he notes, SMEs like his usually have a family-like atmosphere. "And there's an ability to communicate a message and get it across to people in a more personal way. Being a founder-led business lends itself to that. I started the company with two friends who are still co-CEOs while I'm COO. Just being able to connect with people on the ground and talk about the vision and values and really answer their questions – I think it's very different if you have a corporation of a few thousand people."

But in fact, Rahemtulla hopes that Fresh Prep, which is currently in B.C. and Alberta and is soon to operate in Ontario and Québec, will reach about 1,000 employees within the next three years. How will the company keep them engaged? "It's a drastic difference," he agrees. "But I think a lot of the things we have in place will benefit us at that kind of size as well."

For one thing, Fresh Prep hasn't forgotten its idealistic roots, typical of many SMEs. "We are a Certified B Corporation," he says, noting that it covers the "triple bottom line" of people, planet and profit. "I think with employees, there's a lot of buy-in with us being a B Corp. They know there's good intent behind the business." One of its differentiators from competitive giants like Hello Fresh is its zero-waste packaging (along with the fact that everything is prepped – chopped and sliced and ready to cook).

Moreover, as it has grown, Fresh Prep has been able to bring in the kind of benefits larger companies offer – extended health, generous leave, an employee stock option program for the privately held firm, and, more unique, a $15 Fresh Prep coupon every week. Add to that an intensive emphasis on corporate transparency, including rules for calculating compensation. "So I think as we go, obviously you can't have the family feeling, the face-to-face. But I think the honesty and the candidness goes a really long way and brings a high level of trust."

It's a transformation that Richard Yerema, executive editor at Mediacorp Canada, which runs the competition, has often seen before. "Organizations get bought out, or absorbed, or they grow past the limit," he says. "There's always a healthy mixture of new and renewing employers on this list. It's a very busy part of the economy." But once they're on the winners list, Yerema notes, they're very conscious of what other Top Employers are doing. "They're developing and cultivating their HR programs and policies – it's off to the races they go."

Some, like Fresh Prep, are very growth-oriented while others are more than content to remain in a family-style mode for good. Typical are professional firms like 42-year-old Weston Consulting Group Inc., which currently has about 70 employees and is setting its sights on 100 by year-end for its urban planning and design services. "We've tried to be the best of both worlds," says president Mark Emery. "So any staff member can walk into my office and talk to me – I actually quite enjoy and encourage that. On the other hand, we've got to provide benefits that the big firms have, like RSP matching and parental leave top-up and others that we need to attract and keep very good people."

That expansion in benefits is the governing trend among 2024 winners. "There are very strong offerings this year, probably more than in past years," says Kristina Leung, managing editor at Mediacorp Canada. "Just the bench strength of the organizations is at a higher level. A lot have implemented programs and policies that historically we would have said were going to be found more at the larger or national organizations. It is a more competitive demographic all around."

Many SMEs, she says, are putting an emphasis on employee impact and empowerment, including transparency measures like Fresh Prep's, feedback mechanisms, or community involvement. But above all, she says, SME winners continue to improve their workplaces.

"It's the nature of the project – it's a competition. If you're not upping your game, not evolving your play strategy, the dial moves very quickly. So we have had some winners drop off from the competition as a result."

Or, as with Fresh Prep, succeed so well they must move to the next level.

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