Cramped working conditions aside, the 260 employees at the Resort Municipality of Whistler are now officially on the payroll of the one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, according to the annual compilation published by Maclean’s magazine.
The RMOW was one of two local governments to make the Top 100, along with the City of York in Ontario.
The list of top employers is now an eight-year tradition with Maclean’s, with parent company Mediacorp Canada managing the competition and selection process through a panel of editors and experts. This year the panel invited more than 10,000 employers to apply for consideration, and evaluated each of the 1,800 applications based on criteria they have set. That criteria includes physical workspace, work and social atmosphere, benefits, vacation and leave, employee communications, performance management, training and skills development and community involvement. Other aspects of workplace culture, such as the municipality’s sustainability program, were also taken into consideration.
The Top 100 panel recognized several employee programs at the RMOW when selecting the municipality as a top employer in the Public Sector and Non-Profit category.
The program that topped the list was the free family memberships at Meadow Park Sports Centre to municipal employees, as well as the free bi-weekly yoga classes, staff room with free fair trade coffee, and the self-funded leave program where employees can set aside 20 per cent of their annual income each year to receive a paid year of leave every four years.
The RMOW’s commitment to the Whistler 2020 sustainability plan was also singled out by the panel, as was the municipality’s overall leadership on environmental issues. Municipal staff is encouraged to be a part of the planning and implementation of Whistler 2020, and many spent significant amounts of free time sitting on various Whistler 2020 task forces.
“No other municipality has reorganized their structure to align with their community vision and priorities,” said Denise Wood, the RMOW’s human resources advisor in a press release. “We really are unique for our cultural shift to sustainability, and for our 2020 Champion program.”
The municipality was also picked as one of the Top 30 employers in B.C. And according to annual internal staff surveys, 84 per cent of municipal employees are satisfied with the RMOW as a place to work.
“We’ve always known it to be the best place to work, but to be recognized, particularly for our municipal leadership in sustainability practices and work-life balance programs, is gratifying,” said Bill Barratt, chief administrative officer and a 25-year employee of the municipality.
One area where the panel likely gave the municipality low marks was in the physical workspace category. In August, the RMOW was forced to abandon plans to expand and renovate municipal hall when the price tag came in at $15.7 million, or almost triple what was originally budgeted. At the time the renovation was proposed, workers were complaining about the cramped conditions, substandard heating and cooling, and other deficiencies in the building that originally housed The Keg restaurant.