Canadian Startup Award Nominee FreshBooks Boasts Breakfast, Benefits for Employees

FreshBooks has been nominated for a 2013 Canadian Startup Award in the Employer of the Year category. Let’s find out how they got there.

Dreary news dropped today that Toronto’s unemployment rate has risen to 10.1%.  Mayor-in-name-only Rob Ford responded by saying “Toronto is booming,” but he smokes crack. It feels like stepping into a fantasy land, then, to interview a company like Toronto’s FreshBooks, where their commitment to employee retention and satisfaction seems perversely out of step with the bad news of joblessness all around them.

FreshBooks makes accounting software with a focus on small businesses. Like their co-nominee Shopify, reading through the company’s career page is like traveling back in time to 2000, just before the dot com bubble burst, when the most important thing to ask about a company in a job interview was “what colour is the felt on the pool table?”

In addition to the desirous Holy Grail of 100% health benefits, FreshBooks sweetens the deal with an office fully stocked with breakfast food and snacks, and a shower and towel service for bike commuters—a real boon to cyclists who need to scrub off the stench of fear from riding on Toronto’s bike-hating streets (thanks again, Rob Ford).

FreshBooks will pay for employees to take volunteer or charity days.  They offer paid parental leave. They have a beer fridge. They have a foosball table featuring skewered Manchester United players who have been miniaturized by the company’s impressive shrink ray, which employees can sign out for weekend fun.

…Okay. i made up the shrink ray part. But they do have a regular foosball table.

Although the company’s website doesn’t mention it, FreshBooks does indeed offer employees share options so that everyone feels a sense of ownership in the company. FreshBooks says their turnover rate is well below the industry average, due in part to the kid- and dog-friendly office where people are free to dress so casually that if an employee were to show up wearing jammies, hardly anyone would bat an eye.

Finally, the company permits a flexible work schedule (“within reason”), which has proven to be a very desirable workplace perk that increases employee loyalty and satisfaction.

Excitingly, the Employer of the Year category is a very close race between Shopify and FreshBooks. Pound for pound, Shopify has the edge as far as the sheer number of culture-sweeteners they offer, but they do have to work a little harder to attract employees because they’re based in Ottawa. After all, who would choose to work for Shopify in Ottawa, when they’ve got FreshBooks in fair Toronto, with its deathtrap bike lane deficient streets and its crack-smoking disgraced mayor?

Don’t answer that! Just click the vote button however you see fit on the 2013 Canadian Startup Awards page.