Canada’s Unemployment Rate and Shopify’s Employee Benefits Reach Record Highs

Shopify has been nominated for a 2013 Canadian Startup Award in the Employer of the Year category, and i have to admit, they make a pretty compelling case.

Stats on Canada’s unemployment rate are in, and they’re not good. The rate was recently pegged at 7.2%, up three points from as many months ago. Some analysts, like Unifor’s Jim Stanford, have the rate as high as 13% when you factor in unemployed people who have given up hope of finding a job (those types aren’t counted as part of Canada’s “labour force”).

It’s definitely a buyer’s job market. This state of affairs is reflected in increasingly demanding job postings that stridently list dozens of bullet points outlining what prospective employees can do for a company, but conveniently omit the other side of the equation, making no mention of salary ranges or employee benefits. It’s a wonder that our Employer of the Year category had any nominees at all!

It seems downright bizarre, then, to read through the list of employee perks and benefits on the Careers page at Shopify.  In addition to share options, catered lunch and breakfast, full medical coverage including health and dental, and conference allowances, Shopify goes full Santa Claus with a list of other bennies that seem too good to be true:

  • House cleaning: two hours of free house cleaning every two weeks
  • Sportify allowance: $250 toward staying healthy and active (new sneakers, a bike, yoga classes, rock climbing) and a gym membership
  • Child care: a baby bonus of $1,000 and $3,000 annually until the child is 5 years old
  • Maternal and paternal leave: up to 17 weeks off, at 85% take-home pay for maternity leave, and 3 weeks at 100% pay for parental leave
  • Peer based recognition: Employees can thank and recognize their peers for any work that was above and beyond. Other employees can vote on them and every month a certain percentage of Shopify’s total revenue is set aside so that a monetary bonus can be paid out based on the number of votes received.

i’ll just let the shock of that roll over you in a warm, sticky wave. If you need a few minutes of alone time before you keep reading, we’ll still be here.

Shopify’s Public Relations Manager Janet Park goes on to discuss the company’s holiday bonuses.  “Back in 2010, we gave each employee $1,000 and a day off to use that money specifically for holiday shopping,” she says. “In 2011 we supplied the entire office with custom made iPad cases from DODOcase, one of our online retailers, and then surprised everyone with an iPad to go inside them.”

That all sounds amazing, but i’m loathe to believe much of anything bubbling from the treacly lips of Public Relations Managers. For all we know, Shopify employees could be enjoying all these perks while they’re chained up inside the rank belly of a galley ship. When i initially tried to reach someone at Shopify, i found myself on the phone with Jon, one of the company’s technical support reps. i told Jon that his employer was up for the Employer of the Year award, and asked him if the thought the nomination was warranted.

“Absolutely,” Jon enthused. He eagerly told me about the company’s holiday bonus this year, a trip to skiing mecca Mount Tremblant for snow sports and spa services.  

Shopify would also like us to know that Johnny Mnemonic is the company’s most popular pinball table, the top score of which is held down by PR guy Mark Hayes (i’ll believe it when i see it, PR guy). In our interview, Park also mentioned something about employee autonomy and a sense of ownership in the company, but i wasn’t listening; my thoughts were on Shopify’s presumably Willy Wonka-esque interior, flowing with rivers of chocolate, caramel, and full dental.

We may not all have the chance to work for Shopify, but we all have the chance to vote for them. Cast your vote for Shopify and the other nominees in the 2013 Canadian Startup Awards!