Competitive market scan: What top brands are offering talent beyond cash compensation

In a market where the demand for talent is greater than the supply, big brands like Shopify and Instacart have become leaders in attracting and retaining top talent in Canada. Alongside the success of their products, these companies gained their competitive advantage by investing in their employer brands and positioning themselves as employers of choice in the areas of total compensation, career development and workplace culture

Recognizing that earlier stage companies don’t have the same budgets as these large players, we dug into the digital employer brands of Shopify and Instacart to learn more about the affordable and unique benefits they offer to maintain their competitive edge. The following employer brand scan will help you measure how your company compares in the market and give you some quick-win ideas that can be tailored to and introduced into your organization. In doing so, it’s important to remember that top-performing talent programs are thoughtfully designed and add intrinsic value for employees while remaining authentic to your brand.

Total compensation beyond cash salaries

Total compensation is the collection of cash compensation, benefit and monetary-reward programs offered to employees, including work-life integration plans that give employees the flexibility to choose when and how they work. The highest-rated compensation programs provide flexibility to meet individual needs and evolve to remain competitive in the market.

Shopify Instacart
Work-life integration
  • Digital-first office
  • Flexible working hours 
  • Flexible paid time off (PTO)
  • R&R Fridays: Four-day workweeks in summer during the pandemic
  • Destination90: Work from almost any country for up to 90 days every year
  • Unlimited PTO
  • Flexible working schedules
  • Hybrid working model (in office, flex or remote)
  • Mobility support program for employees to move between Canadian and U.S. offices
Unique health & wellness benefits
  • Restricted stock units (RSUs) or a mix of RSUs and stock options
  • Parental leave top-up for new mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents 
  • Flexible lifestyle or health spending account 
  • Generous mental health practitioner budget
  • No benefit waiting period
  • RSUs
  • Health benefits cover all modern family planning
  • Physical and mental wellness programs and stipends
Other benefits & perks
  • Home office allowance to personalize your at-home experience
  • Internet allowance
  • Work-from-home stipend
  • Grocery discounts, like free Instacart Express (no delivery fee)
  • Catered lunches, on-site gym, rooftop workspace (in office)
  • Student loan assistance

Career development

Top-performing employees want to be recognized for their work and have the opportunity to develop their careers. Programs that enable this are critical to retaining top talent. These can include internal and external learning resources, career and succession-planning programs, and regular performance reviews. Without these types of structures, you increase the risk of losing top performers to organizations that publicly invest in their employees.

Shopify Instacart
Learning & development
  • Self-directed budgets to support learning and growth 
  • Leadership training
  • Subsidies for professional accreditation
  • Peer-to-peer-run workshops
  • Annual professional development allowance
  • Customized learning and development programs
Career growth & advancement
  • Mentorship program
  • In-house career-planning services
  • Management encourages creativity and career growth
  • Refer to internal structure as “a jungle gym and not a ladder”
  • Job-shadowing program
  • Regular career-advancement conversations and career-path planning
Performance reviews & feedback
  • Annual salary and performance reviews
  • Regular manager one-on-ones
  • Semi-annual performance and salary reviews
  • Regular peer-to-peer feedback (open feedback culture)  
  • Regular one-on-ones with manager
Awards & recognition  

  • Online recognition platform 
  • Peer-to-peer recognition awards
  • Long-service awards
  • Equity awards to recognize employee impact
  • Birthday gift program
  • Welcome packages
  • “Thank-you” merch for all final-round candidates
  • Cheers: Peer-to-peer recognition points that can be redeemed for tangible gifts 
  • Golden Carrot: Impact awards 
  • Team competitions for prizes and awards
  • Birthday and anniversary gifts
  • Internal conferences (summits)
  • Hack days
  • Meetups and workshops (including cooking and baking classes)
  • Games and competitions for skill development (such as team pitch competitions)


Culture is the shared set of values, goals and behaviours of an organization. More and more, employees are looking to join organizations in which they feel connected to their work, have a positive impact on the causes they care about and work in an environment that provides a true sense of belonging. Top brands share this sentiment with employees through effective branding, internal employee programs and corporate social responsibility initiatives. 

Shopify Instacart
Employer mission & values Mission: Make commerce better for everyone


  • Be impactful
  • Be merchant obsessed
  • Make great decisions quickly
  • Thrive on change
  • Be a constant learner
  • Build for the long term
Mission: Create a world where everyone has access to the food they love and more time to enjoy it together


  • Solve for the customer
  • Every minute counts
  • This is your baby
  • Go far together
  • Of course, but maybe
“Why work with us” statement Our team spirit looks a lot like entrepreneurial spirit. We’re astrophysicists, high school dropouts, salsa dancers and business owners. The path to Shopify is never a straight line, but the common thread is our ability to thrive on change, operate with trust and celebrate the diverse perspectives of our people in all that we do. At Instacart, we believe that great people are the ingredients for success. We like to think that we are like a potluck, everyone brings something new, different and flavourful to the table. Our mix of thoughtful, inventive and neighbourly employees work together to deliver our common goal, to make grocery shopping accessible to everyone and give valuable time back to our customers. We believe that just as meals are best shared together, success is best shared together. If this excites you, then Instacart just might be the place for you.
Events & team bonding
  • Digital by design: work digitally 90% of the time, come together 10%
  • Regular happy hours
  • Slack channels on any topic
  • Teams are no more than three hours apart in time zones
  • Active social Slack channels for any topic
  • Regular team events (virtual escape rooms, happy hours, Airbnb experiences)
  • Employee-led “extracurricular” activities during work hours (yoga, fitness, meditation classes)
Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Various employee resource groups
  • Diversity and belonging committee
  • Month-long heritage celebrations
  • Recruitment commitment to source from under-represented groups
  • Employee resource groups that are working to support, attract, retain and grow under-represented employees at Instacart
  • Cultural heritage month celebrations
Corporate social responsibility
  • Volunteer outings
  • Instacart Serves
  • Specific donations around food equity and security, especially for under-represented groups

Employer branding efforts

Your employer brand is your reputation as an employer. It’s what candidates see when they look you up online and ask around about you. Investing in your employer brand directly impacts your brand awareness and ability to attract talent. Shopify, Twitter and Instacart all have active employer brands across various channels that tell their stories as employers. 

Shopify Instacart
Top communication channels
Employee reviews “Good advancement options for dedicated people. Long work hours but good remuneration. Working from home is quite comfortable. Colleagues are supportive.” –Indeed


“Everything you hear about the culture is generally true. They meet expectations of their mission internally and externally.” –Shopify employee interview

Great compensation and exceptional culture.” –Glassdoor

“Growing company with innovation in the grocery delivery industry. It is fun to work on interesting problems.” –Glassdoor

Have you identified other talent competitors for your company? Research them online (in places such as career sites, Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Comparably) to see what they are offering to attract and retain talent.