From a company that welcomes dogs at work to a business that literally breaks down barriers with wall-free office space, the efforts made by bosses to keep their employees happy were celebrated at the 11th annual Employees’ Choice Awards.
The networking reception and awards ceremony was held Thursday at the exclusive Rideau Club, where there was still time in the late afternoon to see the sun set around Parliament Hill.
It's a big deal to win an Employees’ Choice Award. It provides companies with affirmation that they’re on the right track when it comes to creating a good work environment. It also boosts their workplace cred as they try to attract and retain the best in the biz.
“In Ottawa, especially, the fight for talent is fierce,” said Michael Horne, co-founder and partner at Meldrum Horne & Associates, an Ottawa-based firm specializing in employee benefits, pension, insurance and retirement planning. “Most of the companies we work with want to be at the top of whatever industry sector they’re in.”
Meldrum Horne & Associates sponsored the awards, which were hosted by the Ottawa Business Journal and Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.
“Success in business truly is dependent on the quality of the team that you can build these days,” OBJ publisher Michael Curran said in his welcoming remarks.
Nearly 20 companies participated this year by having their employees complete a confidential survey processed by TalentMap, an Ottawa-based firm specializing in employee satisfaction.
Making this year’s Top 10 were: Brookstreet Hotel, Collins Barrow, Decisive Technologies, Giant Tiger, Iversoft, The Marshes Golf Club, Martello Technologies, Prontoforms, RealDecoy and Syntronic.
Notably absent was the mascot from Giant Tiger but not because he failed to meet the Rideau Club dress code. Neckties are only required in the formal dining room.
Accounting firm Collins Barrow has made the list several times over the years and, after taking a break from the survey, got involved again this year to see whether it's still got its employee-satisfaction mojo. It does.
“It feels really good,” said Ottawa managing partner Kenneth Tammadge, who’s proud of the level of mentorship at the firm, which has 100-plus staff in Ottawa and another 15 people in the Gatineau office.
“You’re always unsure going into (the survey) … but part of it is, really, about getting feedback from the employees to see how we’re doing, and about trying to improve the workplace,” said Tammadge.
Not only did the Terry Matthews-owned Brookstreet Hotel once again place in the top 10, but the high-tech guru’s The Marshes Golf Course did, as well. He’s chairman of another one of the award winners, Martello Technologies, whose high-energy, fun-loving CEO is Bruce Linton.
As of yesterday, the folks at RealDecoy had yet to announce their crowning achievement to the office. They planned to do the big reveal during its year-end review today, in front of its staff of nearly 100.
The business technology specialists don’t take a gimmicky approach when it comes to winning over its employees, said company chairman Geoff Waddington. Rather, he credits their fourth-time Employees' Choice Award to “solid communication, good management and good leadership” and “fundamental values, based on keeping people happy and engaged”.
Decisive Technologies, an enterprise IT infrastructure company, told OBJ.social that it doesn’t believe in the ivory tower mentality of corner offices. It has consciously done away with walled office spaces to keep its workplace feeling inclusive.
“You get the pulse of the company,” explained executive vice president Richard Losier. “You hear the conversations around you and know what’s happening around you. You have a better idea of how good or bad your company is doing.”
Not only does Iversoft Solutions permit pups, it seeks to hire people who totally dig dogs. This helps to keep dog owners happy, since they don’t have to worry about leaving their pet home alone all day. The mobile app development company has between eight and 12 furry friends at the office.
“Other people who don’t have dogs, because they may not want the responsibility of owning one, get to come to work and hang out with dogs,” said Vicki Iverson, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer, while adding that spending a few minutes patting a pooch is a great way to relieve stress.