For the CEOs of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies, making the right staffing decisions can sometimes mean the difference between a flat year and a high-growth year. How do they attract and retain their superstar workers? Here are a few of their secrets.
1. Allot time for staff projects Arrow Group of Companies (No. 20) gives employees what it calls “Arrow time”: a few hours a week during which they can work on any task—at the office, at home or elsewhere—as long as it’s at least tangentially related to Arrow’s business. “Some of our best innovations have come from people thinking on their independent time,” says CEO Sam Ibrahim.
2. Really show them the money To persuade staff that the profit-sharing program at Quick Contractors.com (No. 33) is truly designed to benefit all, president Trevor Bouchard practises complete financial transparency—from the cost of office furniture to every staffer’s salary. “A lot of profit-sharing programs are muddied by the fact that nobody knows the business costs, and the cause and effect on the profit shares,” he says. “We’re different. If I drive up in a Maserati tomorrow, people know that will directly impact their profitability.”
3. Customize jobs to the talent Millennials have different role expectations than older generations, finds Grail Noble, CEO of Yellow House Events (No. 54). So, she forgoes the typical competition for management jobs. “If there’s someone who has a particular gift, create the title for them that suits those particular skill sets,” she suggests.
4. Keep rivals out of your staff pool There’s a real war for talent going on among IT companies. “We steal from each other and make ourselves weak,” says Randy Lenaghan, CEO of Navantis (No. 489). So, he’s forged pacts with some competitors: “I won’t take yours if you don’t take mine.”
5. Accept that you’re a stepping stone An SME with a largely youthful staff is bound to struggle with retention. The average employee at S-Trip! (No. 25) is in their mid-20s. “It’s a very impatient workforce,” says president Alexander Handa. “The solution is giving people new challenges and understanding that this might not be [their] career for life.”
6. Listen, learn and help: When an employee consistently failed to arrive at the expected start time of 9 a.m., DevFacto Technologies’ (No. 7) Chris Izquierdo opted not to chastise but explore. He learned that the employee had insomnia. Not only did he make an exception but arranged to send the staffer to a sleep institute that cured him. Now, the employee shows up before 9 a.m. every day.