Post by: Julie Checknita, ECO Canada
This year’s Environmental Employers of the Year Awards recognized employers within Canada’s environment industry for their commitment and dedication to engaging employees – and for simply being seen as a great place to work. Winning organizations were selected based on the feedback of employees through ECO Canada’s engagement survey and through HR essays showcasing some of the organization’s most innovative HR strategies.
Why is employee engagement so significant? For professionals, being engaged in your work is integral to career success. Feeling motivated to do more than what is normally required, believing that your contribution is valued and being willing to recommend your employer are all aspects of engagement that pay big dividends in professional growth.
From an employer’s perspective, enthusiastic and motivated employees are the ultimate enablers of innovative thinking, effective problem solving and outstanding client service. High engagement rates in an organization translate into enhanced productivity, reduced employee turnover, increased revenue and greater client satisfaction.
Whether you are an employer looking to improve employee engagement, a mid career professional exploring other options, or a recent graduate seeking employment in the environment sector, understanding what good employee engagement looks like is important.
What are the 5 winning organizations doing right?
Here are the 2012 Environmental Employers of the Year:
Inside Education has a vibrant learning organization culture where knowledge sharing and continuous learning are intrinsic to the organization. They offer their employees unparalleled professional development opportunities. Their employees’ perspectives are broadened by the wide variety of experiences they provide them on the job: visiting a wind turbine operation; flying over the oil sands; floating down a river on a raft; walking a forest trail; or hearing presentations from experts in government, industry, aboriginal and environmental groups. In a more structured learning environment, they might be attending a management seminar, technology workshop, conference, or scientific lecture.
They are also encouraged to seek out learning opportunities not only for themselves, but also for their colleagues. Last year Inside Education developed an innovative benefit called the Learning & Wellness Allowance, which provides a designated annual amount for each employee to self-identify and pursue learning opportunities on their own initiative. This is in addition to the financial support that they provide in assigned or directed learning and mentoring.
LEPS – Langley Environmental Partners Society:
Although, as a nonprofit, they are challenged in that they cannot offer health benefits and regularly increasing wage levels, they balance this by being accommodating and flexible with staff hours and offering telecommuting options, allowing a healthy work-life balance for employees. LEPS also provides “Flex Fridays”, where the office is closed every second Friday. This flexibility comes back in production, having happy, fulfilled and self-motivated staff willing to go the distance to ensure the best for their organization.
Sims Recycling Solutions:
At Sims, they want to create an environment where individuals are encouraged to reach their potential. One of the ways this is accomplished is by paying for continuing education through their Education Assistance Program (up to $2000/year for all employees to take continuous education); and by providing continuous training for all employees to help them develop and grow.
They take this one step further by investing in the development and growth in not only their employees, but their employee’s children who are getting ready to or are attending University by awarding a $1500.00 scholarship program through their parent company.
At Transfert, staff are strongly encouraged to initiate social activities. These activities are varied and occur throughout the year at the whim of arising opportunities. The participation rate of employees is almost 100%. Therefore, maintaining the “non-social club” is now a part of the list of activities included in the company’s pride strategy.
The following list introduces some of the events held in the past:
- Défi à l’entreprise (Corporate challenge) – Transfert Environnement was the winner of the 2011 edition, first place, among 50 participants;
- Earth Day Canada’s upcycling challenge – Earth Day Canada (Transfert Environnement was the winner of the Earth Day Canada prize in the 2011 competition);
- Montreal marathon;
- Snow pentathlon;
- and field trips such as snowshoeing, curling and sledding.
EDI Environmental Dynamics Inc.:
EDI maintains a commitment to “people first”, and has continued to grow in a measured, sustainable way. In 2011, they diversified their service and client base with the purchase of Streamline Environmental Consulting. It has been a relatively seamless transition, and the new employees have embraced the exceptional level of team support from their colleagues.
Success did not happen by chance, but was a series of important and planned steps: it was imperative managers clearly communicated to new employees EDI’s commitment to the growth of the company and all staff, and that the new relationship expected to evolve would not only be for the betterment of the company, but for every employee through new collaborations and projects. Immediate steps were taken to start integrating existing and new staff into projects.
Resources available to the existing EDI team were made available to the newest members of EDI immediately. The single most important attribute of the Streamline acquisition was that of retention. This had to be recognized as the primary objective of this new venture, as it was clear that without the people, there was no real asset. EDI is proud to state that through the integration of the two companies, all staff have remained.