Event Recap: Toronto Best Places to Work Roadshow

Event Recap: Toronto Best Places to Work Roadshow

Not long ago, I was a student of Humber College's graduate public relations program, where between lectures I would dreamily surf Glassdoor looking at company profiles, ratings, job postings and salary expectations. Having decided to make a career change at the age of 29 and invest in my education, this time spent on Glassdoor represented a hope that I would soon be entering a larger world.

Now I am a proud member of The Exchange Lab's marketing team in Toronto, working with colleagues in the U.S., England and around the world. Recently, when offered the chance to attend a Glassdoor event where I would hear from representatives of Glassdoor's much touted Best Places to Work 2016 list (and enjoy a free breakfast at Toronto's prestigious King Edward Hotel), it was a no-brainer. I was not disappointed.

Key takeaways

All three of the speakers who presented that day provided food for thought when it came to fostering employee retention and well-being in addition to promoting shared values among their companies.

First up was Mo Jessa, the President of Earl's Kitchen and Bar, who exuded a larger-than-life presence and a clear love for his employees. When the company was having problems with employee retention, they invested heavily in fostering a strong sense of company culture. They started an intranet, reinvigorated their company mission and gave even seasonal employees the opportunity to take professional development courses to boost their skills. The results: they reduced hiring costs by $1M and increased retention from 28% to 43%. Earl's mission statement, which any of their employees can repeat verbatim, is: "We believe in people living large, purposeful lives full of fun," and listening to Mo relate the spirit of enthusiasm that pervades his company's restaurants, the authenticity of the slogan rings true.

Next was Katie Burke, the VP of Culture & Experience for Hubspot - a title that demonstrates the company's commitment to having a healthy corporate culture. "People want to be a part of something larger than themselves," she asserted, going on to say that even the newest employee should be able to define the company mission and values. She emphasized the need for regular communication with employees, and stressed the importance of ongoing employee feedback as being key to defining a company culture - all the best ideas come from the ground up. Believe it or not, Hubspot actually owns the official website for Waffle Wednesday, run by one of their employees. A delicious project, but also a demonstration of their commitment to encouraging employees to define what company culture means to them and challenge the status quo.

Finally, we heard from James Arsenault, the Director of Product Marketing at Ceridian, a company that, similar to Earl's, hit a slump in fostering morale and retention back in 2013. This galvanized them to invest heavily in inspiring company culture. They invested significantly in developing unparalleled work/life balance and conducting regular employee surveys and Town Halls to see what is and isn't working, ultimately raising their Glassdoor score from 2.2 to 4.1 in three years. Their commitment to team building and giving back to the community is truly inspiring.

Paying it forward

By the end of the Glassdoor event, my head was whirring with ideas.

I ran back to the office with my notebook and Glassdoor-branded paddleball set in tow to relay all of the unique insights and ideas I had absorbed with my colleagues and started brainstorming how we could begin putting them into practice. Here at The Exchange Lab, we have regular socials and an excellent work-life balance, but we can always do more, particularly when it comes to making our colleagues agents of their own company culture and ensuring an ongoing dialogue that encourages collaboration between departments.

Undoubtedly, our company will profit greatly from the knowledge I gleaned and our continued relationship with Glassdoor. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be planning our next Taco Tuesday.