Culture Club

Good help really is hard to find. To retain your best employees, create a work environment that makes it hard for them to want to leave

When you hire, or when you want to ensure your company retains employees, your smartest approach is to carve out a strong company culture. Jennifer Mondoux, managing director of the Ottawa office of Waterstone Human Capital, a recruitment company, suggests starting by labelling the behaviours that you like on the job. Kind? Organized? Pro-client? Whatever those actions are, emulate them yourself, keep them in mind the next time you hire, and start talking to your team about them.

Roger Smith, president of Olson Construction, a general contracting company in Golden, B.C., says a pivotal word is respect – even when things aren’t going perfectly on a job. “When you put together a good crew, you owe it to them to give them the benefit of the doubt.” His guys get a lot of autonomy and in return, they’re expected to solve small problems themselves.

Jeff Andrew, co-owner of Superior Home Improvements, a window and door installation company in Toronto, created his company culture from what he didn’t like: the vibe at a nasty former employer. “People weren’t people to them; they were just mean.” At his company, he follows the golden rule of treating others as he himself wants to be treated.

Blair Foisy, owner of Trademark Renovations, a Calgary based project management renovation company, hires people with a “glass-half-full attitude” and manages with the same approach. “Positive reinforcement is really miles and miles more effective than any negative discussions.” His team of four project managers get paid on commission and help make key company decisions. “You have to listen to the guy on the ground, or you’re toast. They’re interacting with the client and the trades and they’re able to give me insights I might not be able to see for months.”
—Diane Peters, from the April/May 2015 Money Issue