Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 21, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Legal Education Society of Alberta, The was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2017):
- The Legal Education Society of Alberta provides maternity leave top-up payments for employees who are new mothers (to 95% of salary for up to 8 weeks) and offers flexible work hours upon their return
- Along with 3 weeks of starting vacation allowance, the Legal Education Society of Alberta provides paid time off during the winter holidays
- In addition to supporting a number of local and national charitable initiatives each year, the Legal Education Society of Alberta encourages employees to participate in the selection of charities that receive the organization's support, and offers paid time off to volunteer
Flexibility and continuous improvement at LESA
Lawyer Matt Sommerfeldt had experienced some tense moments in the past, both in court and, earlier, as a teacher in front of his high school class. But he still broke into a sweat when he arrived for a job interview last year at the Legal Education Society of Alberta (LESA) offices in Edmonton.
"I was pretty nervous," Sommerfeldt recalls, but that feeling quickly dissipated. "From the moment I walked in, the openness of the workplace, the way people greeted me, I felt a collegial atmosphere that I had not felt at other jobs."
Nor anywhere else during his months-long exploration of next career steps as his contract as legal counsel to the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta was coming to an end. "While I waited for my interview to begin, people approached me smiling to say hello," says Sommerfeldt, now LESA's Director of Education. "It was a pretty stark contrast to the more formal offices I worked at in the past. And during the interviews, themselves, there was an immediate connection. I felt like I was talking to old friends."
Running things differently is just what LESA Executive Director Jennifer Flynn wants. "We have a kind of circular org chart," she explains. "People regularly work in other areas. That promotes flexibility and movement across the organization."
It also provides opportunities to develop professionally. "We attract high performers who want to continuously improve themselves," Flynn says. "The best way to motivate and retain them is to provide growth opportunities."
Flynn meets with all 20 of LESA's staff annually to review and refine their personal development plans. As well, everyone can potentially consult LESA's outside executive coach.
Despite its small size, the staff is accommodating enough to allow for flexible working conditions. On a rotational basis, everyone is entitled to take off every third Friday. Some people work a compressed week and others work from home some of the time.
In addition to their vacation time, everyone gets five days off between Christmas and New Year's as well as Easter Monday. And there's an extra day off for volunteer activities of an employee's choice. "Our people care about our community," says Flynn. "They appreciate the opportunity to give back in a meaningful way."
Sommerfeldt agrees. He is pleased he can continue his major role with an outside charity. "It's all part of being in the LESA family," he says.