Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 24, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Copperleaf Technologies Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2017):
- Copperleaf Technologies encourages employees to give back to the community with paid time off to volunteer and matching charitable employee donations
- Copperleaf Technologies employees have free access to a shared-use fitness facility, complete with outdoor basketball courts and instructor-led classes such as Zumba, kickboxing and bootcamp
- New employees at Copperleaf Technologies start with 3 weeks of paid vacation and receive paid time off during the winter holidays as well as paid personal days off
Every voice matters at Copperleaf Technologies
Just how democratic is the culture at Vancouver software company Copperleaf Technologies Inc.? Well, last fall, when the rapidly growing firm needed to expand to another floor, "the company came to us and said, 'Would you like to design it?'" recalls Gabriel Lessard-Kragen.
Copperleaf uses its C55 software to help organizations -- many of them utility companies -- make the best decisions about managing their assets and infrastructure. And though Lessard-Kragen is a junior employee who graduated with an Integrated Engineering degree just a year ago, he found himself part of the team planning the new space. He and others who would be working in the new office sat down with modelling programs and developed several walk-throughs before drawing up a plan.
"We actually built up the place ourselves; there was minimal outside input," says Lessard-Kragen, adding that they moved in in January. "It gave us an incredible sense of ownership, a sense that this is our place -- it wasn't just being delivered to us. You take someone on a tour and say, 'Hey, you know, I designed that wall.'"
That illustrates what Lessard-Kragen and Copperleaf's Vice-President of Marketing, Barry Quart, describe as a uniquely non-hierarchical, consultative workplace. "Nobody's opinion is more important than anybody else's," says Quart. "If you're in a meeting with Judi Hess, our CEO, and you think what she just said is wrong, our culture says you should stand up and say, 'I disagree with you,' and why, and share your experience.
"Judi doesn't just sit in an ivory tower somewhere. She's at the table having lunch with everybody and picking their brains about what's new in the product and what they're working on. So there's this constant effort to integrate all the levels of the organization."
Lessard-Kragen has been pleasantly surprised by how much his opinion matters. As a Project Manager on the Customer Experience team, he travels frequently to consult with clients, the current one being National Grid, an electric and natural gas utility operating in the northeast U.S. And he often goes on these trips with one of the company's VPs.
"We spend a lot of time together, and every single decision that we make, I'm asked for input, or she won't make a decision until I've had a say in it. It makes you feel like everyone's in it together."
Beyond the work environment, Copperleaf goes out of its way to foster that collegiality and sense of collaboration, Quart says. About four times of year, staff form teams and participate in fun, team-building competitions outside the office, such as seeing who can build the best catapult.
There's also something called the "RAD" (Random Acts of Delight) Initiative, in which staff members propose community activities for employees to participate in, such as the annual Vancouver Sun Run, which raises money for local charities. Copperleaf is happy to match employees' fundraising or to pay for staff members' time when they're volunteering.
Another positive about Copperleaf is a certain flexibility about work time. Lessard-Kragen notes that after returning from several very long days with an out-of-town customer, it's not unusual for him to be told, "Take a day -- go skiing." "We recognize that people cannot work 80 hours a week for their entire life or they're going to disconnect and get burnt-out," says Quart. "People need a balance."
Quart also cites the pleasure of working in a company which sets a high bar for its employees. "People like working with smart people because you're constantly learning things and challenging one another."