Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 28, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why FreshBooks was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2016):
- From its origins as a basement start-up in 2003, FreshBooks has grown to become an industry-leading provider of cloud-based accounting software used by over five million customers in over 120 countries -- the company has continued to grow at an exceptional pace, adding 63 new full-time jobs in the past year (a total workforce increase of 52%)
- FreshBooks encourages employees to adopt an ownership mentality through a share purchase plan, available to all employees
- An enlightened smaller employer, FreshBooks offers maternity and parental leave top-up payments to new mothers, fathers and adoptive parents, to 70% of salary for 17 weeks
- FreshBooks encourages employees to lead active, healthy lives and provides an annual $200 credit to help permanent employees cover the costs of wellness related expenses
Shared values drive an ambitious team at FreshBooks
Each summer, FreshBooks employees are treated to a cottage weekend north of Toronto. The PORCHFEST getaway is more than a clever catchphrase - it's also an acronym that embodies the company's values.
PORCHFEST stands for "Passion, Ownership, Results, Change, Honesty, Fun, Empathy, Strive and Trust," and they're what Co-Founder and CEO Mike McDerment looks for when hiring employees for his Toronto-based company, which produces cloud accounting software for small businesses.
"Our people are diverse, but they all share those values," he says. "Who we are and how we do things are the reasons we produce a world-class product for our customers."
Since the company was established in 2003, more than 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing and to collect billions of dollars. McDerment and his staff are dedicated to executing "extraordinary experiences every day" for their clients, who range from lawyers and marketing agencies to plumbers and therapists.
Thais Amaral enjoys her direct interactions with customers. She became a "FreshBooker" in 2013, when she was hired as a Visual Designer for the marketing team. Now a UX (User Experience) Designer, she helps ensure that the company's product is intuitive and simple to use. "When we're working on new features, I conduct research sessions with customers to ensure we're keeping them close during the building process," she says.
Amaral evolved her career path after expressing an interest in becoming a UX Designer. "I was encouraged to try it out for three months, and I received full support to make sure I met my goals," she says. Although Amaral feels there are still many new skills for her to acquire, she's now in a position to mentor junior designers and co-op students. "One of my favourite things to do is to help someone learn," she says.
Another part of the FreshBooks culture Amaral appreciates is the weekly company-wide meeting, where free lunch is shared, along with any new updates and employee successes. "When you work for a company that gives credit where it's deserved, it makes you want to work harder and keep growing," she says. "At the end of the meeting, Mike shares a 'nugget' of inspiration. He wants to inspire all of us to be leaders."
The corporate culture encourages all employees to push beyond their comfort zone. "We create an environment where people feel safe to test themselves, to reach beyond what they think they can do and to grow," says McDerment. "We have teams of smart people working collaboratively on big ambitious goals together - we're building a first of its kind product for a fast-growing market of self-employed professionals."
With almost 250 employees, it's challenging for all of the FreshBookers to get to know each other. That's where the company-wide Blind Dates come in, where teams that wouldn't normally interact are introduced over coffee or lunch. This initiative helps employees share ideas, collaborate and innovate, which results in producing the best possible product for customers.
Employees are passionate about their work and recognized for their accomplishments with Values Cards, which come with a gift card and are presented to deserving individuals from their coworkers. Several employees' dogs hang out at the office - including McDerment's rescue, Munroe - which puts smiles on faces. "We spend more waking hours at work than we do anywhere else, and we want people to enjoy themselves while they're here," says McDerment.
Along with the hard work, continuous learning and lightheartedness, a sense of responsibility for encouraging future technology leaders prevails. For the second year in a row, FreshBooks has hosted a March Break camp called Girls Learning Code, where eight- to 12-year-olds are taught how to build a technology business and get to showcase their projects at the end of the week.
"We believe it's early days for technology," says McDerment. "The world is moving more toward software technology, and we want to show the next generation that solving big challenges through technology is a great career choice."