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 Igloo Software was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2016):
- A Kitchener-based firm that has grown at an incredible pace, Igloo Software has added 23 new full-time positions in the past year, a total workforce increase of 50%
- Igloo Software encourages employees to adopt an ownership mentality through a share purchase plan
- New employees at Igloo Software receive three weeks of paid vacation to start, moving to four weeks after only three years on the job, and receive up to 5 additional paid personal days off that can be scheduled throughout the year
Igloo Software puts hierarchies on ice
You don't get bossed around at Igloo Software. Founder and CEO Dan Latendre takes pride in ensuring the company is a "flat" organization, rather than a hierarchy. "No one person is more important than another," he says.
That means a lot of teamwork and collaboration, and a lot of self-starters. "We say, don't come if you need to be told what to do," says Latendre. Instead, "we ask, what do we need to do to get the best out of you?"
Igloo, based in Kitchener, Ont. in the heart of Canada's leading tech community, has built a better intranet, the internal communications system that companies use to keep their employees informed. Many older systems are better at one-way communications, posting information for staff to read, but Igloo is much more social and interactive.
"We help companies make their intranet a destination," says Latendre. "Employees communicate, collaborate and share information to get their work done. We're really leveraging the social side of business and putting people front and centre in the organization."
There is a Twitter-style module for instant messages and chats, and such popular apps as Skype, Dropbox and Google Hangouts can be seamlessly integrated. The system is based in the cloud, meaning it can be accessed anywhere on a web-connected device, and is much easier to set up than traditional intranets.
Among Igloo's enterprise clients are BDO, Home Instead, and Golin, a communications firm owned by the Interpublic Group.
Founded in 2008 and now at 95 full-time employees, Igloo has been growing quickly. At one point in February this year, there were 30 positions open. The company's key job categories include software developers, project managers, client consultants, and sales and marketing roles, along with corporate functions.
Latendre says the company has set up what it calls "communities of practice", in which people who do similar tasks in different parts of the firm get together on a weekly basis to share information and best practices. This might involve designers or project managers from across the company, or writers from the technical side and from marketing. "You want the best and brightest minds working together," says Latendre. "It really helps with information and knowledge sharing."
Everyone at the company is an owner - stock options are part of the compensation. There is also a strong benefits package, three weeks' vacation to start and a wellness program involving weekly visits by a massage therapist and a homeopath.
But for Brian Weed, an experienced developer who started at the company in April 2015, the real attraction was the product itself. "I like the idea of making a social intranet," he says. "Today, people are used to using Facebook and Google+. They want to collaborate and communicate quickly, and they don't want to do it over email."
Weed joined as an applications developer and is now Technical Lead, Front-End Development, meaning he is accountable for what users see. As a veteran of BlackBerry and IBM, he likes the family feel of the much smaller Igloo. "I know everyone's name here," he says. "If you need something done, you just walk across the floor."
The surroundings are attractive, too. The open-plan office has a cluster of standing desks where staff often like to gather with their laptops. People can get around on hoverboards - which may be the new foosball at tech companies. And then there is the Ice Squad, an employee group that helps plan regular events including golf and tubing outings, holiday parties, and cake on payday, every other Friday.
People often work remotely and on their own schedule - they're simply required to be available in the core hours of 10am to 3pm. But Weed says he generally prefers to go to the office. "It's a good atmosphere," he says.