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 Rocky Mountaineer was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2017):
- Along with a unique vacation destination work environment for many employees, Rocky Mountaineer offers new employees 3 weeks of vacation, moving to a maximum of 5 weeks for long serving employees
- Rocky Mountaineer encourages employees to save for the future with annual RSP contributions and offers referral bonuses when employees successfully recruit a candidate from their personal network (from $750 to $1,500, depending on the position)
- Rocky Mountaineer supports ongoing employee education with tuition subsidies for job-related courses, subsidies for professional accreditation, in-house training programs and apprenticeship opportunities
At Rocky Mountaineer, all aboard the excitement train
On his first day as a guest service manager at Rocky Mountaineer, Charlie Millar remembers walking into a meeting room for orientation. "Within minutes, I had half of the on-board managers surrounding me, telling me stories, getting me excited, affirming my decision to work there," he says. Their enthusiasm validated a line he had recently heard from a hiring manager: "Working on board the train is the hardest job you'll ever love."
"I couldn't agree more," says Millar, who is now Manager, Service Excellence, for the Vancouver-based tourism company which runs luxury trains through the Pacific Northwest and the Canadian Rockies. "It's the most rewarding job I've had in my life."
That kind of positivity permeates the growing organization, which puts a premium on hiring highly social, outgoing people, especially as on-board hosts. "We're very proud that we've been scored as one of the leading tourism businesses in the world based on people's likelihood to recommend your product to others, and you can't do that without great people," says President Steve Sammut.
"From the frontline and rail operations teams, to the global sales team and head office, everyone has a sense of a shared purpose, and I think that's what makes it such a fine place to work," he says. "It's that idea that you can do something really special, and have a profound impact on someone's life, through the product that we have."
The company has 252 full-time employees globally, including 182 in Canada, but between April and October, when the trains are running, the number swells to nearly 700, as the seasonal teams come aboard. Sammut says about 80 per cent are Rocky Mountaineer veterans who return every year.
For the hosts, who both explain the sights and serve food and drink, each trip is different, as the particular mix of tourists get to know each other and the employees. Some 85 per cent of the guests come from outside Canada, mainly from English-speaking countries, and most hosts have stories of, "if you're ever in Australia, look us up" -- and often stay in touch.
"At the end of my very first trip, I had 50 people forming a conga line to get off the coach in Vancouver," says Millar. "The last person, a little old lady, pinched my cheeks and gave me a kiss, then ran away laughing to herself."
The hosts are not the only ones who get to enjoy the ride -- so do head office staff. "We make sure every employee gets on the train in their first year," says Sammut. "You have to experience the trip to understand our business."
Sammut says the company gets important feedback about the service from staff. One suggested a train check-in service at the hotel, so passengers could avoid line-ups at departure the next morning. The company also holds semi-annual town halls and smaller roundtable conversations with executives. "We promote two-way communication, because it's amazing what you can learn when you listen to your team members," says Sammut.
Employees were also consulted before the company recently moved into its new headquarters in downtown Vancouver. It features floor-to-ceiling windows, sit-stand desks, an onsite gym, a rooftop function area, plenty of collaborative spaces, and a staircase connecting the company's two floors. "It encourages people to walk up and down to see each other," says Sammut. "Some of the best ideas happen in the hallways."
The company believes its people are its greatest asset, explains Human Resources Vice President Adam Charania. "We offer a robust compensation program and attractive policies that support our team in balancing work, life and family commitments."
To Millar, an experienced hospitality professional, Rocky Mountaineer stands out for the way it treats its people. "This is an organization that wants to take care of you, and truly believes in setting its people up for success," he says. "They really focus on the personal and professional growth of their employees."