Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Samsung Electronics Canada Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017), Ten Best Companies to Work For (2016) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2017):
- Samsung Canada's LEED certified head office was designed with employee feedback and features a number of flexible and open workspaces to maximize employee collaboration, dedicated "idea rooms" and casual breakout areas, a technology showroom (featuring current and future technology), premium parking for hybrid and electric car commuters as well as charging stations for electric cars
- Samsung Canada established "Women@SECA" in 2013 to help female employees connect from across the company -- and support the goal of increasing the presence of women in executive positions by providing development, informal mentorship and networking opportunities
- Samsung Canada host an annual formal "Day of Giving" initiative where all employees volunteer for one day -- the company increased the number of volunteer hours committed this past year, donating approximately 10,000 hours versus the still impressive 2,500 hours donated in the previous year
For Samsung Canada, innovation is in everyone
It's hardly surprising that Samsung Canada likes to stress innovation for its employees. After all, it sells leading-edge devices, TVs, home appliances, and much more. But the company isn't just talking about its cohort of research and development techies. Samsung wants every employee - whether in sales, marketing, finance, legal, customer service or any other role - to be innovative in their work.
"We're the kind of company that is very future-forward," says Christine Greco, Vice President Human Resources and Corporate Affairs. "Nothing stays the same for very long in our organization."
That makes for a very stimulating environment at Samsung's Mississauga, Ont. headquarters, at its Burnaby, B.C.-based R&D Lab, and at its office in Montreal. "Individuals who are inspired, inventive and passionate thrive at Samsung," says Greco. "Our workplaces are full of energy, and have a very positive and creative vibe. And you can be creative in any of our roles."
Every year, the South Korean-based parent company runs a global employee survey that in part measures "how creative and inventive you can be in your job, how you've been able to grow yourself and therefore grow the organization," she says.
Samsung Canada has begun training on special tools for employees to use themselves and in teams to foster innovative thinking. These include company-wide and division-level workshops on Systematic Inventive Thinking, as well as hosting external speakers for employees to hear about future trends in technology beyond Samsung's own products.
"We're starting to give people really unique tools and ways to think differently around challenges they're facing," says Greco. "If you're an HR professional or a brand marketing leader on a consumer electronics product, you have different challenges. But these tools and external insights can be used to foster new thinking and approaches,"
For the R&D Lab team in suburban Vancouver, innovation is a way of life. Yet Zhibin Niu, a server specialist working on the Samsung Pay and Samsung Knox systems, still finds that the company is impressive in its ability to come up with breakthrough solutions, not just on technology but in managing processes. "People here are very open to new ideas," he says.
Empowerment, too. China-born Niu joined Samsung two years ago after earning a Master of Software Systems degree at the University of British Columbia. Since then he has been given exciting responsibilities, including starting up the system on the day of launch for a major new service, and he has travelled to the U.S., Europe and South Korea. "I have been given a lot of trust," he says. "I really appreciate it."
Samsung Canada is also keen to provide a comfortable and progressive work environment for its employees. Beyond old-style casual Fridays, its headquarters policy is now "dress for your day" - casual in the office if you prefer, business dress if you have clients to see. "It's been very well received," says Greco.
Work times are also becoming even more flexible. During the summer, employees could leave at noon on the Friday before a long weekend. Opportunities to work from home have been expanded. There are improved benefits, including support for eldercare in a partnership with Toronto's Bayshore HealthCare. Samsung has also introduced a peer-to peer and manager-to-employee recognition program called U r Awesome. Through an online and mobile app, the recognition can be social or offer points to be redeemed for an array of product or service rewards.
From benefits to casual dress, says Greco, "it all goes to the culture we want to enable, so you can be innovative and creative."
Samsung recognizes its 'awesome' employees
Donna Francis has plenty of reasons to like working at Samsung Canada. There's the strong training and development, the volunteer opportunities, the emphasis on innovation, the global environment. And then there's U r Awesome.
Samsung's online recognition program lets employees and managers give each other reward points when someone has been a big help to them or done a great job. It's known internally as one of the ways the company lives its values. For Francis, her accumulated 50,000 points in November 2014 translated to a $500 Visa card. Less than two years later, she was back up to 68,000 - $680 - and thinking about home furnishings for Christmas.
Pretty nice bonuses. Does that mean Francis is an especially popular colleague? "Those rewards are not at all uncommon," says Francis, a Human Resources Business Manager at the company's Mississauga, Ont. headquarters. "I'm not even on the high end."
U r Awesome also allows employees to give each other a social shout-out for being helpful in smaller ways - sending over a report quickly, say, or helping prepare for a meeting. "It's so timely," says Francis. "And it's really appreciated by people. Often I get a response back by email saying, thank you so much. It changes their demeanor for the whole day."
Recognition is a big part of the environment at Samsung Canada, says Christine Greco, Vice President Human Resources and Corporate Affairs. "The program has had amazing uptake - around 90 per cent usage," she says. "We're pretty proud of that."
There are additional rewards for Bright Ideas that employees submit. If that's not enough, people can also be recognized with Samsung Dollars to use to buy company products, and all employees receive 500 Samsung Dollars at the holiday season. "Our employees have a big passion for our products," says Greco. "Providing a way for them to acquire them is important because they are our best brand ambassadors."
And building that kind of engagement is what Samsung is all about, she notes. "Employees who are passionate, creative and driven thrive at Samsung," says Greco. "Our people want to contribute to a company with a future focus."
Samsung has about 380 employees in its Mississauga headquarters, concentrated mainly in sales, marketing and supply chain roles. They also work in corporate functions from finance to communications, and there is a small cohort of tech professionals in the Quality Assurance group.
For Francis, the modern headquarters building is another of the attractions. Workspaces are open-concept, with variable-height desks and plenty of meeting areas. There's an onsite gym with free lunchtime classes. And the "dress for your day" policy allows employees to wear casual clothes if it suits their responsibilities. "If you're feeling comfortable, your productivity level will be better," she says.
Francis joined Samsung in 2011 as a co-op student and rose steadily to her current position as an HR partner for four employee groups. She says she was given opportunities to work on a variety of projects, and offered increasing responsibilities in a short time. "The ability of Samsung to recognize my talent and skill sets quickly was very impressive," she says. "I wasn't told, you have to wait a year before you can try new things. It's more like, 'you take the reins - let's see what you can do with this.' The support structure is there for people to thrive."
She also appreciates the 60 hours of training and development that employees are strongly encouraged to take each year. Then there is global mobility - if it suits their roles, employees may be able to work in offices from New York to Korea.
As for volunteering, on Samsung's Day of Giving this year, Francis joined her colleagues in helping out at a local YMCA camp. "We were putting in our time, effort and sweat, not just handing out cheques," she says. "It was an awesome experience." This time, being Awesome was its own reward.