Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 21, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Silvacom Ltd. was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2017):
- Silvacom invests in ongoing employee development with tuition subsidies for job-related courses, subsidies for professional accreditation and financial bonuses for some course completion (up to $1,200)
- Silvacom maintains a flexible health benefits plan, allowing employees to customize levels of coverage according to their personal needs and transfer unused credits to additional salary, savings, or paid time off
- Silvacom encourages employees to lead healthy active lives, offering seasonal fruit and healthy subsidized snacks onsite and health or wellness spending accounts of up to $1,000
Silvacom cultivates careers - and fun
At Silvacom, the social event of the season is an annual pig-roast fundraiser. It brings together employees of the Edmonton-based environmental consulting and software development firm to support the company's continued corporate social responsibility efforts with Canadian charity Classrooms for Africa.
But it's by no means the only opportunity for Silvacom employees to enjoy each other's company. Popular events also include a sum- mer family picnic, a monthly catered lunch, an annual awards night, and fun days throughout the year ? like its video-game night "The SilvaCup" and the highly competitive Chili Cook-off.
"We're very results-oriented," says the company's co-founder, President and CEO Tom Grabowski. "We see ourselves as professionals who respect, care for and support one another. But whether we're helping a client complete an ecosystem services assessment or developing a custom web application, we like to have fun doing it."
Silvacom works hard at bringing out the best in its employees. That begins with listening, says Grabowski. The firm conducts periodic staff surveys and tracks employee engagement every year using Gallup's Q12 product. This year's results showed Silvacom scored a higher employee engagement rate than 89 per cent of the companies that completed the survey globally.
The company invests in ongoing professional development by work-ing with employees to find training options that align with their natural talents or passions - and that can potentially create new business opportunities for the company. They offer employees tuition subsidies for job-related courses and subsidies for professional accreditation.
The overall result, says Grabowski, is an extremely engaged staff and a vibrant team culture. "We're not a micro-managed company," he says. "We rely on our staff to participate and push the envelope. They get a lot of rope to make decisions and make a difference."
As a new mom eight years ago, front-of-house Administrative Assistant Lisa Davies was initially attracted to Silvacom's family-friendly environment. The fun-loving atmosphere and the excellent benefits convinced her to stay.
Silvacom maintains a $1,000 flexible spending account, which enables employees to customize coverage for personal needs such as childcare expenses, RESPs, RSP top-ups, extra vacation time or additional healthcare coverage. The company also encourages healthy, active living by providing the opportunity to allocate funds towards health and fitness expenses.
"It's one of those jobs where you never dread coming into work in the morning," says Davies. "There's a healthy balance. We make sure the work is done, but we definitely make time to joke around with one another."
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 Silvacom Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2016):
- Silvacom offers new employees three weeks of paid vacation and considers previous work experience when setting vacation entitlements for experienced employees
- Silvacom encourages its employees to save for the longer term with matching RSP contributions -- and offers new employee referral bonuses (to $400) when they successfully help to recruit a friend
- Silvacom supports ongoing employee development with tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions, in-house and online training programs and financial bonuses for the completion of certain courses
Staying on the cutting edge at Silvacom
Rick Reid's first job after university was with Silvacom, an Edmonton-based company that provides consulting and software solutions to improve land management in the forestry and energy sectors. "I worked in the field as a compass man, which is probably the most junior position you could have," recalls Reid.
Twenty-one years later, Reid is Silvacom's Vice President of Opera-tions. But he is still on a learning curve.
"Staying current and progressive in our job knowledge is really critical to the kind of work we do," says Reid. "We operate in an environmental space that requires applying the latest best practices and using very advanced computing technology. So we are really big on continuous learning - and that's true for everyone from the CEO to the most junior employee."
Reid, who does most of the company's hiring these days, has several characteristics in mind when interviewing potential recruits.
"We look for people who are passionate about what they do and aren't happy with the status quo," he says. "They are lifelong learners, creative thinkers and want to produce results. They also need to be adaptable and team-oriented. Beyond all that, they should have a sense of humour. We like to have fun and there's always laughter around the office."
Once they find talented employees, the goal is to reward and retain them. "Given the nature of our work, we need highly experienced, top-quality personnel," says Reid. "More than a third of our current staff have been with us more than 10 years. We've learned that the key to retaining people is to trust and respect them, seek out their opinions and give them challenges and responsibilities. We also recognize their individual talents and contributions and pay them well."
At the same time, Silvacom encourages employees to think like owners. This has been facilitated through a broad-based employee ownership program.
Reid says today's employees want to know a company is concerned with more than just its fiscal bottom line. Silvacom, for example, is a strong supporter of the charitable organization, Classrooms for Africa. In recent months, employees and management have worked together to raise funds that built four classroom projects in Uganda.
For Elva Fogarty, who joined Silvacom in 2014 as the company's marketing and communications coordinator, that kind of community commitment is a big attraction. "This is a charity the owners of Silvacom have been involved with for many years," says Fogarty. "The cause is so commendable that you can't help but feel like you are working for a company that is making a positive difference."
Fogarty, who emigrated from Ireland shortly before joining Silvacom, appreciates the challenges and responsibilities she has been given.
"We have 60 employees and I'm the only marketing and communications person," she says. "There was no one in my role before, so I got the opportunity to set up all of our social media. There's huge career growth for me here and I definitely feel like I can contribute and that I'm appreciated."
Fogarty also enjoys the social aspect of working at Silvacom. "Our social club sponsors regular events, including potlucks, video game nights and sporting activities," she says. "There's also a strong emphasis on wellness, with fresh fruit brought in every day and yoga classes at lunch time."
A commitment to fitness and work-life balance is reinforced through a flexible spending account which gives employees $1,000 annually to spend on a wide range of things, including gym memberships or buying additional vacation time.
Employees are kept in the loop through an office intranet that everyone can post on. As a result, what Fogarty calls "our internal Facebook" features everything from updates on business unit activities to "shout-outs" in praise of individual performance.
Observes Reid: "We've learned over the years that you can't make people work for you; you have to create an environment where they want to work with you. That's what we try to do every day."