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."