Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 19, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Absorb Software Inc. was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2019):
- Absorb Software starts its new employees with 3 weeks of paid vacation (moving to 4 weeks after just 3 years on the job) and offers 3 paid personal days off to help balance their work and personal commitments
- Employees at Absorb Software can unwind in an employee lounge complete with video games (and stadium seating for up to 16 individuals), classic tabletop video games, numerous large monitors for online gaming and video viewing, including weekly blooper screenings
Absorb strives for everyday joy in its workplace
When founder and CEO Mike Owens started Absorb Software, it was because he saw an opportunity to make learning management systems as elegant and intuitive as the courses they were delivering.
Owens had a proven history of designing beautiful learning experiences, only to have them ruined during delivery. "That was driving us gently insane because delivery platforms were ugly," Owens said, "and it was outside my control."
But better products were only part of the picture. Building a strong company culture was another driver for Owens, who wanted to balance delivering good products with the everyday joy of making something meaningful.
"Enjoying going to work has always been one of my fundamental pillars for the company," says Owens, "You spend a lot of time at work. There's no reason you shouldn't enjoy being at work and solving problems together."
And while Absorb has grown significantly over the years and expanded internationally, it still produces great products built by creative and dedicated employees at its Calgary headquarters. Absorb offers an inspiring physical location, a work-from-home option, a 35-hour work week ("because quantity does not make up for quality of work," Owens said), and a comprehensive suite of health-care plans and benefits, among other perks.
"Absorb has hit the perfect balance between needing to do the job and getting the job done, customer first as well as employees first," said Caitlyn Tran, client success manager. "They're providing a good experience at work so we can provide a good experience for our customers."
The company is proudly Calgarian. All hiring is done locally, and all software development has been kept in Calgary. Much time is spent mentoring team members, and professional development is offered in all areas. Absorb has also put a number of staff members through MBA programs. And it actively promotes women - a rarity in the industry and, Owens said, particularly in Calgary; over one-third of the Absorb executive team is women.
There are also plenty of opportunities for team building and fun. Events range from Stampeders games, lawn bowling and movie nights to trivia days, Nerf gun challenges and the much-loved Friday afternoon "Fails," where the whole team gathers in the boardroom for 10 minutes to watch funny videos.
"There's the feeling that we're all in the same boat and we're all working toward something," Tran said, "so we should all spend time together in a way that allows us to develop a friendship as well."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 11, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Absorb Software Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2019):
- Calgary-based Absorb Software continues to expand, adding nearly 50 new full-time positions in the past year (a year-over-year workforce increase of 47 per cent)
- Absorb Software encourages its employees to keep their skills up to date through in-house and online training programs, as well as unlimited tuition subsidies for courses related to their current position
Creative thinking wins the day at Absorb Software
When Mike Owens founded Calgary-based Absorb Software, makers of Absorb LMS (Learning Management System), in 2002, he drew on his 24 years of military experience in more ways than one.
Owens had his first exposure to e-learning while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. As a lieutenant-colonel, Owens was placed in charge of an early and innovative project to put weapons and field craft training online.
"It helped me steer clear of many of the pitfalls you read about of smart, young programmers who start businesses but don't have the leadership background and team-building skills to succeed over the long run," says the Absorb CEO. "It's also about something my army buddies and I took as a given: lead by example and personally meet or exceed the expectations you set for the rest of your team."
Absorb has succeeded by identifying and filling a void in the LMS marketplace and providing a fresh approach to corporate software training. Absorb LMS is available to customers on an annual or multi-year basis, empowering companies to efficiently train both internal and external learners in a variety of learning topics.
The company is currently on a significant growth curve, which is expected to nearly double the size of its workforce and includes additional international satellite offices in the United States, Europe and Asia Pacific.
Through all the growth, Owens continues to stress the need for creative and critical thinking and finding new ways to solve the technology challenges of tomorrow. At his latest annual town hall this past February, he struck a familiar theme: employees must continually challenge leadership with their ideas for better ways to serve client needs.
"I encourage dissenting views and talking through the root causes of work challenges," says Owens. "The ability to freely express opinions results in better decisions for the entire company."
Absorb has a young and dynamic workforce; more than a third of its full-time employees are under the age of 30. It also has a strong track record in supporting and promoting high performers. Observes Owen: "We have people who lead product divisions, or who are VPs, that are in these roles probably a decade earlier than would happen in any other work environment."
Being a trend-setting software company in Calgary has its own advantages. Absorb regularly draws employees from Silicon Valley and Vancouver who are attracted by the prospect of more affordable housing, shorter commutes and a high quality of life.
After working in the oil and gas and construction industries, Emad Issa joined Absorb as a business systems analyst in 2017.
"It's a one-of-a-kind company for Calgary," he says. "We are on the cutting edge, both from a technology and business perspective. The company is growing and providing software to big-name clients across the world. It's very exciting to be part of this."
Issa describes the work environment as "demanding, but also respectful of the need to have a balanced life." Absorb encourages employees to stick to an eight-hour work schedule. Staff are allowed to work from home one day a week and there is flexibility to deal with family illnesses or other unexpected circumstances.
"I was away on vacation and couldn't make it back to Calgary for my return date," says Issa. "I worked remotely, collaborated, put in my eight hours and it was acceptable to everyone."
Issa also appreciates the mentoring he's received and the open-door policy practiced by the Absorb leadership team.
"You really do have access to people higher in the hierarchy, including our CEO and CFO," he says. "You can ask for feedback at any time. Often, you'll also get asked for advice, which I find quite unique."
Owens says that approach is deliberate. "We're not a company that stands a lot on title. Your position or the size of your paycheque does not determine your importance in the decision-making process."