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 Keystone Environmental Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2019):
- Burnaby-based Keystone Environmental is growing at an incredible pace, adding 16 new full-time positions in the past year (a year-over-year workforce increase of 20 per cent)
- Keystone Environmental keeps employees engaged through a number of social events and celebrations throughout the year, including a Christmas dinner and dance, a company picnic in the summer, mini golf tournaments and staff appreciation lunches
- Keystone Environmental offers a variety of financial benefits, including profit-sharing for all employees, signing bonuses for some, year-end bonuses for all and generous referral bonuses of up to $2,000
Keystone Environmental brainstorms staff well-being
There's a feeling of renewal and camaraderie at Keystone Environmental.
The Burnaby, B.C.-based environmental consulting firm - which has projects across Canada - has taken on the mission to be more innovative and place greater emphasis on employees' holistic well-being, all with input from the staff.
"We asked staff to help us be more creative around our business development initiatives," says President Raminder Grewal. One outside-the-box idea emerged during the brainstorming sessions that are now part of every quarterly all-staff meeting. "Someone suggested having a spa day with clients. That's a little different for us, but we thought it was a great idea and we're in the process of implementing it."
On the employee wellness side, Keystone Environmental has introduced initiatives that include an "employee goal wall," on which staffers place their personal goals, work-related or not. Grewal himself committed to donating blood every eight weeks.
"Someone has a goal on the wall about wanting to learn how to play a song on the guitar," notes COO Ray Bertani. "Another person wants to learn the Chinese alphabet. We encourage our employees to focus on their personal as well as their professional development. Putting these goals on the wall creates a buzz and encouragement from their peers that motivates individuals to follow through."
It's all part of letting employees know that their ideas on how to make the workplace better, and their need for fulfilling work and personal lives, are valued. Grewal explains that in 2017, when Keystone was 29 years old, the leadership group changed and a transition in the company's ownership resulted in a younger mean age for shareholders.
"We had been in business for a long time and had been quite successful, which makes it pretty easy to rest on your laurels and become complacent," he says. "A conscious decision was made by the leadership - with consultation from staff - to evolve, step out of our comfort zone and push the envelope."
Grewal says that resulted in "new ideas, a new outlook and a higher tolerance for risk that has led to a number of improvements in all areas of our operations. We are now able to promote a culture of innovation and continual improvement that flows through the entire organization."
"Most of the credit, though, goes to the dedicated employees of Keystone Environmental," he adds. As a result of staff feedback, the firm established an innovation committee, involving staff from all levels and departments, to look at how to streamline any and every company process, and that has led to a focus on automation of systems, greater wireless and remote connectivity, and a more efficient service delivery model.
At the same time, the firm has moved to greater collaboration and consultation, with an open-door policy and a larger number of meeting and collaboration spaces scattered throughout the office.
In 2017, Keystone Environmental hired Alison Boons as an Executive Assistant to focus largely on staff well-being and engagement. The firm's new Health & Wellness program regularly brings in guest speakers on topics ranging from retirement and estate planning to nutrition, and offers lunchtime yoga classes. Boons, with the help of the company's Social Committee, also co-ordinates regular office social events.
"There's a big focus on employees' overall well-being and enjoying their time here," she says. "It's not just how hard you work and how many hours you put in, but also how much fun can you have in the process." To promote work-life balance, Keystone encourages employees who work overtime to bank those hours and use them later. Staff also have the ability to work remotely.
Boons says there's been a noticeable change in staff engagement since the company adopted this new approach. "People really wanted to be involved in the conversation and are more than willing to throw out ideas and participate as a team, regardless of whether we are working toward a deadline or having a little fun."