Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why R.F. Binnie & Associates Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018) and BC's Top Employers (2018) :
- R.F. Binnie & Associates supports employees who are new mothers with maternity leave top-up payments (to 90% of salary for 17 weeks) and offers the option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence -- the company also provides a small top-up for fathers and adoptive parents (90% of salary for 2 weeks)
- In addition to the company's regular health benefits plan, R.F. Binnie & Associates offers a health spending account of up to $850 which can be used to top up existing levels of coverage
Mentorships help Binnie build for the future
For a junior employee, a mentor provides support, guidance, insight and encouragement based on years of experience. At R.F. Binnie & Associates, the relationship works both ways.
Strong mentoring relationships have helped Binnie to create a workplace that reflects the evolving priorities of its employees. In addition to educational allowances, fitness credits and transit allowances, for example, Binnie accommodates employees who prefer to commute to work by bicycle or who form car pools and who may not even own a vehicle.
"I learn so much from the people I mentor," says Sharon Goddard, Knowledge Leader and Senior Project Manager at the company's head office in Burnaby, B.C.
Founded in 1969, Binnie has earned a reputation for its high standards in civil engineering, surveying and project management services that it delivers to public and private-sector clients. An employee-owned firm, the company offers profit-sharing and referral bonuses of up to $5,000 for employees who recruit candidates from their personal networks.
"When I started my career," says Goddard, who joined Binnie in 2011 after working in the public sector for more than 20 years, "you almost took it for granted that everyone owned a car. Now, if employees have to make a site visit, we don't tell them they need a car. We have an arrangement so they can use a Binnie vehicle. We even raise this point in job interviews."
With 200 full- and part-time employees across six offices in B.C. and Alberta, Binnie has laid the groundwork for its future growth, in part, by responding to the changing priorities of its employees. But as Goddard observes, the company's growth will not come at the expense of its distinctive culture.
"With new employees, we look for fit," she says. "We can teach a person how to design or manage a project, but we can't teach personality or character." In fact, Goddard says, "we would rather leave a position open than hire the wrong person."
Binnie's search for individuals who fit into the firm's culture extends to university co-op programs. Every year the firm hires a small number of students for a work term while they complete their undergraduate degrees. And even these students receive the support of an experienced mentor in the company.
Paul Docherty, for example, learned from his mentors at Binnie about the intricacies of civil engineering as a co-op student at the University of British Columbia, and was surprised to discover that he had a passion for design. Since he joined the company full-time in 2015, Docherty has pursued his passion, working with municipal-government clients on local road rehabilitation, major road network upgrades, subdivisions and various other infrastructure projects while he pursues his professional engineering designation.
Since these projects involve complex design challenges, Docherty frequently turns to his mentors for advice and support.
"In designing projects we bring together stakeholders from government and private contractors, and we have to make sure we're fair to all parties," he says. "In tough situations, I can talk with my mentor, who can help me to handle all the information and all the different people involved."
As Docherty points out, mentoring at Binnie extends beyond immediate work-related issues. "We talk about everything from transferable skills and qualifications to tough situations involving design, communications and project management."
As one of 35 employee-owners of Binnie, Sharon Goddard appreciates the importance of strong mentoring relationships in supporting her firm's expansion.
"Younger people today have a much broader scope," she says. "They concern themselves much more with the quality of their job, and we need to keep pace. If we look after our people, they'll look after our clients."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why R.F. Binnie & Associates Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2018):
- R.F. Binnie & Associates manages an Engineer-in-Training program to support the career advancement of its employees and facilitate professional accreditation -- the program includes mentoring, in-house training, and reimbursement for APEGBC membership dues and examination costs
- R.F. Binnie & Associates' Young Professionals Committee organizes professional development opportunities and social events such as mentoring relationships, career development and networking opportunities, participation in current industry events, and volunteer and fundraising activities -- the committee also acts as a liaison with human resources and senior management on suggestions to improve the organization
- R.F. Binnie & Associates organizes Fireside Chats to enable young professionals to interact directly with senior management and learn about the business and industry in an informal setting
As Binnie grows, so do its employees
If people ask what R.F. Binnie & Associates Ltd. does, Sharon Goddard, the company's Knowledge Leader & Senior Project Manager, sometimes says that Binnie helps to keep the traffic flowing smoothly in Vancouver.
While she says it with a smile, her description is not inaccurate. "We're the people who put the lines on the road in the right place and who make sure the water that comes out of your tap is clean," she says. "If we do our job, you don't have to think about it."
Founded in 1969, Binnie works with developers, municipalities and other private and public-sector clients, providing infrastructure engineering and related services in everything from landscape architecture and transportation engineering to the development of parks, sports and recreation facilities and sanitary sewer systems throughout Western Canada.
With a reputation for high standards in civil engineering, surveying and project management, Binnie employs 200 full- and part-time staff across six offices in B.C. and Alberta, and a few of those employees, like Ava Li, really do make sure that stoplights keep traffic moving smoothly.
As a Traffic Engineer in Binnie's Traffic Services Division, Li works with developers and municipalities to study and recommend approaches to parking, traffic flows and signal timing in new and expanding communities.
Li graduated in 2015 from the University of British Columbia with Bachelor of Applied Science in Civil Engineering. A former classmate told her about an opening at Binnie and suggested that she apply to the company for a position.
After learning more about the company's culture and work environment, she joined Binnie about a year later.
"We're a small division within the company, so it wasn't hard to integrate myself into the group," says Li, who is currently training for her professional engineering designation.
Li's integration has extended far beyond her division. This year her workmates elected her to be co-ordinator of Binnie's Young Professionals Committee (YPC). With two other elected employees, the YPC supports Binnie's growing staff of engineers and others with less than 10 years of experience at the company.
"We try to come up with ideas like monthly socials, so people can catch up with what others are doing, and professional development seminars and conferences, where we can meet with senior staff. We also just have fun," she adds.
In addition to activities organized by the YPC, Binnie also provides a structured mentoring program and educational allowances that encourage employees to take courses and seminars to further their career development.
As Binnie expands, it goes to great lengths to find employees who will grow with the company, but it's not an easy task. "If we see someone we want," says Sharon Goddard, "we'll hire the person even if we have no immediate position open. Occasionally we've had to choose between candidate A and candidate B, and we haven't been able to make the choice, so we've hired both of them. With exceptional results," she adds.
For Li, obtaining her licence as a professional engineer is her primary focus. But once a month, she meets with her staff manager to discuss her future options at the company.
"In our division, it's easy to wear many hats," she says. "You can be the engineer of record, the project engineer, the report writer. My manager will assign me to work in one area or another just to let me get a taste for it, but I'm still trying to figure out which I like more."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 12, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why R.F. Binnie & Associates Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2018):
- R.F. Binnie & Associates is an employee-owned and managed engineering firm that continues to grow, recently opening a new office in Calgary and increasing its full-time workforce by approximately 20% -- additionally, the firm lets everyone share in its success with profit-sharing
- R.F. Binnie & Associates invests in ongoing employee education with generous tuition subsidies for job-related courses, up to $5,000 per year