Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2018)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 22, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Rocky Mountaineer was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2018):
- Working with other charitable organizations, Rocky Mountaineer manages the unique "Train for Heroes" charitable initiative, hosting local heroes and their families for a special train ride through the Rockies -- past initiatives have included a trip for organ donors, their families and transplant recipients, and a special train ride for volunteers who worked tirelessly through the Fort McMurray wildfires
- Rocky Mountaineer employees can take advantage of their local surroundings with discounted rail passes (including for friends and family) and 3 weeks of starting vacation allowance
- Along with maternity leave top-up payments, Rocky Mountaineer offers New Child Days, 10 days of paid leave for new parents immediately before or after the birth or adoption of a child
At Rocky Mountaineer, it's all about the journey
At Rocky Mountaineer, it's all about the journey -- not just for the passengers on the unique rail tours through the Rocky Mountains but also for the employees. It is the staff, after all, who create the "life-changing experiences" that Rocky Mountaineer is committed to providing its guests.
"Everything we do is to further that purpose," explains Adam Charania, Vice-President of Human Resources. "If we treat our people as our most valuable asset and try to create great moments for our team members, they will in turn create great experiences for our guests and our partners."
Creating memories comes easily to the employees of Rocky Mountaineer. "The people on our team are engaged, passionate and committed to providing this life-changing experience onboard," says Vacation Consultant Helen Crabtree. British-born Crabtree worked "four amazing seasons" onboard, having the opportunity to be part of an experience with visitors from around the world and developing friendships. "We had a tight team, which felt like family," she says.
That has been crucial to Rocky Mountaineer's success. "How we stay as a high-growth company has been around making sure we are one team, making sure we are having fun," says Charania. That means great company events -- from the annual Christmas party at their train station in Vancouver to dodgeball games, yoga and team events.
"I'm proud to work for a company that invests in the people and treats their employees so well," says Crabtree. "Rocky Mountaineer really does consider their people as an imperative. They want us to understand the five-year strategic plan, what part of that plan we are and how we fit in as individuals."
And because Rocky Mountaineer invests in its employees, trains them and provides excellent benefits, it also wants to retain them. In the last couple of years, it has introduced a career development framework, where employees can work with their managers to develop a plan to get where they want to go. "Because we have very distinct types of work in our organization, there's so much diversity and so many opportunities to move," Charania adds. "We promoted or laterally moved approximately 10 per cent of our work force in the last year."
Everything the organization has introduced over the past two years has been the result of listening to its employees, including a new office with more natural light and collaborative spaces. "It's a team effort here," says Charania. "That's the most important part of the journey."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 24, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Rocky Mountaineer was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2017):
- Along with a unique vacation destination work environment for many employees, Rocky Mountaineer offers new employees 3 weeks of vacation, moving to a maximum of 5 weeks for long serving employees
- Rocky Mountaineer encourages employees to save for the future with annual RSP contributions and offers referral bonuses when employees successfully recruit a candidate from their personal network (from $750 to $1,500, depending on the position)
- Rocky Mountaineer supports ongoing employee education with tuition subsidies for job-related courses, subsidies for professional accreditation, in-house training programs and apprenticeship opportunities
At Rocky Mountaineer, all aboard the excitement train
On his first day as a guest service manager at Rocky Mountaineer, Charlie Millar remembers walking into a meeting room for orientation. "Within minutes, I had half of the on-board managers surrounding me, telling me stories, getting me excited, affirming my decision to work there," he says. Their enthusiasm validated a line he had recently heard from a hiring manager: "Working on board the train is the hardest job you'll ever love."
"I couldn't agree more," says Millar, who is now Manager, Service Excellence, for the Vancouver-based tourism company which runs luxury trains through the Pacific Northwest and the Canadian Rockies. "It's the most rewarding job I've had in my life."
That kind of positivity permeates the growing organization, which puts a premium on hiring highly social, outgoing people, especially as on-board hosts. "We're very proud that we've been scored as one of the leading tourism businesses in the world based on people's likelihood to recommend your product to others, and you can't do that without great people," says President Steve Sammut.
"From the frontline and rail operations teams, to the global sales team and head office, everyone has a sense of a shared purpose, and I think that's what makes it such a fine place to work," he says. "It's that idea that you can do something really special, and have a profound impact on someone's life, through the product that we have."
The company has 252 full-time employees globally, including 182 in Canada, but between April and October, when the trains are running, the number swells to nearly 700, as the seasonal teams come aboard. Sammut says about 80 per cent are Rocky Mountaineer veterans who return every year.
For the hosts, who both explain the sights and serve food and drink, each trip is different, as the particular mix of tourists get to know each other and the employees. Some 85 per cent of the guests come from outside Canada, mainly from English-speaking countries, and most hosts have stories of, "if you're ever in Australia, look us up" -- and often stay in touch.
"At the end of my very first trip, I had 50 people forming a conga line to get off the coach in Vancouver," says Millar. "The last person, a little old lady, pinched my cheeks and gave me a kiss, then ran away laughing to herself."
The hosts are not the only ones who get to enjoy the ride -- so do head office staff. "We make sure every employee gets on the train in their first year," says Sammut. "You have to experience the trip to understand our business."
Sammut says the company gets important feedback about the service from staff. One suggested a train check-in service at the hotel, so passengers could avoid line-ups at departure the next morning. The company also holds semi-annual town halls and smaller roundtable conversations with executives. "We promote two-way communication, because it's amazing what you can learn when you listen to your team members," says Sammut.
Employees were also consulted before the company recently moved into its new headquarters in downtown Vancouver. It features floor-to-ceiling windows, sit-stand desks, an onsite gym, a rooftop function area, plenty of collaborative spaces, and a staircase connecting the company's two floors. "It encourages people to walk up and down to see each other," says Sammut. "Some of the best ideas happen in the hallways."
The company believes its people are its greatest asset, explains Human Resources Vice President Adam Charania. "We offer a robust compensation program and attractive policies that support our team in balancing work, life and family commitments."
To Millar, an experienced hospitality professional, Rocky Mountaineer stands out for the way it treats its people. "This is an organization that wants to take care of you, and truly believes in setting its people up for success," he says. "They really focus on the personal and professional growth of their employees."