EMPLOYEES' CHOICE AWARDS: Grade A - Realizing the perks of a happy employee

Courtney
Courtney Symons
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Once a week, employees at Grade A get together for a staff meeting. It’s what they refer to as their Weekly Huddle.

Grade A president Mathew Lafrance.

“I’ve been in other organizations where you try that and you’re good for the first couple of months but that’s it,” says Christine Shute, director of finance and professional services.

The company – which just rebranded itself from gradeAtechs.com to Grade A – has been doing it for slightly more than a year, with meetings led by president Mathew Lafrance who often shares the latest technology he’s found online. It’s also a chance to give out kudos to employees who have received positive feedback from a customer.

“It keeps people informed and gives them a better idea of where things are going,” Mr. Lafrance says.

The local IT managed services and support company has found that in order to compete with larger organizations, the focus needs to be on employees just as much as on customers.

“We realize that competitors are going to have better tools, more money, more backing,” Mr. Lafrance says. “But if you want to offer the best customer service, you need happy staff.”

Grade A staff receive perks such as RRSP matching programs and corporate discounts to buy the latest tech toys and gadgets. For IT employees, the latter is often the more valued perk, Mr. Lafrance says.

On Friday evenings, workers log off their computers and play video games together. Often, there are paintball outings where employees get to shoot at their bosses. They go rock climbing, play squash – and they host great parties, Mr. Lafrance says. Last year’s Christmas party went until 2 a.m.

“We had to kick people out,” he says. “I literally had to go and pull the plug on the DJ booth.”

Some events benefit more than just Grade A employees. During the most recent Movember, the office raised around $3,500. To support Canadian Blood Services, employees are granted time off work to donate blood.

At the end of the day, although it benefits employees, it also helps the company, says Mr. Lafrance.

“We know that the best customer service will be driven by a happy employee,” he says.

GRADE A

FOUNDED: 2002

EMPLOYEES: 34

CLIENTS: Salvation Army, not-for-profits, lawyers, accountants, construction and engineering industries.

ECAS: 1

Grade A is one of 10 local recipients of an Employees' Choice Awards.

Organizations: Canadian Blood Services, Salvation Army

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