The firm’s business success obviously plays a major role – Halsall’s Ottawa office had a hand in two of the federal government’s new Gatineau office buildings, as well as Export Development Canada’s new downtown office tower and Algonquin College’s Centre for Construction Excellence, among other high-profile local projects.
But Mr. Celli, the firm’s Ottawa-based regional branch manager, says there is another dimension. It involves equipping employees with a diverse skill set so that someone specializing in, say, the structural engineering side of the business develops experience in capital planning, restoration engineering or green building practices.
“We try to recession-proof (employees) so that if there is a slowdown in one service or another, they can shift some of their attention,” Mr. Celli says.
Halsall employees are assigned a career coach, generally a senior manager whom they may or may not work with on a day-to-day basis. It is the coach’s role to help them guide and shape their own careers by, for example, introducing them to prospective industry mentors or pointing out avenues to obtain new skills, he says.
The company also puts an emphasis on getting new employees off on the right foot by assigning them a “buddy” who shows the fresh hire how to fill out a timesheet and where to find supplies around the office.
Learning basic corporate culture is especially important at Halsall, where many employees are recent graduates.
“We’ve doubled, then tripled, in size over the years by growing organically,” says Mr. Celli.
“We haven’t gone out and hired someone with 15 or 20 years’ experience – although we do have some of those people. The bulk of our people have come from school and we’ve grown them through the company.”
In highlighting why Halsall deserves an Employees’ Choice Award, the company’s staff also mentioned the firm’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
Halsall’s Gladstone Avenue office is certified to a LEED Platinum standard, the highest possible ranking. Monthly challenges encourage employees to make an individual contribution by practising small actions such as carpooling, unplugging unused electronics or editing documents digitally rather than on paper.
Using alternative forms of transportation is made easier by providing bike lockers, a shower room, a company vehicle for use during business hours and free bus passes.
As a result, roughly one-quarter of Halsall’s employees this summer routinely left their car at home.
FOUNDED: 1956 in Toronto; 1964 in Ottawa
CLIENTS: EllisDon, Algonquin College, City of Ottawa, federal government.