Creating an engaged workforce starts with the hiring process, according to Sean Murphy, the managing principal and CEO of management consulting and systems integration firm A Hundred Answers.
Sean Murphy is the CEO of A Hundred Answers.
By Jacob Serebrin
“We’re pretty choosy with who we hire,” he says, explaining that he looks for people who share the company’s values and are a good match with what he describes as its “open communication style.”
Because of the nature of the firm, Mr. Murphy says it’s not hard to attract top people.
“We give people opportunities to do interesting work,” he says. “We don’t make widgets.”
Having the right people doesn’t only mean a happy workforce, it also leads to satisfied clients, he adds.
“I think because our business is so people-dependent, our engaged, motivated employees are the key to our success in business,” he says.
The company has an open-concept office, with “few closed doors,” notes Mr. Murphy. The office also has collaboration rooms for teams to work together.
“The most important thing is the need for constant communication,” he says. The company has an internal social network to support staff conversations. Every six weeks it holds a “town hall” meeting where staff are filled in on “exactly where we are,” says Mr. Murphy. This transparency gives employees a sense of ownership and leads to new business ideas. Mr. Murphy shares that the company is currently working on three initiatives, including new market entries, that were generated by employees and first discussed during staff meetings.
I trust my teams and my folks because we’ve spend a great deal of time making sure they share our values.
While not all of the employee-generated ideas bear fruit, Mr. Murphy says, “sometimes it works really, really well.”
The company also has “learning days” where it brings in external speakers and where groups of employees make presentations to their colleagues.
The company also takes pride in its employee-led corporate social responsibility program.
Mr. Murphy says when the program started, he split the staff into four teams to brainstorm possible social responsibility programs. Instead of just picking one, the company is moving forward on all four. The company and its staff now support six charities and the firm sponsors a scholarship for aboriginal students at the University of Ottawa.
A Hundred Answers
What they’re doing right:
Strong focus on communication
Supports employee-led social responsibility programs
Employee learning opportunities
“Town hall” meetings where staff can suggest business ideas