With fewer than some 20 employees in Quebec and Alberta, TST Energy Systems is a company on a human scale. This doesn’t stop it from implementing innovative actions aimed at building employee loyalty—far from it. General Manager Hubert Lavallée shares the various measures taken to promote employee well-being at the company, which specializes in energy efficiency.
What types of actions have you taken in the area of health?
A few years ago, our employees asked us whether they could have paid sick days. We thought about it, and decided that we would rather promote health. So we set up two measures in this regard. First, employees have banked hours to be used for personal matters, such as taking care of their own or their family’s health, going to an appointment, or staying at home if they are too sick to work—all without any salary cuts.
What is the second measure?
This one is more original. It’s based on the principle that if our employees were taking care of their health, we would have fewer problems with sickness, and we would all come out ahead. So we created a fund that we made available to them to participate in a physical activity. They are entitled to $300 a year at their discretion to sign up for a gym, join a sports team or buy equipment for personal activities such as jogging or bicycling.
We hesitated between this solution and discounts off gym memberships, for example, but that would have limited the type of activity, and we wanted to remain fairly flexible.
How does the fund work?
It’s simple—employees tailor it based on their needs. All they have to do is submit supporting documents for their expenses, and we reimburse them. The $300 is valid from September to September and cannot be carried over to the next year, because we wanted to keep everything simple from an administrative point of view. Since implementing this measure, all our employees have reaped its benefits one way or other. Often, people feel like practising a certain activity but don’t because they don’t have the budget or lack something to give them a push. By making this money available to them, we are inciting them to take advantage of it and participate in something.
Do you do anything else to promote employee loyalty?
We are very sensitive to the issue of balancing work and family life. It’s something that I personally discuss with each employee during evaluation interviews. We set up work schedules based on their needs and adapt as required to exceptional circumstances, such as a death in the family. Employees can also telecommute, if they feel well enough to work but not to come into the office.
Plus, for the past two years, we have organized strategic off-site retreats over two days. The latest one was last fall. We took the opportunity to conduct training activities, ask our employees what they thought about the company and the direction they thought it should take, as well as update them on company matters. We want to be transparent about our results and strategy.
How do your measures reflect your corporate strategy?
Social responsibility and sustainable development are an integral part of our culture, which is why we invest in preserving the environment. We encourage recycling, using public transport and carpooling. When we hire new trainees, for instance, we hook them up with other employees living in their area. Because we are a small company, such measures are easy to set up and everything is done quite informally.
Interview by Séverine Dégallaix