Fostering workplace friendships key to engagement at B.C. company

For legal software company Clio, employee engagement is crucial — so much so that it has revamped its five administration roles as employee engagement specialists.

“Ultimately, [engagement] pays dividends,” says Rian Gauvreau, co-founder and chief people officer at Clio.

“I think that people nowadays have a lot of options in terms of where they choose to build their career and grow professionally,” he adds. “Part of what we can do to make sure that the people we’re successful enough in attracting to our business want to stay here and want to grow and develop in their careers is to provide a great employee experience.”

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Clio, headquartered in Burnaby, B.C., puts out an employee engagement survey every six months and made changes after noticing that high engagement levels correlate with having a close friend at work. “We really over-invested in making sure we’ve got really good community space where people can come together,” says Gauvreau.

The company provides a catered lunch every Friday where all staff can get to know each other, regularly brings in pilates and yoga instructors for group classes and encourages employees to grab a beer and hang out after work. The company hopes “they can enjoy each other as much as they enjoy the space,” says Gauvreau.

Clio’s strategies to boost engagement also include more unique benefits like contributing to registered education savings plans for employees’ children.

“As we matured as an organization, we’ve certainly seen more of our staff start to have families,” says Gauvreau.

“We wanted to make it possible for Clio to do something to recognize their contribution and to invest in the future of our staff’s family education,” he adds.

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Clio will contribute $500 to the education savings plan of every child born or adopted while their parent is working for the company once the employee reaches a year of service.

Only about 10 of Clio’s approximately 230 employees have taken advantage of the program so far. That’s partially because the program just launched in December 2016 and because employees tend to be young — the average age is 28 — and many don’t have children yet.

“We’re starting to see the trend [of having children] increase as we hire increasingly senior people,” says Gauvreau.

“I expect over the next year or two, we’ll probably see that increase to a meaningful percentage of the company,” he adds.

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