Brown and Caldwell is recognizing employees’ hard work and resilience over the last two years with a company-wide salary increase.

In July, the engineering consultancy gave employees a five per cent increase on their current salaries. Patti Pederson, the organization’s vice-president of total rewards, says the increase was implemented across the board for everyone actively employed with the company as of June 30, 2022.

The company is also 100 per cent employee-owned. “We have a broad-based [employee share ownership plan], where all employees . . . get a contribution and then for our highest-level, highest-impact employees we often will grant direct shares,” says Pederson.

Being an employee-owned company gives Brown and Caldwell the flexibility in what it can do with its profits, says Pederson, noting the organization has been performing well so there was an opportunity to recognize employees, all of whom contributed to that success, during a time when inflation is hitting a 40-year high and amid a challenging labour market.

Read: Apple, Microsoft boosting employee compensation amid inflation, tight labour market

“There are a lot of companies . . . waiting to see what’s going to happen with the market, but . . . companies that are able to recognize employees and increase salaries [will] have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent. We’ve seen a decrease in our voluntary attrition. People are choosing to stay because the company values [their] contributions and is prioritizing [employee] well-being.”

The coronavirus pandemic is changing candidates’ expectations of the companies where they work, she says, adding Brown and Caldwell has seen incoming talent expect higher salary increases and the organization has taken note. Prior to the five per cent increase, the firm also conducted two market adjustments over a six-month period, which helped it tackle some pay and market progression for its entry- to mid-level staff.

The announcement of the increase prompted hundreds of comments on its intranet from employees expressing gratitude, says Pederson. “The message we’re sending to employees is that we’re putting people first and choosing to reinvest in [them] and that makes us who we are and it’s how we deliver to our clients.”

Read: Compensation a key factor for 88% of employees considering switching jobs: survey

Brown and Caldwell’s focus on employee financial wellness and overall well-being is a part of its employee value proposition, says Kyle Martin, the organization’s vice-president of human resources. “We’re seeing an increase in a lot of applicants this year, as well as in passive candidates being open to conversations . . . with this move. It encapsulates the fact that we’re focused on our people, . . . which results in good business and making a positive impact on our communities and . . . purpose.”

He says Brown and Caldwell is also focused on fostering leadership through technical mentoring and learning on the job. “We invest heavily in leadership . . . on multiple levels to help people understand their capacity to rally folks behind our purpose and make an impact on our communities.”

But it takes a team to get there, notes Martin. “Our goal is to make an impact on the world through our people, clients, environment and communities we serve. Our goal is to have everyone see themselves in the team picture on how to . . . accomplish it.”

Read: Toronto’s Juno College planning to move to 100% employee-ownership model