Since Caary Capital Ltd. was founded during the coronavirus pandemic, it had to adapt quickly to the unpredictable hiring market using techniques like flexible working arrangements and an employee stock ownership plan to help attract and retain employees.

“We’re a child of the pandemic so for us it was just a matter of getting used to remote work,” says John MacKinlay, the finance company’s chief executive officer. “You don’t have to have face time to drive productivity, it’s more about the outputs of the organization.”

Due to pandemic restrictions, Caary Capital had no choice but to start off with a flexible workplace, which allows employees to work from home and maintain a healthy work-life balance. The company only asks employees to come to the office if they’re comfortable and if it’s regarding something purpose-led, notes MacKinlay.

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“The feedback we got from [surveys] indicates people are happy to come in when there’s a team meeting, a workshop, etc. But to just come into the office to do what they’d be doing organically at home doesn’t really serve any purpose.”

Because most of Caary Capital’s work is done remotely, it’s made an intentional effort to bring employees together several times a year to keep them engaged. The most recent example was taking employees to a Blue Jays game. The organization also covers employees’ travel for these events.

The company also added an ESOP to strike the right balance with compensation and help with retention, adds MacKinlay. “We launched an all-encompassing ESOP which was exciting for our staff. We’ve made a significant allocation for the ESOP and everyone is included in it. . . . It helps to make everyone feel like an owner of the business.”

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He believes another important consideration when hiring is to look beyond borders. For example, Caary Capital was hiring a chief financial officer about a year ago and it found the perfect candidate. However, that potential employee was based a little further away from the Toronto-based company.

“We were introduced to a candidate who was perfect skill-wise and a [great fit] for the team,” says MacKinlay. “She just happened to live in Johannesburg, South Africa. So we quickly wrapped our heads around the fact that the value of bringing her into the organization outweighed any inconveniences. And it’s worked out so well — she’s been a wonderful addition to our staff.”

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