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Ian Martin is proud to announce that for the second year in a row we have been named one of the Best Workplaces in Canada by The Great Place to Work Institute Inc. Their list “Best Workplaces in Canada”, which was published this morning in the Globe and Mail, is an initiative aimed to recognize organizations that are committed to a positive work environment for their employees and help these organizations create that workplace.

We started participating in the Great Place to Work survey last year to gain insight into how our employees view working at the Ian Martin Group and it was icing on the cake to be named to the list during our first year of involvement.

As part of that process, we invited a team from the Great Place to Work Institute to come in to Ian Martin and share their insight on our results with some members of our management team. One thing that they highlighted was the use of the terms “They” and “Them” when employees were referring to the company in the comments section.  They told us that this can be seen as an indication that employees don’t see themselves as being one with the company.

There were comments such as “They are a values based organization that cares about providing excellent service to their customers.” or “They seem to have a vision to differentiate themselves from their competitors and to achieve a balance of doing the right thing and being profitable”. Even though these comments were positive, a better indication of employees feeling deeply connected and a part of the company would have been if they said “We are a values based organization

So when we got this year’s results, I once again took a close look at the comments section and compared the 2013 and 2014 use of such terms.  The use of the words “We/Us” and I/Me/My were used about the same amount of times in both years.  But when I compared the terms “They/Them” I found a decline of almost 25% year over year which appears to be a good shift in direction and significant to me.

I believe this shift occurred because in the last year we’ve taken significant steps to increase the Ownership Thinking among employees, and help them feel more involved in the strategy, direction and success of Ian Martin. We want each and every person to feel like “we” are all in it together and that any challenges or triumphs will be tackled or celebrated as a team. We’ve been committed over the last year to these 7 ways to get people on board and I believe the 25% improvement is because of that.

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When it came to the actual Trust Index scores in the areas of Credibility, Respect, Fairness, Pride and Camaraderie we scored pretty much exactly the same as last year’s results.  On the last question, which I believe is the truest indicator of where a company stands with its employees, asks “Taking everything into account is The Ian Martin Group a great place to work?” we scored 92 which is one less than our 2013 score of 93. I have to say in my mind this is pretty damn good since the average amongst the 50 Best Workplaces in Canada is 91.

What I find more interesting than the scores, are the comments. But in order to protect the anonymity of the survey we didn’t want to publish comments word for word, so here are some snippets of the feedback that came from our employees:

“Is there anything unique or unusual that makes this a great place to work”

We laugh a lot; we practice Lencioni’s 5 dysfunctions of a Team; great supervisor; awesome leader; closely knit group; you can be exactly who you are; acceptable for me to take risks; aligned values; in this together; CEO very inspiring; innovative, forward thinking; collaborative; focused on B-Corp, Kiva, charitable giving is local and global; not just about bottom line, footprint, legacy, good stewardship; Transparency extremely unusual but very appreciated; senior management cares.

 “If you could change one thing to make it a better place to work”.

More work life balance; shorter work week; more time off; get rid of metrics; lacking in compensation and benefits; alter benefits package; spend more time aligning values to human systems; lose rigid approach to non-mobile workforce; hear more clarity in the “path forward”; more flexible work arrangements; need to clearly differentiate our services from competitors; trust people to do their jobs; more professional development; extra effort in communications; more recognition of do’ers on the front lines; more flexible hours; support volunteer time; scent free environment; more celebrations like pizza lunches; less gossip; increased incentives.

As an employee of the Ian Martin Group I agree with the vast majority of my co-workers that this is a great place to work. Having said that I still think there are areas where we could get some healthy improvements.  Last year we really focused on changing the “them” to “we” and we made some great progress in that area. So I’m sure that as we continue to identify areas for improvement and put our attention towards them, we’ll continue to foster a great workplace at Ian Martin.

Winning the award is amazing and today all our branches across the country will be celebrating with fun team lunches, but what’s really important to us is that every Ian Martin employee loves coming to work. That’s truly the definition of meaningful work.