Creating a Great Place to Work

This week had the great honor of being named a runner-up finalist for Best Employer at Small Business BC’s Successful You Awards. While we’re not one to toot our own horn (really!), the best part of the process was finding out what really makes a great workplace.

As I was putting together our presentation, I thought about all the cool stuff we have in the office and all the fun things we do, but then it came to me. It all begins with the people I work with every day.

So today I’d like to share our recipe (which actually coincides with our company values). Perhaps these are things you already do – but maybe there are a few ideas you can take away for your own small business!

Enjoy the Process

What’s it all matter if you aren’t having fun? Make a decision to start enjoying the process:

  • with your customers (the cliche that people buy from people holds true)
  • with your team (you’ll see an increase in productivity)
  • and in your work (you won’t feel as worn out by the end of the week)

Every day is a chance to express your genius through your work!


People – especially your best people – will leave you if they can’t grow. Are you investing in them? Try:

  • increasing their responsibilities – which indicates your trust and interest in them
  • teaching them or helping them acquire new skills
  • supporting them in their education or personal goals


What about creativity? If you are forgoing new ideas in favor of the same old same old, why would anyone want to work for you? Don’t be afraid to test out those creative sparks. They won’t always work (see “Enjoy the Process”), but they can definitely help inspire your team. A few ways to jump-start the ol’ noggin:

  • break up your routine – why not standing only meetings or a working lunch instead of the boardroom?
  • get away from your desk! Work from home, or a coffee shop – I’ve heard of people going so far as to rent out hotel rooms to find focus and inspiration.
  • new reading – grab a magazine or a book about a topic outside of your industry. Be a sponge.


A recent Gallup poll found that the #1 reason people leave their workplace is because of a lack of appreciation. More than anything, people want to feel valued. At, we do this in a couple ways:

  • Weekly “brags” – where everyone calls out someone else on the team for some great they did that week
  • MVP – at the end of every month, staff put forward nominations for MVP. We then vote anonymously online to determine the winner of the 6-foot trophy! (This might be a challenge in a smaller company, but you can always scale things down)

Make a Difference

No matter what we do for a paycheque, everyone wants to feel like they have an impact on the world. Find a way to lead your team in giving back to the community or your customers by doing some good. At we try to focus on helping entrepreneurs in a few different ways:

  • supporting global entrepreneurs through international microlending organization
  • empowering our employees to support customers like Cynthia Johanson of the Calgary Polar Express
  • hosting an annual food and clothes bag drive for Vancouver’s Downtown East Side

Hopefully you’ll find these suggestions helpful as you build your team and create your own great place to work. Keep in mind, it is an evolving process that won’t happen overnight (at it’s been over 10 years in the making!), but it does pay off in spades!

What do you do to make your workplace a magnet for great people?