McMillan & Associates Inc.
Like a number of businesses, Gordon B. McMillan & Associates Inc. has had to streamline its humanresources costs, thanks to this ugly economy. Unlike many organizations, though, staff members still seem impressed with how the company handles employees.
“There is a feeling of community here that I’ve never encountered before,” reads one team member’s comment in this year’s Employees’ Choice Awards survey. “Our owner/managers are involved in everyday operations and make an effort to keep us informed about the company.”
That this is McMillan’s second appearance in the top 10 tells us that the firm is doing something – many things – right, even during tough times. According to Nancy Henry, vice-president of operations, one factor might be that the company made a number of changes based on the feedback received in last year’s survey.
“People were craving more information,” she says. “When you’re going through a tough time and you know that the boss is in front of you, and you can ask questions and get some honest answers, I think it does give the rest of the staff some confidence.”
Sharing information about the business, its customers and its projects became the mantra. McMillan has implemented “show-and-tell” meetings where project teams present their work and discuss the results, helping the entire organization understand what colleagues are doing. The firm also started scheduling weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings for employees and their managers.
“It’s time to talk about anything,” Ms. Henry says. “It can be work. It can be clients. It can be personal life. There’s a pipeline so if you have a good idea and you happen to be a writer, but you have some good HR ideas, you have a way to effect change .... I think the staff feels more engaged, more empowered.”
And company owner Gordon McMillan now holds regular town-hall meetings to connect with the team. “Gord and the senior management are a part of everything that’s going on,” Ms. Henry says. “This makes that aspect even more visible.”
To help ease the burden of cost cuts, McMillan implemented “up days” – days that employees could take off, unpaid, at their discretion. “Nobody was told they had to take a four-day work week,” Ms. Henry says. “It was just the ones that wanted to and could afford it. That worked out really well. It gave flexibility to everyone.”
The company also pays for employee training, giving the staff members the opportunity to match courses with their own personal and professional goals. “This year we’ve really asked people to look at their weakest areas as opposed to just what they’re interested in,” Ms. Henry says. “We’re probably guiding a little more this year than in years gone by because of the social media skill sets people need to know and understand.”
And yes, the company still lets employees bring pets into the office on certain days. “At any one time we can have five or six dogs in here,” Ms. Henry says. “We have a pet committee now, because it was getting to the point where we needed to have some rules.”
“We’re trying to make this as pleasant a place to be, because the work is hard,” she says. “If you get up in the morning and you want to come in to work, how much better does it get than that?”