Growth is the name of the game for most b u s i n e s s e s – and Protus seems to be managing it well. For the past few years the company has been adding employees to keep up with business expansion (this year, it was named one of Journal’s Fast
Ottawa Business est Growing Companies) and for three years, has also found a place in the top 10 of the Employees’ Choice Awards.
But growth can be disruptive. Businesses often struggle to integrate new employees into corporate culture, and as headcount increases that culture can change, for better or worse.
So how does Protus manage growth while maintaining its employer-ofchoice status? Company representatives point to the basics as the firm’s stepping stone.
“I think we offer good benefits and compensation that is a little higher than the average in the market, to illustrate our commitment to our customers,” says Janice Vanderburg, human resources director.
Protus also provides social events to help employees unwind – summer barbecues featuring popular themes like “Protus Idol” and volleyball games, for instance. And the company tries to maintain its open-door policy for employeemanager communication, even as the number of workers increases. For example, CEO Joseph Nour holds town-hall meetings and pays close attention to the employees’ needs, says Sue Rutherford, Protus’s marketing and communications director. “I don’t think there’s a single employee that he hasn’t welcomed into the company personally.”
Beyond the basics, the company ties compensation into the culture via its employee referral plan.
“When you’re building a committed workforce, you’re looking for likeminded people,” Ms. Vanderburg says. “We have quite a large contact centre … because one of our business strategies is high-quality customer support. To find that on a customer support team, our referral policy has been very successful. It is a financial payment to an employee who recommends an employee that remains with us.”
Feedback from previous Employees’ Choice surveys told Protus’ managers that they needed to improve company communication, ensuring employees understood how their own workplace motivations aligned with the corporate growth strategy. To that end, the company is installing performance-management software. It helps employees track their own day-to-day goals – whether that includes speaking with a certain number of customers in a day, or introducing a certain number of clients to a new Protus service feature. That helps the staff members match their own goals with those of their departments and company as a whole.
Protus’s workforce seems impressed with how the company handles human resources. “We aren’t treated as just a number, our opinions matter,” read one comment in the firm’s survey. “They take our feedback and try to better themselves with that feedback. They also provide an atmosphere that is fun and professional. It is probably the best place I’ve ever worked.”
For Ms. Vanderburg, success is a three-way street connecting compensation, growth and culture.
“We have a recognition plan to reward good performance monthly, and make new employees feel part of the team more quickly,” she says.