Kicking Horse Coffee

Engaging Workplaces

BC Business

B.C. employers are setting the bar for employee engagement and healthy places to work
By Valerie McTavish

Judging a workplace based on the calibre and frequency of its staff lunches, the decor of its lounge areas or its liberal policy with video-game time is a bit like picking a college based on the ferocity of frosh week. When the hangover clears, you’ve got real life to deal with.

In real life, when employees feel ineffective and undervalued, like work is taking over their life, or that they’re out of the loop and dread walking through the door every morning, no number of staff barbecues or dog days are going to set things right.

That’s not to say that companies that have what Graham Lowe, author of Creating Healthy Organizations, calls “window dressings” can’t also be fantastic places to work. It’s just that there has to be some substance behind the curtains. The key to telling the really great employers from the imposters, says Lowe, is to look at the motivation behind the perks: are they prescriptions borrowed from a how-to list, or are they the authentic manifestations of a respectful and supportive organization?

A number of B.C. companies are setting the standard, showing us that there’s more to a healthy workplace than shiny paint and chrome finishes. We looked under the hood of dozens of businesses across the province, and consulted with the experts in order to dig beneath the clichés to find out what
really makes a healthy workplace tick.

  • Wellness
  • Professional Development
  • Corporate Culture
  • Safety
  • Leadership and Communication

Kicking Horse Coffee Co. Ltd.
Number of Employees: 50
Location: Invermere

CEO Elana Rosenfeld (below centre) doesn’t like email; she’d much prefer to walk down the hall and talk to her team face-to-face. Those chats could also happen on the chairlift, across a raft or up a trail on one of the two annual staff fun days. The one place staff won’t reach her is at home. “I don’t access my technology at home,” explains Rosenfeld (a habit that telegraphs the company’s commitment to work/life balance).

The company’s production leaders also focus on communication, with a daily meeting followed by a body stretch. Appreciation for good work is shared with internal RAVE awards (Recognizing Actions, Values and Ethics) and Kaisen awards. There is also plenty of connecting over steaming (free) cups of fair-trade coffee. Perhaps the most critical communiqué comes when the phone rings from the top of Panorama Mountain reporting that 30 cm of snow has fallen that day, triggering the automatic Powder Day Rule: fresh tracks trump office time every time. 

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BC Business