Creative Roots employees invest in company growth

24-Jun-2010

By Kathy Micheals/Capital News - STAFF REPORTER

Earlier in the year the landscaping company Creative Roots launched its open book business plan, with the hope of retaining employees and enhancing the culture of the workplace. And it worked. The company is approaching the end of the season, and looking back on a year that has seen big returns on the measures it implemented, said owner Ryan Markewich. “We plan together, set goals and shared in the outcomes, good or bad,” he said in explaining the open book marketing process which essentially lets all employees have access to the financial ins and outs of the company. 

All in all, the practice has amounted to heightened employee loyalty and quarterly bonuses higher than ever before. “We’ve had nearly the entire team say they will be back next spring, and everyone has stayed with us through the whole season.” Typically there’s a 50 percent employee return rate from season to season but Creative Roots is expecting to see 90 percent of its staff return for the new year.

“It opens up other avenues for us to do bigger jobs that we couldn’t if we had to retrain. Markewich said having the staff becomes personally invested in both the financial success and the direction of the working year has become the only way he can see operating a business in this time. He says it ensures that everyone is working towards the same goal – the success of the company.

“We have annual high involvement planning meetings,” he said, noting that they work out everything from financial benchmarks, to social events and a cause they will support in the year to come. “The micro management is diminishing, and I don’t need to put my foot in there to keep people motivated.”

Instead of being told what to do and blindly waiting to see if the company turns a profit once the work is done, employees look to a scoreboard that Markewich mounts at the front office and figure out how many hours are necessary to complete the work and make room for a bonus, while maintaining quality. 

He compares the process to a basketball game, noting that players have to ramp up their efforts when they know they are down. In the business world, employees are generally running blind and that doesn’t make any sense to Markewich. “There’s financial literacy training and business education, and they think more like the business owner.” He said, adding that hierarchy doesn’t apply anymore, and everyone operates as a team.

As a team, the staff also chooses a way to give back to the community, and did so with project family room. Ten staff members donated about 20 hours of their time each to ensure that the family who will become the recipient of the new home have a beautiful, fully landscaped yard. While it all sounds well and good to implement a system that ensures employee loyalty, team leader Kelly Lawerance-Robertson explained that a prospective employee also has to be of a certain mind-set as well, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of workplace. “We have to share values,” she explained, adding there were a couple of people who weren’t a good fit, and that was clear from the get go. While they were let go, the majority of the last year’s hires were a match due to an extensive interview process.

So, with the right team working toward and agreed goal, Markewich thinks the year ahead will be even more successful, despite a down turn in the economy. “I think people who don’t use proactive methods and don’t plan will be more affected the those who do,” he said, noting there’s room for more to join his team in the upcoming year.