What does it take to retain top talent


So we woke up this morning as the repeat winner in the Community Engagement category for the 2016 BC Tech Association’s TIA awards. And while the wine was flowing in celebration afterwards, less than 8 hours later it was back to ‘business as usual’… though our Wednesday morning ‘usual’ is hardly that as we start each Wednesdays with an early morning cardio bootcamp for the team at a local fitness club.

In the office, there were some high fives that spread around the room with those who could not make the gala, and a quick passing of the heavy-as-brick trophy from person to person (with a few carrying it aloft like Lord Stanley’s cup). But the celebration quickly abated before our Lefties settled into their daily routines. Everyone had work that needed doing.

As the day progressed, and while the mood remained positive (it almost always is), I started to reflect on the previous night’s gala and the next-day energy of the team. Yes, there were a few guffaws about having to get a bigger (and reinforced) shelf to hold this latest embodiment of success. But honestly, I noticed a distinct almost ho-hum nature to the team today. You see, between the win last night, last year’s win in the same category, our Best Workplace win from a few months ago from Small Business BC, and the Business of the Year award from the Maple Ridge Chamber, we have kind of gotten used to having this winning feeling.

Now, before it sounds too much like I am bragging by citing these accomplishments (and the team’s somewhat laissez faire attitude to this success), I need to qualify this with a very humble… we are so very honoured to be recognized by our Community and our peers with each and every award. And it is hard to brag or be arrogant about this success when we are genuinely shocked each time we hear our name called out (especially given the calibre of the companies we were up against with VictorySquare and Traction on Demand — both excellent and admirable companies).

However, I don’t think our team actually realizes the magnitude of what they just accomplished. They just showed us something incredible, a word that carries a lot of weight around these parts.

A bit more of a background for those unfamiliar with the BC Tech Association and the Community Engagement Award that we were just blessed with:

“Founded in 1994 by the BCTIA, the Technology Impact Awards (TIAs) celebrate the successes of our industry and the companies, people and innovation that continue to put British Columbia on the map….[The Community Engagement] award recognizes a company that embraces corporate social responsibility. By engaging their employees, winners of this award are focused on building a corporate culture that has a positive impact on the community in which they live, work, and play.”

This particular accolade was first introduced in 2010, replacing the Leader in Sustainable Technology category, which was awarded at the gala event for the 10 years prior to that. Past winners (of both awards) include a veritable who’s who of successful BC Technology companies, including: TELUS, IBM, Business Objects (SAP), Sierra Wireless, Global Relay, Traction on Demand, AbeBooks, Westport Innovations, and several other notable names.

But last night, our little experiment in doing the right things right, saw little old LEFT become not just the first back-to-back winner, but also the first two-time winner… something that all those other iconic BC companies never achieved. Incredible indeed.

While I won’t go into detail in this post about what we do that makes our Community Engagement program award winning (though I did post some highlights from our program below), I do need to call attention to one thing that I think makes us special and somewhat unique. You see, our community engagement program is embedded into the very DNA of our team. It is what makes each Lefty do what they do. As a company, we are all aligned to our 10 core values and we are driven to make our mark in the world, a mark that starts by impacting things at home in our province, in our cities, and in our neighbourhoods. This is our Community, and we could not be more proud of it.

Thanks again for the privilege of being the 2016 TIA recipient of the BC Tech Association’s Community Impact award.

Source: http://www.bctia.org/Blog/2016/5/26/Community-Engagement-Left

We are truly honoured.

John, co-founder

The following is an excerpt from our application:

‘Impact Your Community.’ These words are one of the twelve core values that ‘Lefties’ (employees here at Left™) encompass and live by every day. The values were established by our co-founders over many cups of coffee, and are illustrated in chalk art on our kitchen wall, written on cards given out to each other monthly, and ingrained within our company culture.

The other values cover things like making time for family, accepting failure, making money, and being incredible — all of which are hugely important — but making a difference in our community tends to be the one that’s most on the forefront of our daily, monthly, and yearly actions and decisions — both as an organization as a whole, and as individuals.

Since establishment, our founders knew Impact Your Community was a core value that needed to be of utmost importance; however, they didn’t envision it becoming such a passionate employee-led program. Through team work and charitable efforts, Left™ has created an identity which lies within the amazing people who make up the organizational culture. It all started with the choice to relocate our office to Maple Ridge, so Lefties could be closer to their families and provide a better work-life balance; therefore, we built the business around our community: the heart of where we work, live, and play.

Some of the specific things we do as an organization to foster community engagement include encouraging employees to take unlimited paid community days throughout the year to volunteer in any way they chose, as well as quarterly group volunteer projects that we decide on and implement as a team throughout the year. The great thing about our community engagement, is the 101% that’s given by our employees. That extra one percent being the family and loved ones that so often come out to support us. When Left™ sets out on one of our quarterly commitments (with 100% team participation) Lefties often bring along their loved ones to help us help the community as well.

The extrinsic and intrinsic benefits that result from prioritizing our community engagement program are undeniable. Our program fosters team building, motivation, and a sense of purpose and achievement. Additionally, by offering a chance to recharge and de-stress, it encourages mentally and physically healthy employees. We have also noticed a common theme that offering employees these opportunities allow them to achieve personal goals and dreams. Inevitably, Lefties are also discovering new skills and passions along the way as they connect with community members.

But maybe more importantly (or at least just as importantly) we’ve taken impacting our community to another level with our app YO!, which aims to connect people globally who have limited access to fast, cheap, or secure internet connections. We think Impacting Our Community means more than impacting close to home — and we’re striving to impact the global community with our work on a daily basis. We also take pride in having an active role endorsing our community members in other ways — by hosting local entrepreneurs in our office during their early start-up phase, shopping locally, participating in boot camp at our local gym, and encouraging family connections we are instilling the importance of community everywhere we go.

Our focus on engaging with our community, both locally and globally, has shaped who we are as a company, how we make decisions, and the work we do on a daily basis. It allows our Lefties to impact the things they’re passionate about — whether that’s working in schools with their children or volunteering at the SPCA — and feel proud and excited to work within an organization that continues to find ways to impact other areas of the community on both a small and large scale.

John Lyotier