A few years ago, one of Transit’s best sales reps nervously approached the company’s CEO, Stéphan Guay, about a potential career transition. His goal was to join the armed forces, and to fulfill the application requirements for his dream job, he would have to reduce his hours at the auto parts manufacturer and distributor for half a year—and then, assuming he got the new job, leave the company altogether.
Some employers would have fired him on the spot, but not Guay. “I told him I’ll do whatever he needs to support him, and if it doesn’t work out, he’s always welcome back,” he says. “He got the job he wanted. I ran into him a couple of years later, and he gave me a hug and told me that the flexibility we offered played a crucial role in letting him achieve his dream. For me, that was so much more important than just hitting our sales numbers in a given month.”
Sure, it’s borderline cliché to claim you put people over profit, but for Guay, it’s a concrete management strategy that helps Transit stay competitive. People-friendly policies have given the firm an edge when it comes to hiring and retaining labour in an ultra-competitive market; meanwhile, Transit’s high employee satisfaction rate and relatively low turnover keeps the company’s clients (mostly auto parts retailers) loyal and content. Guay chalks much of the firm’s 99.8% order accuracy and consistently gracious customer service to its happy, committed workforce.
Flexible scheduling is one of the major ways Transit does right by its employees—but crucially, that doesn’t just apply to office workers. There are no bells tolling for breaks in these warehouses. Schedules are managed with an app, and warehouse employees tell Transit when they’re available to work in a given week—not the other way around. It’s a tradeoff when it comes to predictability, but it’s also made workers more likely to stay on. “Sometimes there’s a divide between office and warehouse workers in a company like ours, but I’ve never accepted that,” Guay says. “The lunch room is for everybody, and parties are for everybody—not to mention schedule flexibility. We are one team, not two, and everyone deserves the same respect.”
Other perks available for all Transit’s employees include a free car wash, on site barista, regular celebrations (think fireworks and bouncy castles for employees’ kids), and a heavily discounted auto shop where all parts are available at cost. “It costs the company money, but our employees save hundreds of dollars on repairs, so I think it’s well worth it,” he says.
If that wasn’t enough, Guay even spends a few hours each month reviewing his 135 employees’ immediate family trees—that way, he can ask about their relations by name. “New employees are sometimes surprised that I know their children’s names, but I mean it when I say Transit is a family environment,” he says. “We spend a third of our life at work. Great numbers are nice, but the environment has to be positive, or what’s it all for?”