eXplorance Inc

June 26, 2018
Two men play pool


At eXplorance, they believe that "being better" is at the heart of progress, and they have a few key strategies for fostering a culture of improvement.



Open office concept promotes camaraderie.
Open office concept promotes camaraderie.

At eXplorance, they believe that improvement is at the heart of progress. That is why they developed Blue®, an all-in-one assessment system that puts “being better” at the forefront. Blue is a powerful, centralized and flexible assessment system that includes applications for course evaluations, surveys and 360-degree feedback.

Using the Learning Experience Management (LEM) framework, eXplorance provides the expertise and technology for organizations to mine their data to develop their own improvement strategies — in areas such as student success, employee engagement and client satisfaction, amongst others. LEM enables organizations to benchmark, assess, analyze, take action and monitor progress.

Just 13 short years ago, with four employees, Samer Saab, an engineering graduate of McGill University, founded eXplorance. Driven by Saab’s unrelenting vision, the pursuit of continuous improvement and the desire to make customers really happy, eXplorance has grown to more than 100 people, with offices in Montreal, Australia, Colombia, and their latest addition, Laval, Quebec. And they are still growing. In fact, the company has experienced close to 300% growth in the last five years alone. Their Peel Street offices will soon inhabit two full floors, with plans to double their staff within 18 months.

Respite from work at the new pool table. Respite from work at the new pool table.

CREATING A WINNING CORPORATE CULTURE

Samer Saab, owner and CEO, is passionate about eXplorance’s continuous improvement culture and the people who make up this organization’s backbone. “We are a family of passionate individuals who are united to serve our clients to help them to succeed,” says Saab.

eXplorance recruits its employees in much the same way as most organizations — universities, job boards and referrals. They search for employees who are smart, vibrant and passionate for improvement. Where they differ is in their approach to developing their employees.

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“We excel in an environment of no fear. We have a no lay-off policy, unless of course a moral, legal or ethical code is broken, as integrity is our number one core value,” says Saab. “If an employee is not achieving his or her potential or is not thriving, it is up to the managers to ensure that the employee has all he or she needs to succeed — and that includes finding a position more tailored to the skills and passions of the employee.”

A few years back, an employee sat down with Saab to tender his resignation. He explained that he felt that his performance was not up to par. Saab listened to his concerns and sent him back to his desk. His fit with the company was far more important than his weaknesses. The employee was provided with the support he needed to thrive. Today, he is among his most engaged and valuable employees, a true ambassador and mentor to his peers.

“We are a freewill concept company,” he continues, “No one has authority here. People make their hours, choose their vacations, and are free to proceed as they require as long as they contribute to the collective goals being met.”

Beyond the obvious benefits such as RRSP matching, medical plans and competitive remuneration, employees benefit from a gym membership for themselves and their spouses, reimbursed bus passes and Bixi bikes (a bike sharing service), as well as the encouragement and support for employees to give back to the community. Charitable donations are also matched and occasionally the company commits to certain organizations and employees are invited to lend a helping hand.

Focusing on the family behind the team member is also a key engagement strategy. There are Family Day events, a Hero recognition program mainly nominated by peers with awards that always include the family, such as multiple movie passes or a family pass to a local attraction, and a slew of other family driven activities.

No kind gesture goes unrecognized at eXplorance.
The result? Less than 4% employee turnover and 96%
customer retention rate.

Additionally, the company backs any type of personal improvement. Employees choosing to continue their education receive fully funded tuition. Others who choose to take on a hobby such as cooking or guitar lessons will also get their course fees refunded by eXplorance.

eXplorance does not have a vacation policy. Employees are guaranteed the time off that they want to be with their families. “We have had employees who have needed extended time off for personal reasons and we have encouraged them to take the time they need,” says Saab. “Some employees were so dedicated that they didn’t feel the need to take any time off, so now the entire company closes down twice a year to ensure that everyone takes some well-deserved downtime, without the stress of worrying about what they are missing at the office.”

Yes, nurturing happy employees come from the very top. Saab is the epitome of a peoplecentric boss. He is a big believer in celebrating the company’s success by rewarding employees in a big way. In the last three years, when the corporate targets were met, he built a beautiful employee lounge, with a pool table and ambient lighting found in a high end VIP bar; a game room for employees with pinball machines, race car simulators and even a beer machine!

The next big project is a roof-top getaway that will incorporate a large glass enclosed meeting room that can be opened for fresh air gatherings in the summer and closed for warm get-togethers in the winter; a very exciting addition to the corporate character. Measuring about 12,000 square feet, this rooftop utopia will provide employees with a little bit of heaven to relax and work in a different way, 10 stories above the ground.

Oh, and their Christmas parties? Employees are flown in from around the globe to partake in this annual extravaganza, where employees celebrate their success and their Leadership Award winners walk away with valuable family vacations — indeed, the family supporting the employee is honoured as well. In fact, one of this year’s winners will be leaving shortly for an all-expense paid trip to Disney World in Florida for the entire family. His team unanimously nominated him for the award.

Taking time-out together fosters stronger relationships and a cohesive culture. Taking time-out together fosters stronger relationships and a cohesive culture.

Clients, partners and everyone who positively contributes to the company is invited to this holiday gala. In fact, last year the gym guy was even invited — because he was so helpful in facilitating the gym memberships. No kind gesture goes unrecognized at eXplorance.

The result? Less than 4% employee turnover and 96% customer retention rate.

INDUSTRY RECOGNITION

Being that innovative in their approach to their clients and employees is apt to attract attention. In fact, this mid-sized company has garnered a fair share of attention with respect to their best practices, their employee engagement and their outstanding growth.

For the third consecutive year, eXplorance has achieved placement on the Great Place To Work® Institute’s Best Workplaces in Canada – Medium list. In November 2015, eXplorance was selected by Deloitte as one of Canada’s Fast Fifty — achieving exponential growth and capturing the impressive 35/50 spot.

What’s up ahead? “We are actively working on disruptors to the industry; pushing it to new levels of improvement,” says Saab. “We are continuous improvement: what we are is what we sell.”

PHOTOS: Courtesy of eXplorance Inc

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Isabel Rut
Past Assistant Editor of YW, Isabel Rut is a freelance business writer writing from Montreal, Quebec.

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