This story has been modified to reflect clarifications from the company when it comes to testing and vaccinations, including providing time and financial incentives to allow employees to get vaccinated.
It was a good week for St. Jacobs-based Home Hardware Stores Ltd., which garnered three awards for the way it does business.
The company was named number-one hardware retailer in Leger’s 2021 Ontario WOW study, listed as a top employer on the Forbes list of Canada’s best employers in 2022, as well as being named one of the region’s best by Canada’s Top 100 Employers.
“I think it’s just acknowledgement for all the great work that everybody has done, especially in the last year. It really is quite satisfying to see some of the accolades of all their work,” said Lisa Kyte, director of human resources for Home Hardware.
From its first store in St. Jacobs, Home Hardware now spans the country with more than 1,100 independent business operators. They are known as Canada’s largest independent home improvement retailer with a focus on home improvement needs. They have four banners for operators: Home Hardware, Home Hardware Building Centre, Home Building Centre and Home Furniture.
“It’s a reflection of Home Hardware being very much a community-focused organization. We have a significant history 55 plus years. I believe we’re over 1,100 dealer owners across Canada and each of those dealer-owners are sometimes in very small areas, and they’re from coast to coast and top to bottom. So all the communities we support and our corporate office and our distribution centers are really a key to being connected to the community and we really foster a culture of teamwork and respect, invest in people being able to be themselves at work. That type of a culture really enables us to drive results and support the dealer owners. So, I think there’s many reasons as to why our own team members who have been surveyed have given that positive feedback,” noted Kyte.
Some of the awards are consecutive wins for Home Hardware, they have been named Waterloo’s Top Employer more than half a dozen times now.
“To be recognized in amongst so many large companies in Waterloo, that is an incredible accomplishment and an honour for us, for sure, because I certainly know the many companies that might be included in that rank, and it’s great to know that we’re part of that.”
It’s been business as usual for them for the most part throughout the pandemic, as their stores remained open, transitioning office workers to work at home and adapting to public health guidelines.
“With the pandemic, we certainly had to make some changes and in our corporate side – we have approximately 800 to 900 office team members that typically work in the office and we were able to provide the right technology and platforms and equipment to get each of them to have the ability to work from home. So, we really work closely with different provincial guidelines to ensure that we’re mirroring what we need to do based on pandemic updates and things like that. We’ve been very fortunate to have the ability to get everybody home,” said Kyte.
For more than a year, Home Hardware has offered on-site rapid testing twice a week for asymptomatic team members who have successfully completed a COVID-19 screening form.
“We have a great strong culture here that really I would say all team members have had a very positive attitude and rallied around the processes that are needed to keep COVID out of the workplace and adapting to brand new ways of working, whether you’re here on site or you’re at home.”
Across Canada, Home Hardware employs close to 2,600 people for various jobs in corporate, retail and distribution. Kyte noted that they’ve been expanding and hiring more people on during the pandemic to help with the sales growth from more people staying home and completing home renovations.
“Our workforce has certainly expanded, and we’ve been investing in roles, people and new strategies. The pandemic certainly has brought a different lifestyle to just Canadians in general. And I think they have been, unfortunately, home based and then they have certainly invested in their homes and cottages and things like that. So ultimately, that has certainly been a growth opportunity for Home Hardware, and we’ve grown our workforce.”
She says one of the main reasons employees are giving such good feedback about their employer during the Forbes survey may be due to an overall positive work experience that promotes growth opportunities.
“One of our key initiatives that we focus on and this isn’t just the pandemic, but it certainly has helped us get through this tough time is investing in ourselves, investing in every individual. We’re very focused on internal career mobility, whether that be promotion or cross-functional development across roles. And that happens in both of our distribution centre environments, as well as the office and our corporate roles. So that really creates new opportunities for people and is very rewarding in terms of career satisfaction, growth, and meeting hopefully what they would consider to be their full potential. So, I think that that speaks volumes even during again a tough time and then we have a really big commitment to health and safety.”
A bit of advice for other employers looking to make the list of Top Employers in Canada, Kyte mentioned valuing employees and having a strong communication between staff members creates an ideal work environment for positivity.
“Looking at advice for other organizations is, I mean truly, just listening to your people. Recognizing their achievements, making sure that they have clarity. You just can’t communicate enough to help keep people informed.”