About Us

Linking Happiness and Success to Create a Great Place to Work

Novice Consultants Retreat 2016

After the collection and tallying of responses from people across the branches, Urban Systems has officially made the list as a Great Place to Work for the 12th year in a row. It is a valued achievement, not simply due to the honour of making the list among employers throughout Canada, but more so because Urban’s recognition is based on the results provided by our staff, the people that make the experience of working here so rewarding.

While it is important to recognize our repeated selection, there are two particular areas that stand out as positives for Urban employees – specifically in the areas of Pride and Camaraderie. Urbanites enjoy a sense of belonging, support from our colleagues, and feelings of pride in working here. This is translated to our work in the communities we support, as we build strong relationships and positive development and growth.

Since 2005, we have been honoured to receive the recognition from Great Place to Work. What we value from this opportunity is being able to review our results, acknowledging that we can always do better as a supportive company to ensure employee satisfaction. In the Town Hall events earlier this year, our CEO’s, Martin Bell and Steve Frith, identified the connection between the happiness levels at Urban and our success as a company, and why that link is important for continually improving our work in communities.

Shifting the Old Paradigm

There was a time, not too long ago, when the barometer for personal happiness was working for a successful company, no matter how stressed or overworked an employee may be. There was a perceived link between attainment and happiness – “If I work harder, I will get everything I have ever desired, which will make me happier.”

In recent years, however, there has been a shift in that mindset, and with it, a recognition that if employees are generally happy, that it translates into success for the company where they work. A 2014 report out of the University of Warwick found that when staff are happy in their workplace, there is a 12% increase in productivity – a significant statistic when you make the connection between that increase and how it relates to a company’s bottom line. This is not to say that people have stopped working hard to achieve their goals, but they now do so with greater sense of improving their quality of life and overall well-being as well.

In their presentations, Bell and Frith noted that about 25% of our job success is connected to IQ and ability, whereas concepts like positive attitudes, social support and productive ways to channel stress to meet challenges have a 75% relationship to achievement as an employee. From a business perspective, allowing for that latter percentage leads to greater energy, creativity and intelligence, which of course has a significant impact on the success of a business. In essence, the more positive the working environment is for an employee, the greater the success of that company overall.

2017 Annual General Meeting

Happiness in a Networked Organization

As a networked organization, the approach at Urban Systems is to enable and empower our people to create the kinds of practices they are proud to offer communities large and small. That empowerment involves a certain amount of trust, but it allows consultants, both early and established in their careers, learn where their strength lie, and transfer that confidence to our work with our clients, better establishing their needs, as well as providing a sense of ownership over our projects, rather than simply feeling like a worker bee.

As Urbanites, we also take a humble approach to our work, modestly celebrating our successes and collaborating with our colleagues. We recognize our collective strengths to provide quality service to our clients. That camaraderie, the feeling that our knowledge and skills are valued, has a direct correlation to creating a healthy, happy place to work. It makes us want to discover innovative ways to apply what we know to the services we offer, creates greater value to the communities we work with, and directly impacts overall continued success for Urban.

A Success and an Opportunity

As we continue to implement new ways to support each other both personally and professionally, we take the knowledge of our recognition as a Great Place to Work as both a success and an opportunity to learn. Just as the paradigm has shifted between a successful workplace and happy staff, we should be ready to address changing concepts around positive work environments in the years to come. How we maintain the pride in working at Urban and our feelings of camaraderie, as well as improve in other areas like fairness and credibility, will have an impact on continued, positive growth.

Despite having branches scattered across Western Canada, Urban enjoys a strong community spirit across the organization. It is something apparent not only to our clients but also to new people joining the company, who quickly experience how connected we are in spite of the distances. Visit any office, and you see the effects of a healthy workplace – one where staff are happy, feel supported, and are excited to use their passions and expertise to constantly build on our past successes, and welcome new opportunities.

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