It's one thing to be friendly with the people with whom you work. It's quite another to actually be friends with your co-workers. The latter is the norm at White Paper, 20-year-old Toronto-based paper company which got into the promotional business just over three years ago.
On this summer Friday, President Michael Shein if off golfing with two of his co-worker buddies, which leaves VP of Operations Rahim Dadani presiding over a casual cold-cuts and beer lunch in the company's kitchen. What's the occasion? "We just really like hanging out together," says Dadani, who talks fondly about the recent social events the company has had for its 30-plus employees. There was the holiday party in December where the music got so loud the police were called. There was the Christmas Eve breakfast where employees' kids were invited in to eat homemade pancakes cooked by Debbie Gray, the company's "mom" in charge of payroll and human resources. And then there have been the random weddings, birthday parties, and other milestone parties that employees have invited one another to over the years.
"When we celebrate each other's personal events with one another, it's natural that we're also each other's strategic partners," says Dadani, who joined White Paper six years ago, even though he vowed at the start just to stay for two.
Case in point: Cody, who works in the shipping and receiving department, was originally hired as an intern in the shipping and receiving department. But as his co-workers got to know him on a more personal level, Dadani says, they realized he had all kinds of ideas to improve the company's shipping procedures. Now, he's a regular employee as also takes on the role of ‘chief rodent killer,' among others.
Executive assistant Cherri Young also wears multiple hats at White Paper. When she's not coordinating orders, she's counseling employees about their personal lives on the plush couch that is in her office. "I'm known for the ‘tough love' approach," she says. "I tell people when it's time to snap out of it and move on with their lives."
Add to the personal approach special perks like flexible hours and three days off a year for volunteer work, and it's easy to say why the average tenure at White Paper is 11 years. Simply put, "happy employees stimulate growth and gross profit, and we like those things," Dadani says.