TORONTO, April 12, 2019 /CNW/ - Today, the rapidly growing product development firm Connected was announced as one of Canada's Top Small and Medium Employers for 2019. With a focus on private-sector commercial organizations with fewer than 500 employees worldwide, the list ranks employers based on eight key areas: physical workplace; work and social atmosphere; health, financial, and family benefits; vacation and time off; employee communications; performance management; training and skills development; community involvement.
"We are thrilled and honoured to be recognized for the third year in a row as a top SME employer," said Mike Stern, CEO at Connected. "At Connected, we're continually evolving our workplace, development programs, and benefits to ensure that we are attracting, retaining, and developing the most trusted product builders in the industry. This award highlights the deep commitment within our entire team to make Connected better for existing and future employees. I'm extremely grateful that the team takes this responsibility so seriously. This award is for them."
Since its founding in 2014, Connected has doubled in size year over year. In the last 12 months, the company has grown from 126 to 176 employees, an increase of 40%. Connected prides itself in its ability to attract and retain ambitious designers, strategists, engineers, and builders of all kinds. The company maintains a retention rate of 94.5% and hiring just 0.70% of candidates who apply, making Connected harder to get into than Harvard! In the past few months, Connected was recognized as one of LinkedIn's Top 25 Startups in Canada for 2018.
A uniquely integrated product development firm, Connected combines strategy, design, and engineering to build software-powered products that drive impact for their clients. Composed of world-class software engineers, designers, and product and business strategists—internally referred to as "Connectors"—the company leads with a people-first approach. Connectors are united in their values and their shared pursuit of better, and this close-knit group of teachers and learners continues to grow exponentially in order to serve its ever-growing partnerships with some of the world's largest and most respected product companies.
"Since I joined in 2016, we have redefined what it means to be a great place to work by delivering leading HR practices that empower our people's growth, development, and success," said Christina Gjiri, Director of HR at Connected. "We have built a company that both delights our clients and inspires our people to do the best work of their lives. Even with our tremendous growth, we have been able to maintain our values and grow Connected sustainably for the long-term, building a lasting legacy."
In the past year, Connected has been fostering a community of ambitious product builders not only within its workforce but in the Toronto area and abroad. In 2018, Connected moved into a 35,000 sq ft head office in the heart of Toronto's entertainment district. The space was designed for collaboration, creativity, and connecting, allowing Connected to open its doors to the product and tech community in its event space. In the past year alone, Connected hosted ProductTank, Civic Tech, VoiceTech TO, and other meetups as well as the inaugural Elevate Product conference track which was a day-long event hosting hundreds of practitioners and thought leaders.
To attract and retain top talent, the company demonstrates an integrated approach to employee engagement: Connected is 100% self-funded and employee-owned, with each Connector receiving stock options when they join the team. When Connectors are hired, they are assigned to one of six houses (think Harry Potter), each one made up of employees from different disciplines and levels, furthering a sense of belonging with fellow colleagues outside of traditional working relationships. In their houses, employees regularly participate in social challenges such as themed parties, lunches, bowling, and cooking classes.
Connected also embarks on company-wide "Disconnects" where the entire company takes the day off to unplug and engage in fun activities together. At each Disconnect, the company recognizes employees who have embodied company values that quarter, awarding them with one of the Connected Values Awards: Smart, Kind, Reliable, Teacher, Learner. This past quarter, the company spent the afternoon at the ROM solving a murder mystery. We're already planning and looking forward to our keystone Disconnect – our annual trip to Algonquin Park for a weekend of activities, campfires, and bonding in the great outdoors.