With a ‘Push’ from the Inclusive Economy Challenge, Ontario B Corp Renews Focus on Financial Services for Employees
With four restaurants that serve “obsessively local” menus, Neighbourhood Group is all about enhancing its community.
The Certified B Corporation based in Guelph, Ontario, partners with local producers — farmers, breweries, wineries and other suppliers — for food and drink that are fresh, sustainable and familiar. By knowing its suppliers, the restaurant group operates a transparent supply chain that’s meaningful for the business and its customers.
Since its start in 1990 with the Wooly Pub, Neighbourhood Group has added four other restaurants — Borealis Grille & Bar with locations in Guelph and Kitchener, Miijidaa Cafe + Bistro, and Park Grocery Deli & Bar — and now has 150 employees total.
The B Corp strives to provide a workplace that values its employees. By offering services to help workers build a stronger financial foundation, Neighbourhood Group relieves a bit of the everyday pressures that can affect on-the-job performance.
Miijidaa Cafe + Bistro guests enjoy local food and drink in the outdoor dining area.
In this Q&A with B the Change, Neighbourhood Group CEO Court Desaultes shares more about the company’s financial services for employees and how its participation in the 2018 Inclusive Economy Challenge inspired new ways of thinking about its operations.
What financial services does Neighbourhood Group offer to employees?
We offer an emergency loan program to staff members at all our locations and direct deposit to most of them. The exception is our newest concept, Park Grocery, due to its small number of employees and the fact that they live nearby. We will likely roll out a direct deposit program at that location as sales grow and we bring on additional team members.
Have these services expanded over time?
They have. Originally we were just providing direct deposit to our team members as we realized that some people were making a special trip to the restaurant/office just to pick up paychecks. We saw direct deposit as a great benefit to everyone, but especially to those who did not own a car and were taking public or alternative transportation — at their own expense — just to pick up a check.
Last year we decided to participate in the Inclusive Economy Challenge (more on that later!), which encouraged us to take another look at the financial services we were providing.
What are the business benefits of offering these financial services to employees?
The most valuable assets to our business are our team members, and we strongly support programs like direct deposit, loans and staff health benefits. We believe that making this investment in them will ultimately help all of us grow stronger. We have observed a reduction in employee turnover and healthier, happier, more engaged team members as a result of our actions.
From a business perspective, this translates into reduced labour costs related to training and greater productivity. Another business benefit is that, as a customer-facing business, having more engaged team members directly translates into better experiences and value for the guests who enjoy our offerings on a day-to-day basis.
How did the Inclusive Economy Challenge help shape and guide the process of adding these financial services?
The Inclusive Economy Challenge served as the catalyst for our renewed focus on providing financial services to employees. As mentioned earlier, we have always had an interest in providing and improving these perks, and the IEC gave us just the “push” we needed! We are huge supporters of value-added activities like the IEC, and one of our favourite parts about it — and by extension, the entire B Corp system of recertification/review — is that these recurring events constantly challenge us to be better.
There are so many opportunities to push the boundaries and grow as a business, and the Inclusive Economy Challenge within the B Corp framework provides the perfect place to do so.