Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2022) and Montreal's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 11, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Pomerleau Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2022) and Montreal's Top Employers (2021):
- Pomerleau developed a new ergonomic policy that provides employees with the funds needed to set up a comfortable office at home, along with 24/7 telehealth access as part of their health benefits, a well-being committee to ensure that mental and physical health is a priority -- and the firm donated over $600,000 to local community organizations helping address the impacts of the pandemic and lockdowns on vulnerable populations
- Pomerleau helps employees plan for the future with retirement planning assistance services along with a defined contribution pension plan and matching RSP contributions -- the company implemented a work-share wage reduction program to minimize layoffs at the beginning of the pandemic and followed up by reimbursing all salaries when employees returned to work in the autumn
- Pomerleau provides training and development opportunities for individuals at various stages of their career, from in-house training and career planning services for experienced employees, to paid internships in a variety of disciplines for students and recent graduates
Pomerleau builds innovation into all its projects
When she interviewed in 2020 for a senior position with Pomerleau, Isabel Pouliot was intrigued that the construction company includes “love” as one of its values.
“In joining the company, I saw that the values we have are not just posters on the walls,” says Pouliot, now executive vice president – talent, culture and leadership. “They are really part of the culture. We are a big company with many employees, but there really is a family connection and you can feel that.”
Pouliot says this atmosphere fosters one of Pomerleau’s other key values – innovation. “We don't have a top-down culture. People feel encouraged to propose ideas and we are constantly challenging ourselves to improve. At Pomerleau, innovation is powered by our people.”
Saint-Georges, Que.-based Pomerleau is one of the largest general contractors in Canada, carrying out projects in the institutional, industrial, residential and commercial sectors, with more than 4,000 employees, nearly 200 active worksites and nine regional offices.
Earlier this year, Pomerleau announced a partnership with Factry in Montréal to open its aXLab. At the facility, researchers will test and develop technologies and creatively solve problems facing the industry. PX3, the company’s training centre, is the only one of its kind in Canada. At the centre, or virtually, employees learn to master new skills, processes and tools.
It was this approach to innovation that attracted Raquelle Ouimet to Pomerleau. “The construction industry is evolving very quickly,” says Ouimet, a civil engineer who is a project coordinator on two Pomerleau projects on Vancouver Island. “It feels like every week, there are new technologies coming out. So, it was really important for me to find a company that was ahead of the game and forward-thinking in applying new technologies to the construction site.”
Ouimet is also grateful for how the company has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within five days of the March 2020 stayat-home-orders, Pomerleau had established an emergency response plan, which it shared for use by others in the industry. It also developed a telework policy for employees whose function allows it, provided access to a telehealth service and held twice-weekly company-wide update calls.
Pomerleau has also put extra emphasis on supporting employees’ physical and mental health and providing opportunities to connect. After it moved its company-wide activity, known as The Challenge, to a virtual format, employees could earn points for activities such as reading a book or taking a yoga class. In recognition of their participation, Pomerleau donated $600,000 to health care, health research and food support organizations. In a more recent challenge, points went toward the planting of 1,875 trees.
“It was such a positive experience to be encouraged by the company and the people I work with to stay healthy,” Ouimet says. “These activities also brought us closer together and during this challenging time, we got to see our own personal growth, as well as the company growth, as we adapted. I can't imagine a better place to have been working during the pandemic.”
Ouimet says she also appreciates that Pomerleau prioritizes helping each employee reach their professional and personal goals. For example, twice-yearly employee reviews are not only for feedback on work performance, but also to help employees set personal targets.
When Ouimet expressed an interest in improving her networking and negotiation skills, her leadership team set her up with appropriate training sessions. “Your personal growth carries the same weight as professional,” Ouimet says. “It is not only about developing your professional skills but also about learning skills to better yourself as a person, which also helps you enjoy your work more.”
Pomerleau blends old-fashioned values with innovation
When Pomerleau talks about treating staff like family, those aren’t hollow words. Just ask civil and infrastructure engineer Charles-Etienne Bergeron.
In 2009, when he had been with Pomerleau for only two years, he went through a difficult personal situation. “Pomerleau took care of me as if I’d been with the company for 20 years,” says Bergeron. “They did everything to support me.”
Even now that Pomerleau is one of Canada’s top construction companies, operating from coast to coast, that family atmosphere persists, says Bergeron. Pomerleau also offered him the opportunity to grow and develop his career. After working in the Montreal office for nine years, he was relocated to Victoria, where today at 37, he is the project director of a multi-million dollar project.
Francis Pomerleau, the chief executive of talent, culture and leadership, co-owns – with his brother, Pierre – the firm their father started in 1964. As he likes to say, theirs is “the only construction company in the world that identifies love as one of its values.” A case in point: every year the firm sends maple syrup to staff, clients and friends, a tradition that goes back to the company’s origins in Saint-Georges, south of Quebec City, a region known as the “land of the maple.”
“We’re a big construction company and, yes, we work with concrete and steel and heavy machinery,” says Pomerleau, “but it’s much more than that – we’re a family that does fun things together.”
Those fun things include a major physical challenge every few years. Bergeron was among employees who cycled from Ottawa to Halifax in 2010 and four years later, ran from Montreal to New York. Last year, because of COVID-19, the company organized a virtual challenge. In recognition of their employees’ participation, Pomerleau donated $625,000 to 14 charities supporting those affected by COVID-19. Part of that amount included personal donations from the owners.
Another thing Bergeron appreciates is Pomerleau’s focus on innovation. “We’re the leaders in Canada in using building information modelling, a collaborative approach for centralizing, managing, sharing and visualizing project data. And we were the first in the world to have Spot, the robot from Boston Dynamics, on our construction sites taking 360-degree photos, allowing us to see how work is progressing.”
“Our commitment to innovation is very appealing for people joining us,” says Pomerleau. “They feel they are empowered to transform not only the company but the industry as well.”