Consulting is a medium sized consulting firm of over 3,000 employees, providing expertise to four key sectors in Canada and some northern US states. In

Consulting is a medium sized consulting firm of over 3,000 employees, providing expertise to four key sectors in Canada and some northern US states. In the 2020 fiscal year, Canuck earned gross revenue of over $480 million and turned its first profit since the 2012 fiscal year. Business Lines Mining – Canuck employs several types of engineers with significant technical and management experience in several types of mines from around the world. These engineers have worked in everything from tunnels to open pits, mining such materials as diamonds, coal, uranium, bauxite, iron, copper, lithium and even rare earth metals in China. These engineers possess expertise in mine safety, structural integrity, ventilation and water systems, emergency preparedness and response, and new mine construction. Construction – The bulk of the revenues (80%) in this business division are generated from consulting services sold to large scale projects, including factories, apartment complexes, and commercial office towers. Most of the remaining services are billed to property developers building new subdivisions of single family homes or townhouses, and Canuck occasionally picks up a restoration project for unique buildings, such as heritage homes or parks. Utilities – Canuck provides consulting services to all types of power plants except nuclear reactors, and has a healthy business providing services to companies distributing electricity via their electrical transmission grids. Lately, Canuck has seen an increase of business related to ‘smart grids,’ where a high degree of grid computerization and wireless smart meters are now impacting the North American market. Canuck also has clients in oil and gas distribution, pipelines, waterworks, sewage treatment, and cable/telephone/wireless networks. Civic – Typically, the business generated here is related to the civic infrastructure of municipalities and cities. New subdivisions, parks, roads, highways, bridges, and other city projects require consulting services for development and auditing. Renovation projects, maintenance, repairs, conversions, and replacements of civic infrastructure also account for a large percentage of the services provided in this division. However, because many city projects have overlap with other business lines, many employees in this business division frequently work with other Canuck employees in the Utilities and Construction business divisions. Markets Canuck has always maintained its headquarters in Toronto, Ontario. The majority of Canuck’s clients also maintain their headquarters in the Greater Toronto Area, so the proximity and access maintain close and cordial relations, even if the cost of the maintaining a headquarters in Toronto is high. Canuck’s headquarters is a multi-purpose complex, consisting of ample office space for corporate support (HR, IT, accounting, etc), state-of-the-art engineering design space (computer stations, drafting tables, large meeting spaces), and stock yards, warehousing, and loading docks for the procurement, inventory, and movement of supplies and materials. Although the headquarters and most of Canuck’s clients are located in Toronto, the vast majority of projects require many engineers and other employees to work off site at the location of the project. Many mining and utilities projects, therefore, spread Canuck employees throughout the Canadian Shield, from Manitoba to Quebec. Typically, these employees are flown in on Sunday night or Monday morning, and return to Toronto on Thursdays to work one final day at headquarters on Friday. Some projects require the employees to stay lengths of time at the project site, but the culture of the company typically does not want people there for longer than 3 weeks, though it does happen on occasion. Canuck was founded in 1951 by Frederick Taylor, who was the father of the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Daniel Taylor. Frederick was a 30 year old construction engineer in the Canadian Armed Forces serving in Europe during the Second World War, and upon returning home, founded a company providing engineering consulting services to Canadian municipalities seeking to build new suburbs for the growing middle class. As Frederick’s new company received contract after contract for civil engineering in Ontario, he began hiring more former soldiers to work for him as engineers, labourers, drafters, and trades people. By 1955, Frederick’s company was facing a decrease in government contracts for civil engineering, and some of his first employees left the company to go work in mines, power plants, and the construction sector. For the next 5 years, Frederick battled to keep the company afloat, but when the recession hit in 1960, many of his former employees had lost their jobs and came back to him looking for projects and jobs. Frederick accepted them back, and in the ensuing two years, was able to build a lean and efficient company that provided engineering consulting to mines, utilities, and municipalities. This critical period in Canuck’s development set the tone for the company’s culture up until today, as evidenced in the resistance to large scale pay increases that could bloat the company’s cost structure. In 1985, the company moved into the construction sector and expanded into the United States. The economic expansion in the US and Canada provided ample dollars to do both at the same time, though a recession in 1988 proved to be very difficult for the firm. The company had contemplated the prospect of layoffs, but decided against it in favour of company-wide wage rollbacks, a hiring freeze, expense account belt tightening, and asked senior employees to consider early retirement. Once all of these measures were complete, Frederick formally stepped down as CEO at the age of 65, blaming himself for what had to be done to survive, even if most employees wanted him to stay on. Daniel formally stepped in as his successor without much protest, since he’d worked at the company since age 16, become an electrical engineer by the time he was 21, worked in every division at Canuck after graduation, and was known, liked, and respected by virtually everyone at the company. Frederick retained full ownership of the company until his death in 2005, and then passed it on in three equal shares to his three children. Daniel’s sisters, Patricia and Jodi, are also well educated and wealthy, and do not involve themselves in the company. They typically use their share of the profits to donate to charity or provide scholarships to students in southern Ontario. When the recession hit in 1988, and lasted through to 1990, Canuck learned to computerize and streamline their operations. They became one of the first companies in their industry to re-engineer business processes using technology and created a very lean and efficient overhead. Once the economy rebounded and the tech sector started to grow, Canuck took full advantage by hiring on many IT professionals and joining them to engineering teams and corporate support leaders in the headquarters. Their revenue growth through the 1990’s was extensive, and provided the company with significant cash reserves to invest in employees, technology, marketing, and research. In 2001, however, the post-September 11th crash hit Canuck’s profits hard and virtually exhausted the company’s cash reserves. However, the leadership of the company was very proud that not a single layoff had to occur at the time. Unfortunately, when a second recession began in 2008 and carried into 2011, it proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. The company simply could not continue their ‘no layoff’ culture, and was forced to initiate a series of layoffs for the first time in the company’s history. The ‘layoff years’ came with considerable pain for the company. While many older employees volunteered to retire early or leave to allow younger employees with families to stay on, their experience and knowledge were the very lifeblood of the company and could not be lost. The layoff processes proved clumsy, however, since the company and the HR department had never done it before, but in as many cases as possible, jobs associated with ‘overhead’ at the company were eliminated. The unfortunate consequence of this, however, was that the office and central service support to the consultants on the front line slowed considerably, and clients became upset by bad service, shoddy invoicing and accounting, and an inability to even contact the company to ask about  acquiring their services. Even paycheques were showing up wrong from employees who had been at the company for over 25 years and had never seen a mistake. Employee morale and engagement plummeted. Survivor syndrome and a cloud of pessimism began to infect the company’s employees. Co-workers who had become friends were suddenly separated by layoffs and surviving workers started to turn on each other. The many stages of layoffs and poor execution had everyone on edge and wondering if they were next. The entire company began to hate the HR department for constantly communicating expectations of no further layoffs, only to turn around shortly thereafter and issue another wave of layoffs. Leaders and managers who had previously walked the halls of headquarters or among the project staff on site at client locations began to dread doing so and stayed in their offices. Even Daniel was seen less in the engineering halls, where he liked to participate in collaboration sessions with drafters and engineers working on new and unique projects and was rarely seen outside of his office. Financials Canuck has gross revenue of over $480 million Canadian for 2020. This follows a downward trend from an all-time high in 2008 of $580 million. Canuck employs over 3,000 people across 16 different occupational groups, and has employees working on-site at projects in 7 Canadian provinces and 12 US states. Canadian clients generate 82% of the company’s revenue, yet this has fallen since 2010 from 98% as business in the US has grown faster than business in Canada, particularly as Canuck started hiring professionals with American or dual citizenship. Employee compensation at the outset does not seem to be much higher than the midpoint of the labour market for most occupational groups at Canuck. In the past, this generated higher turnover rates, and the executives did not approve higher pay scales as it would affect the cost base and the price expectations of current and prospective clients. To compensate for restricted wages, Canuck has tried out a number of options over time that, have now become part of the ‘accepted culture’ and have historically not been questioned by employees or management. Working Conditions Consulting can be a difficult job for a person of any age. As with most big consulting firms, individual consultants or teams are sent to projects in remote locations as needed. Canuck consultants, are on the road Monday to Thursday at client sites, but once the consultant returns home on Thursday or Friday, they are not required to come into the office unless needed for a meeting or special operational demands. The consultants are typically made up of project managers, engineers, engineering technicians, trades and drafters who work out in the field either individually or as part of a consulting team, flying back and forth to remote locations on a weekly basis. Resources spent on hotels, flights, and employee expensing of food and client entertainment, however, are far more generous and flexible than larger consulting firms, just to provide a point of ‘differentiation’ in employment with Canuck. Being on the road, even with generous expense accounts, can also lead to burnout and turnover. Canuck has had to constantly battle turnover and employee disengagement time and again, particularly as many of the consultants working in cold, remote locations in the Canadian north would repeatedly request not to be assigned to projects in those locations again. In one instance, in 2010, a mining project was completed in northern Quebec. There were 7 engineers who worked as part of the consulting team assigned to this project. All of them requested that their next project be closer to their homes in the greater Toronto area. The manager reviewed their request and then assigned all of them to Sudbury, Ontario for their next project, because they could fly out of a Toronto airport. However, this prompted all 7 engineers to tender their resignations immediately and they all left Canuck for good. While this happened over ten years ago this incident has now become part of Canuck’s negative corporate mythology. For employees at headquarters, however, the standard model of a 40 hour work week still applied up until 2011. At this point, pay scales began to fall significantly behind in the labour market and an exodus of professional corporate support staff took place looking for better pay and perks elsewhere in the greater Toronto area. Again, leadership stalled on HR’s request to improve pay scales. Instead, they provided an alternate solution in the form of the 10-month work schedule. The 10 month work schedule has proven especially attractive to many experienced professionals who are looking to work less in their mid to later years, but has also proven attractive to employees in their 30’s and 40’s raising children. To ensure fairness, Canuck allows employees working at the headquarters to structure their entire work hours around 10 months of work per year, if they worked 40 hours per week. Parents enjoy taking 1 to 2 months off in July and August while their children are on vacation, while others flex their entire year around slightly shorter hours per week and then take a couple of weeks off to go on vacation. Employees at headquarters are allowed to flex their 40 hour work week into fewer days, such as working Monday to Thursday, 7am to 5pm. The introduction of this new policy, however, divided the company’s employees into two groups that resented each other. The consultants who were in constant travel saw themselves as ‘road warriors’ who had to rough it out in remote places. They considered the headquarters staff as ‘lazy commuters’ who were able to work less hours and take months of vacation at a time. The headquarters staff saw themselves as ‘innovative and efficient,’ since their reduced time in the office was associated with lower pay than consultants received, yet the reduced hours gave them an incentive to change business processes in order to complete their work quicker and faster, so that they could go home. Headquarter staff saw the consultants (‘road warriors’) as bossy, bitter, and overpaid, even if the consultants were the revenue generators for the entire company. Organizational leaders were largely unaware of this stark divide, and when they did hear about it, dismissed it merely as a few disgruntled employees loudly voicing some perceived inequities. Now, however, this issue has also entrenched itself as part of Canuck’s negative corporate mythology. Further, Canuck is struggling with its image as a male-dominated, paternalistic culture that is falling behind in its efforts to promote and support women into traditional consulting roles, management positions and senior leadership positions. Again, organizational leaders have dismissed these concerns as rumours and continue to see Canuck as a family oriented, ‘everyone is treated equally’, kind of work place. The Ticking Time Bomb On top of the company’s culture and morale problems, the Chief Human Resources Officer recently sounded a few alarms that could potentially devastate the company’s health. A recent Human Resources Management post-graduate student from the School of Business at Georgian College started to pull payroll data and turnover (churn) data from Canuck’s HRIS into excel worksheets. The student’s analysis suggested that there were significant turnover problems and other problematic patterns in the workforce. Unfortunately, this quick analysis was completed only one week before the student’s work term was due to expire, so the HR department needs more research in order to determine what other information the data will support in relation to emerging workforce difficulties. The CEO and the rest of the executive team are interested in what other information and analysis HR can be provided on the company’s workforce. Can anyone me in writing a summary for this information?

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