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Boutique 1861—Happiness as a core value

The company was awarded 2nd prize in Best Management Practices for Psychological Well-Being during the Prix Distinction award ceremony.

Founded in 2009, the company is thriving and now has more than 120 employees, with six brick-and-mortar stores and an online shop.
 
One of the things that sets Boutique 1861 apart in its industry, in addition to its vintage style and its stores’ aesthetic, is undoubtedly its unique and inspiring work environment based on a spirit of solidarity, community spirit and having fun at work.
 
For the company's two founders, Castle Ho and Simon Touzin, the happiness and health of their employees has been a priority from the very beginning. They first took inspiration from the strategic approach to preventing psychological health problems in the workplace, developed by Dr. Jean-Pierre Brun and his team at the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité au travail.
 
In 2017, the company created a “People and Culture” department whose mandate is to maintain and improve the work environment and employee well-being.
 
The first step was to distribute employee surveys and hold individual and team meetings to identify health and wellness risk factors. Concrete action plans were then developed in collaboration with employees to maintain and improve employee wellness.
 
With regard to Best Management Practices for Psychological Well-Being, the actions implemented focused on the following themes: team spirit, recognition and satisfaction, participation in decision-making, training, support and communication.
 
For example, a large community kitchen was created with a cupboard stocked up with healthy foods. Once per week, a catered lunch is served to create a meeting place for employees at the physical stores and e-boutique. Workspaces were also organized to create an open, friendly atmosphere.
 
Monthly events such as theme parties, cocktail hours, the creation of a community garden, cooking classes, outdoor movie nights and group sports activities were also given priority in the action plan.
 
In terms of employee recognition and satisfaction, Boutique 1861 has increased compensation and the group insurance available, and offers 30 or 45-minute paid breaks and a revised salary scale, as well as an Employee of the Month program (which includes gift certificates from Boutique 1861 and personalized photo sessions).
 
The company also decided to abolish its operations hierarchy so that managers from different departments can work directly with the co-founders, which ensures direct and daily participation in the company's decision-making processes.
 
Moreover, the company developed and implemented a structured employee integration program, an individualized coaching program for managers, a leadership development program and an individual development plan for each employee.
 
Healthy lifestyle habits are greatly encouraged and facilitated through a multitude of projects, including insurance coverage for nutrition consultations, weekly yoga classes in the 1861 studio, regular team sports activities, flexible hours, a healthy community kitchen, relaxation areas, a large urban terrace, ergonomic workstation evaluations and even the possibility for employees to bring their pets to work for some animal therapy!
 
What does the employer get out of it?
 
While employee health, well-being and happiness are at the heart of the desire to create a work environment that is both pleasant and appreciated by employees, it is also important to highlight the concrete benefits of such an approach.
 
So what are the benefits that Boutique 1861 sees from all of its hard work? For starters, there is a much lower turnover rate than the retail fashion industry norm, a strong team spirit and a very high capacity to attract new employees. Employees are satisfied with the company's communication practices and feel that they have a part in the decision-making process. Organizational changes are naturally accepted faster and more effectively if employees feel that they get recognition at work.
 
For Boutique 1861's co-founders, the truth is clear: a company is only as healthy as its employees. The Healthy Enterprises Group is pleased to have showcased and recognized the company's leadership in the field!
 
Boutique 1861
3670 St-Laurent
1861.ca

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