Speed ​​of Light | A free restaurant for happy employees

Montreal-based company Lightspeed is preparing to open a restaurant on the first floor of its Viger station headquarters next month. It will be reserved exclusively for employees who do not have to pay a dime to eat there.

Posted at 5:00 am

Richard Dufour

Richard Dufour
The press

“It won’t be a canteen. But a restaurant. We want the atmosphere to be that of a restaurant. We want to create an environment with a true professional chef’s kitchen,” says JP Chauvet, CEO of Lightspeed.

An unusual initiative here, but common in the tech sector — particularly in California — according to the big boss of the enterprise technology solutions provider.

His wife also works in the technology industry and she gave him this idea. “She came back from a trip to California and told me what she saw,” says JP Chauvet.

As soon as there are difficulties in hiring employees, exceptional conditions must be found. To get there you have to pay the price.

JP Chauvet, CEO of Lightspeed

JP Chauvet explains that most of the hiring at Lightspeed is done through employees telling their friends about Lightspeed. “So the number one obsession is that our employees are happy so they talk about it,” says the CEO.

There are hundreds of openings at Lightspeed this summer. “We need to hire people and the only way to do that is to provide unique experiences. Food is a key element,” stresses JP Chauvet.


PHOTO PHILIPPE BOIVIN, THE PRESS

The restaurant is still under construction at Lightspeed’s Montreal headquarters. The opening is planned for next month.

He explains that when a company has several thousand employees — there are 3,500 at Lightspeed, with about 40% of them in Montreal — attrition can result in the loss of hundreds of employees a year.

The cost of hiring and training a new employee is enormous, he says.

Management is betting that investing in working conditions will reduce turnover, that employees will encourage more people to join the company and that it will therefore cost less to hire new employees.

“I am convinced that a large part of the costs will be offset by reducing turnover. »

He therefore relies on food, the quality of the jobs, a career plan and other benefits such as the opportunity to work from anywhere in the world for two months a year.

“The more people see different environments, the more successful they become. We really encourage them to work abroad two months a year,” says JP Chauvet.

An employee can also take as many vacations as they want with Lightspeed. “You take as many vacations as you want as long as you do your work,” says JP Chauvet.

Focus on incentives

Besides serving hot meals, management intends to use the restaurant to organize themed evenings for employees.

At Lightspeed, employees were already able to eat three meals a day for free in addition to unlimited snacks. In particular, meal boxes are offered in refrigerators on the various floors of the head office. There are also pantries with different brands of cereals, croissants, bread etc.

A smoothie bar and a coffee bar with a barista have also recently been added to the range of services for head office employees. The restaurant will add to the benefits of working in person at Lightspeed. A shop will also be set up next to the restaurant, where products from Lightspeed customers will be offered to employees.

We don’t want to force people to give up remote work to go back to the office. But we want to give them enough incentives to make them want to come back.

JP Chauvet, CEO of Lightspeed

If Lightspeed used the pandemic to renovate and now occupy the six floors of Viger Station, the company could expand its headquarters at the back of the building. “We expect business growth of at least 40% per year for the next three years. It’s going to take a lot of resources,” he says.

“We renovated our offices because we were sure we needed to reconnect with colleagues in the real world,” says the man who took over at the helm of the company from founder Dax Dasilva this winter.

Due to the flexibility offered to employees, management has difficulty quantifying the attendance rate of employees at headquarters today. However, executives argue that the “vast majority” of employees are returning “normally”.

“The moral of the story is that the office must be a destination for people to progressively return to the physical world,” says the Lightspeed boss.

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