Environmental Employer Spotlight: WESA Group

Julie Checknita, Employer Services | December-14-11
WESA Group

ECO Canada is excited to spotlight WESA Group, a leading environmental sciences, health, safety and engineering consulting group providing professional services to business, industry, government and other professionals.

The firm was founded in 1976, and has successfully completed thousands of assignments, with a staff of more than 145 highly qualified scientists, engineers, industrial hygienists, environmental auditors, project managers, financial specialists, and support personnel. The company’s continued success is the result of the efforts of these highly dedicated professionals, many of whom have been with the company for over a decade.

ECO Canada caught up with Human Resources Manager, Karen Belaire to learn more about WESA Group and about what makes this organization unique.

How would you describe the company’s corporate culture and values?

WESA attracts more and retains more than our fair share of the best and the brightest staff through practices which reinforce balanced professional and personal lives.  We have developed a broad and very loyal client base.  This is only made possible by a strong commitment of the staff to their clients and the firm that they own and manage.

What makes your company unique from others in the industry?

WESA Group is a professionally diverse organization who has had an inordinately significant impact on its chosen technical fields of endeavor and as a business enterprise. We are a knowledge based business. Our demonstrated consulting success is linked to the identification, attraction, development and retention of the people who hold this knowledge. Our success is made possible through the development of innovative relationships and creating opportunity where opportunity had not been recognized by others previously.

We are characteristically recognized as being a very untraditional group though we operate in traditional business activities such as consulting engineering and for “traditionally” minded clients such as the mining industry. Our history is characterized by solving problems that have been deemed too risky to solve by traditional means. The creation of this untraditional reputation/mystique, while in an understated manner adopting the strengths of traditional business structures, is one of the reasons why we are successful in recruiting and retaining staff.

Our organization is attractive to the motivated individual from any generation, but especially to the individual who is looking for a new challenge (at any age). This includes the brightest emerging minds of all our respective disciplines or those that want to make a contribution in a special way. The business environment that has been developed at WESA during the past 30 years appeals to individuals of principle.

Our non-traditional behavior, however, rests on a carefully maintained foundation of uncompromising business and personal ethics and unyielding interpersonal respect. This respect extends outside of working hours. We are recognized by our staff and competition as not being “slave drivers”.

What type of environment does the company want to create for its employees?  How is this being done?

“WESA’s success comes from our philosophy to “build” not “buy” our employees,” says Roger Woeller, CEO. “In recruiting, we look for bright, young professionals who have the personality and skills to grow within the organization and become part of the WESA family.” WESA employees are offered many opportunities for growth, including training and professional development.

How does your company encourage increased employee engagement, and how does this contribute to the overall performance of your workplace?

The open door policy at WESA is an important tool for keeping communication flowing to ensure that employees at any level are able to voice their opinions and ideas. “I always put myself on the same level as my employees,” says Woeller. “They can walk into my office at any time if they need to talk about any issue, whether personal or professional.”

In WESA’s employee feedback survey, staff commented on the effectiveness of this policy. “I can approach my manager at any time over any issue and he will listen and respond,” said one employee. “There is a high level of comfort at WESA among staff as a result of the open door policy and I am always pleased with the support that is given to me.”

What have been the company’s greatest success stories?

One of the more notable current opportunities is the international work experience available for staff in water and sanitation programs in El Salvador.

This works to provide significant retention incentive for staff who are looking for a new and different challenge within the environmental field. It is viewed by staff as being work for ‘the heart’ and is particularly attractive to the young generations at WESA as well as the more seasoned staff.”