The best advice I ever got: Bonnie Derry

Written by Susanne Ruder
Bonnie Derry

Endymion Holdings Ltd
Vernon, B.C.

Xchange asks Canada’s leading businesswomen to share their most meaningful business lessons. Each issue brings you the advice that has helped shape the lives and companies of these winning businesswomen.

Bonnie Derry is CEO of Endymion Holdings Ltd, a $3-million-a-year publisher of telephone directories. Founded in 1996, the Vernon, B.C.-based firm produces four local directories under the Community Info-Tel Directory name.

BEST ADVICE: “Treat your staff as you’d want to be treated.”

Derry realized the importance of applying this Golden Rule in business years ago when she herself was an employee. Besides being the ethical approach, she says it produces solid business benefits. “It sets the tone. If you really care about the people that work for you, then they care about you. They take ownership of the company, and then they treat customers in a caring way, too.”

Based on this philosophy, Derry offers Endymion employees “flex-time” options. Most of her staff chooses to work extended hours for four days a week. The result? “They’re getting way more done than if they were working five days a week,” says Derry. “Everybody’s happy and the more flexible we are, the more productivity has gone up.”

Other employee-minded perks include: end-of-year bonuses based on company profitability; an atmosphere that encourages staff feedback and ideas; and company parties at least twice a year to celebrate achievements and allow staff get to know each other better.

Derry’s also a proponent of automation to help make employees’ jobs easier. “If they come to me and say we need something, I buy it,” she says. “If a flat-screen computer is going to ease someone’s eyesight, for example, then we upgrade.”

Besides the productivity gains, treating staff well translates into improved customer relations, low turnover and increases the firm’s ability to attract top talent. “We have people that want to come and work here because they’ve heard about just how well we treat employees.”

© 2005 Susanne Ruder

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com