Ottawa’s top employers in the Scale-Up Program

Jul 28, 2020
7 mins | 1350 words
By: Katie LeClair

“If you’re a great employer, word gets around.” – Caroline Croft, Manager, Scale-Up Program.

The Scale-Up Program was established to help high-potential companies manage rapid growth and, ultimately, scale successfully. Through this program, Invest Ottawa supports product-based technology firms in overcoming three proven challenges to rapid growth and market success: customers, revenue, and talent.

When it comes to customers and talent management, we know that landing loyal customers starts with attracting and retaining loyal employees. The customer experience directly correlates with the employee experience; therefore, building a positive company culture is essential in laying a solid foundation for sustainable commercial success.

The question is how do you assess culture?

We gave firms in the Scale-Up Program a place to start.

Employee Net Promoter Score 

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a widely adopted customer experience metric used to gauge satisfaction with your company’s service or product by measuring customer loyalty. The History of the Net Promoter Score outlines how the question “What is the likelihood that you would recommend Company X to a friend or colleague” came to be the ultimate predictor of customer behaviour – an indicator of future growth.

With the NPS success as a customer service tool came its adaptation for internal use through the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). The eNPS measures employee loyalty through a likelihood-to-recommend question. An eNPS ranges from -100 to 100. To get a score, all participants complete a survey that asks them to select a number from an 11-point scale, 0 – 10. Each respondent is then categorized based on the number they chose.

  • Detractors select between 0 – 6
  • Passives (or neutrals) select 7 or 8
  • Promoters select 9 or 10

A total score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of “detractors” from the percentage of “promoters.”

According to HR Technologist, a good eNPS can range from 10 – 30.

Introducing the eNPS Program

In February, the Scale-Up Program team spearheaded the eNPS Benchmarking Pilot Program with the support of Lynn Stevens, Human Resources Consultant. From onboarding firms and surveying employees to calculating scores and coaching through action plans, they managed the process from start to finish.

Lynn shared her experience working with the program participants, and it was overwhelmingly positive. She confirmed that everyone was engaged in the process, keen to dig into results and eager to look at action plans.

How did our Ottawa-based technology firms do? 

The results were impressive.

An eNPS above 20 is considered strong. The Benchmark eNPS – or the average score of all surveys conducted – was 56. That’s right, 56!

How did this group of scaling companies collectively score so high? 

When asked about what makes their workplaces great, general themes emerged from the survey. Here are a few of the recurring reasons participants listed as to why they would recommend their employer to a friend or family member:

  • Employees are supported and encouraged to push boundaries and try new things.
  • I love my co-workers: My teammates are talented, enthusiastic and hardworking people.
  • The environment is flexible: we have an excellent Work from Home Policy.
  • I work on cutting-edge technology and technically exciting projects.

Overall, these results, and benchmark score, highlight the workplace environments being cultivated in Ottawa’s technology sector.

The standard is high. But what we really want to know is who stands out?

Which companies ranked among the best of the best?

Top employers

Here are the eNPS Benchmarking Pilot Program’s top-ranking employers, listed in alphabetical order:

Crank Software

Crank Software is an embedded graphic user interface (GUI) development and services company – the same company behind Storyboard, a cross-platform, embedded GUI software that creates unmatched touchscreen experiences. This rapidly scaling Ottawa firm has been able to secure a list of clients from budding startups to Fortune 500s, even critically invaluable COVID-19 ventilators. How? Their innovative technology enables businesses to go-to-market up to 50% faster, with high-performance, modern GUIs that exceed customer’s touchscreen expectations.

Crank Software was founded in 2007 by Brian Edmond, Jason Clarke, and Thomas Fletcher. In 2019 the firm was celebrated with the Best Ottawa Business Company of the Year award. By 2020, Crank’s Storyboard was awarded Most Innovative Software at their prestigious industry event, Embedded World.

Why are Crank Software employees so loyal? Speaking to their team, we were able to gain more in-depth insight into how the firm received such a high eNPS.

What it comes down to is the culture they’ve cultivated.



Evidence Partners

Evidence Partners powers evidence-based research. This Ottawa software-as-a-service (SaaS) firm helps leading research organizations – universities, professional associations, pharmaceutical companies, etc. – conduct better, faster systemic reviews.

Founded in 2009 by Peter O’Blenis, Ian Stefanison, and Jonathan Barker, Evidence Partners was born from the idea that innovative technologies could improve healthcare research. Jonathan, Peter and Ian understood the challenges researchers face and recognized how technology could help. So, they built their software business determined to reduce workload and improve review transparency.

Today, Evidence Partners is one of Ottawa’s fastest-growing companies with customers that include the likes of John Hopkins University and the World Health Organization.

The scale-up is showing no signs of slowing down with ambitious growth targets and hiring targets to match; their focus is not only on attracting new customers but attracting and retaining top talent.

The number of Evidence Partners employees has doubled within the last year. What’s most impressive is that the company has been able to build a high-performing and loyal team. How?



Field Effect

Field Effect is a B2B cybersecurity company that prides itself on protecting Canadian companies from cyber threats. They provide advanced, integrated cybersecurity threat detection, incident monitoring, and compliance, in one platform, for SMEs and IT service providers. Their leading-edge tools and services empower businesses of all sizes to build and run resilient networks. For Field Effect, cybersecurity is about getting the basics right – really understanding your network, understanding your threats, and reducing vulnerabilities by knowing where and how to defend against intruders.

Today, their solutions are trusted by organizations worldwide.

Field Effect recruits the best of the best, even while hiring at full speed during the pandemic.

Their formula is a winning one. In a competitive industry, Field Effect has consistently been able to attract and retain experienced cybersecurity leaders. How?



Keep in mind 

The scaling firms who participated in the eNPS Benchmarking Pilot Program are on a path of rapid growth. We expect their teams and operations to continue to expand quickly.  Developing an eNPS benchmark now and consistently measuring that score will be valuable in cultivating the strong company culture they’ve planted.

It’s important to note that:

  • The eNPS Benchmarking Pilot Program launched before the COVID-19 pandemic. We are aware that since then, businesses have faced a new, ever-evolving reality. We can assume it’s impacted their employee experience as well as their company culture, along with leadership’s ability to implement action plans related to eNPS results.
  • Our survey(s) was not ecosystem exhaustive. The data and information collected were from Invest Ottawa eNPS Benchmarking Pilot Program participants only. Other scaling firms in Ottawa who run their own eNPS programs may have scored high as well.
  • As companies increase in size, there is a tendency for the eNPS average to drop – the bigger the company (45 vs 4000), the lower the benchmark score. This reality presents a challenge when comparing industry averages and company averages.

Recommendations for companies 

For organizations, there are so many ways to spend time and resources. How do you know if you’re focusing on what’s valued by your team? Leaders, you need to get feedback straight from the source – your people. Once you have their input, you can invest your effort and dollars in ways that align with your culture and promote your values. This informed investment guarantees that your actions are authentic to your organization.

Authenticity is key.

If you’re exploring ways to build employee loyalty and company culture, conducting an eNPS is a great place to start.

Recommendations for talent

If you are looking to take your career to the next level with a firm that has an outstanding company culture, Crank Software, Evidence Partners, and Field Effect should be the first places you look.

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