Far out Friday: Toronto office championing employee blind dates

by Nicola Middlemiss29 Jan 2016
Office romances may strike fear into the heart of most HR professionals but one Canadian company is tapping into the idea for an entirely different reason.
“I noticed that more and more people just didn't know each other's names anymore, which, for me, I thought that was crazy because I love this really tight-knit community that we built at FreshBooks and I wanted to keep that up,” said support manager, Mary Grace Antonio.
Last year, the eight-year veteran decided to do something about it and launched an employee blind dating program.
“It's really just to get to know people,” Antonio told CBS News, denying there was any romantic inclination to the set-ups.
“There's a lot of talking and a lot of communication going on,” she continued. “Sometimes it's not with everybody and that's what kind of blind dates is about – trying to get people who would never really work with this kind of team to just meet.”
In the program, volunteers are matched up then grouped together for lunch or coffee dates.
“People from all different departments sign up – even execs sign up for these blind dates,” she told the news outlet. “Then I try and mix and match people who wouldn't usually be working together.”
The system means senior execs could be matched up with wet-behind-the-ears recruits.
“We believe culture is strategy and having people connect with folks they don't necessarily work with actually helps build the ties that keep the organisation strong and keeps information and ideas flowing,” explained CEO Mike McDerment.
While Antonio admits some people feel a little awkward, she says the program went down well with employees.
“After the first round, we sent out a survey to see how many people liked it and 100 per cent of people who joined said they liked it,” she said.
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