speed of light |  A free restaurant for happy employees

speed of light | A free restaurant for happy employees

The Montreal company Lightspeed is preparing to open a restaurant next month on the ground floor of its headquarters at Viger station. It will be reserved exclusively for employees, who will not have to pay a penny to eat there.

Posted at 5:00 am

richard dufour

richard dufour

“It will not be a coffee shop. But a restaurant. We want the atmosphere to be that of a restaurant. We want to create an environment with a true professional chef kitchen,” says JP Chauvet, CEO of Lightspeed.

It’s an unusual move here, but in the tech sector — in California in particular — it’s common, according to the big boss of the business technology solutions provider.

His wife also works in the technology sector, and it was she who gave him this idea. “He was coming back from a trip to California and he told me what he had seen,” 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.

J. P. Chauvet, CEO of Lightspeed

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

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


The restaurant is still under construction at Lightspeed headquarters in Montreal. Its opening is scheduled for next month.

He explains that when a company has a workforce of several thousand employees (there are 3,500 at Lightspeed, of which about 40% are in Montreal), attrition can cause the loss of hundreds of employees a year.

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

Management is betting that investing in working conditions will reduce attrition, 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 are offset by the reduction in attrition. »

For this, it has food, the quality of the work spaces, a career plan and other advantages such as the opportunity to work from anywhere in the world for two months a year.

“The more people see diverse environments, the more successful they will be. 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 job,” says JP Chauvet.

Focus on incentives

In addition to serving hot meals, management intends to use the restaurant to host themed nightly events for employees.

At Lightspeed, employees have already been able to eat three meals a day for free, plus unlimited snacks. The offer of food boxes in refrigerators on the different floors of the headquarters stands out. There are also pantries with various brands of cereals, croissants, bread, etc.

A smoothie bar and a coffee bar with a barista have recently been added to the services offered to staff working at the headquarters. The restaurant will add to the benefits of working face-to-face at Lightspeed. A store will also be set up adjacent to the restaurant where Lightspeed customer products will be offered to employees.

We don’t want to force people to give up telecommuting to go back to work in the office. However, we want to offer them enough incentives to make them want to come back.

J. P. Chauvet, CEO of Lightspeed

If Lightspeed took advantage of the pandemic to renovate and now occupy all six floors of the Viger station, the company could choose to expand its headquarters to the rear of the building. “We expect to achieve business growth of at least 40% per year for the next three years. It will require a lot of resources,” he says.

“We renovated our offices, because we were sure that it would be necessary to reconnect with colleagues in the real world,” says the man who replaced founder Dax Dasilva as head of the company this winter.

Because of the flexibility offered to employees, management says it is currently having difficulty quantifying the employee attendance rate at the head office. However, executives argue that the “vast majority” of employees are back on a “regular” basis.

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

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