Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2021) and Manitoba's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 12, 2020)
Here are some of the reasons why Canada Life Assurance Company, The was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2021) and Manitoba's Top Employers (2021):
- Canada Life encourages ongoing employee development through online and in-house training programs, subsidies for professional accreditation and tuition subsidies for courses both related and not directly related to their current position (up to $2,000 annually)
- Canada Life manages longstanding programs to help employees balance their working and personal lives with full suite of flexible work options, from flexible hours to working from home -- proving very helpful over the past year
- As part of their health benefits plan, Canada Life encourages a holistic approach to employee well-being through a wellness spending account (to $400 annually) as well as offering a mental health practitioner benefit (to $5,000)
Flexibility and empathy are key at Canada Life
Stephanie Halligan wasn’t surprised when The Canada Life Assurance Company told its employees to work from home to help flatten the COVID-19 curve.
“I believe Canada Life looks out for their employees, and our leaders really embrace the company’s purpose of improving the financial, physical and mental well-being of all Canadians. I wasn’t surprised that they wanted to keep us safe,” she says.
One of the company’s program managers in its Community Relations department in Winnipeg, Halligan made the transition quickly and with little inconvenience, she says. As an employee with teammates from across Canada, and a student in an online MBA program, she was familiar with the technology and process of communicating remotely.
“I already felt like an expert in Microsoft Teams,” she says.
From her home office, which she set up with the help of financial support from the company, she continued to manage its community investment strategy, evaluate proposals and make grant recommendations for projects in Canada’s western and Atlantic provinces.
“I feel safe,” she says, “and that’s the way you want it.”
For a company in the financial services and insurance business for more than 170 years, it’s natural that health and safety are deep values at Canada Life. From its offices across the country, it now provides insurance products and financial services to approximately one in three Canadians.
“When the pandemic struck, we were clear that the safety of our employees was our number one priority,” says Jeff Macoun, president & chief operating officer, Canada. “We wanted to do all we could to support them.”
“Ninety-five per cent of our nearly 11,000 employees began working remotely in March and about eighty to eighty-five per cent continue to do so today. If you would have told me a year ago that we’d transition to working from home in a matter of weeks, I wouldn’t have believed you. But we did it.”
In addition to providing employees with financial support to help set up their home workstations, the company has introduced other new measures as well.
“Physical and mental health are linked,” says Macoun, noting that the company is proud to have compressed 12 months of health benefits into an interim six-month plan to support employees. This allows for access to an additional $5,000 in mental health coverage.
“And we communicated like never before, with town halls, weekly meetings and a dedicated internal COVID-19 site,” he explains.
In July, the company also acknowledged its employees’ exceptional efforts by providing two additional paid days off on the Thursday and Friday after Canada Day, giving them a fiveday weekend to rest and recharge after a busy start to the year.
“Our team has risen to the occasion during this challenging time. This has been one of my proudest moments,” says Macoun.
The appreciation is mutual. Halligan is grateful for the support offered to her and her colleagues during the transition to working from home. In fact, she says, the qualities that the company has shown in its response to the pandemic are the same as the ones that she emphasizes in her work. “Flexibility and empathy are critical,” she says.
“I think the company has done a fantastic job,” says Halligan. “Since day one of this pandemic, I’ve felt supported and that our leaders understand what we’re going through. That’s invaluable.”