Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2021) and Montreal'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 Danone Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2021) and Montreal's Top Employers (2021):
- Danone Canada supports a dedicated role of a "Feel Good" manager, to support employee wellness initiatives that include in-house and online support initiatives to encourage physical and mental health -- the company recently launched a new "Canadian Coffee Talk" website to help employees connect across the country
- For its non-union employees, Danone Canada offers maternity and parental leave top-up payments for new moms and adoptive parents (to 100 per cent of salary for 26 weeks) and for new dads (to 100 per cent of salary for five weeks)
- In addition to implementing safety measures prior to government responses to the pandemic, Danone Canada provides regular and transparent communications for all employees -- and also checks in regularly through annual in-house surveys and bi-annual engagement surveys conducted by an outside consultant
Danone asks its people, What Do You Think?
When COVID-19 hit, Danone Canada was ready and moved fast to take care of its employees at its head offices in Boucherville, Qué., and Mississauga, Ont., by setting them up to work at home. At the same time, it turned its attention to how best to support its plant and retail employees.
“At the outset, we quickly rallied around what measures to put in place for everyone to be safe,” says Mélanie Lebel, vice president of human resources. “Our priorities were the safety of our employees first, food safety and business continuity. Without the health of our people, we couldn’t continue doing business.”
Caring for its employees aligns perfectly with Danone Canada’s core values. “Even as a fast-growing, top-tier, consumer packaged goods company, we challenge the notion of traditional business that focuses solely on financial returns,” says Lebel. “We also want to do good for our employees, our communities and the environment. I am proud to work for such a humble and purpose-driven company.”
Lebel was attracted to Danone Canada’s reputation for its fastpaced, forward-thinking, socially responsible corporate practices and for treating its employees well. In April, the company launched a 60-minute discussion group called What Do You Think? to take the pulse of its employees as the pandemic continued. Every two weeks, Lebel and company president Dan Magliocco meet virtually with nine different employees to listen to their challenges and suggestions.
“I’m inspired by our people’s collective compassion and commitment,” says Lebel. “When I see them shining, especially during difficult times, or an important project a team has been working on comes to fruition and I see the pride in their eyes, that’s a great day for me.”
Two projects triggered by the pandemic were an internal panel discussion and virtual coffee chats with the theme of Finding Balance, co-led by senior manager of sales strategy Shikha Uppal. “A lot of lines between work and home have become blurred, and we wanted to create a space where people can share how they’ve managed to find their balance,” she says.
Uppal has found better work-life balance by bringing a puppy into her household and spending more time reading. Previously, she took part in the company’s virtual fitness challenge to see which team could record the most fitness hours in a week. “It was great because I’m not very athletic but I’m competitive, so I reached about 10,000 steps a day – I even took meetings while walking!” she says. (Her team came in second.)
Uppal joined Danone Canada in 2016 and has been promoted from a position in the supply chain to business development and, now, sales strategy. “I’ve been fortunate to have had very open and supportive managers and mentors who have recognized that I’m willing to work hard and to grow,” she says. “We’re encouraged to engage in creating the future of the company.”
Uppal is looking forward to participating in an upcoming What Do You Think? discussion. “The leadership team is so accessible, and they really want to know how we’re doing. There’s a real family feel to this company, which keeps me motivated.”