Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 3, 2020)
Here are some of the reasons why First Capital REIT was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2021):
- First Capital invests in ongoing employee development with tuition subsidies for job-related courses (up to $3,500) and subsidies for professional accreditation -- and also helps the next generation of talent get a head start with co-op placements and paid internships in human resources, legal, and leasing
- First Capital supports parents-to-be with a subsidy for IVF (up to $10,000 if needed) as well as maternity and parental leave top-up payments, to 80 per cent of salary for up to 12 weeks
- First Capital offers referral bonuses as an incentive for employees to recruit candidates from their personal networks (to $1,500)
First Capital REIT takes care of its neighbours
At First Capital REIT, rolling out a flexible work policy was already on 2020’s to-do list. But within 48 hours of COVID-19 being declared a pandemic, every employee of the Toronto-based mixed-use urban real estate developer was set up for working from home.
“It was pretty amazing, actually, that we were able to marshal the resources and get everybody up and running so quickly,” says Michele Walkau, senior vice-president, brand and culture. “That was a real testament to our IT team.”
And right out of the gate, the company was taking steps to ensure the health and safety not only of its employees but of many of the small businesses that operate in First Capital REIT’s properties. For one thing, the company introduced a small business support program to help tenants in need with rent deferral – prior to the announcement of any federal program.
Starting last April and continuing through the summer, the company also engaged its restaurant and grocery tenants to prepare and deliver meals to support frontline and community service workers. Over the months, that added up to over 1,600 nutritious meals to hospital and mental health workers as well as those in women’s and youth shelters.
For the Canada Day weekend, First Capital gave staff a free vacation day to be “unplugged” – away from the computer and phones – in order to spend time with family and friends and celebrate. And as a way of thanking and supporting both tenants and employees – and as a means of marking its 20th anniversary – the company gave each employee $100 to spend at one of its tenants’ businesses that was closed during the pandemic. “The caveat was they had to take a selfie enjoying this gift,” says Walkau. “It was really appreciated by our staff and it was a nice way to celebrate our 20th.”
Employees have also benefited from a wellness program that the company started as soon as people were working from home. “Each day, they provided a voluntary session: hour-long workshops like Pilates, yoga, sessions about mental health, about finances – basically a lot of educational workshops that you could do each day,” says property manager Caroline Ip. “The company really provided this program to make sure everyone is in a good place mentally.”
And while the traditional summer party didn’t happen, she adds, First Capital REIT threw a virtual party, where for an hour every day for three days employees could attend bingo games or trivia sessions in the hopes of winning a gift card. “It helped all of us stay connected with each other,” says Ip. “We have properties across Canada, so it was great to be see people from everywhere.”
“It was challenging to adjust in the beginning,” adds Walkau. “So it was really important for us to make sure that all of our employees were supported and had a routine.”
Employees are also involved in the company’s just-launched FCR Thriving Neighbourhoods Foundation.
“We want to support charitable initiatives that make a positive impact in the neighbourhoods in which we operate,” Walkau explains. “Employees come up with the ideas and then fundraise; our first focus will be on poverty and food insecurity. It’s about helping to support our neighbourhoods.”
If there’s one thing the experience of the past several months has made clear, it’s that a flexible work policy is nothing to be afraid of. But, Walkau adds, “Although we have been working productively from home over the past few months, being back in the office and seeing people in three dimensions has been wonderful. You can’t beat face to face.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2020):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jun 4, 2020)
Here are some of the reasons why First Capital REIT was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2020):
- Along with in-house and online training initiatives, First Capital encourages its employee to continue their studies with tuition subsidies for courses at outside academic institutions, up to $3,500 annually
- First Capital's flexible health benefits plan includes a health spending account of $750, allowing employees to personalize coverage to suit their needs -- additionally, the company offers wellness seminars on physical, emotional, social, and financial well-being