Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2022):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 10, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan / HOOPP was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2022):
- HOOPP provided office equipment to help employees set up their home office at the start of the pandemic and offered reimbursements to cover additional expenses ($200 in 2020 and $300 in 2021) -- the company also closed its offices from December 25 to January 1, 2020 to ensure employees could fully disconnect
- HOOPP helps employees prepare for the future with contributions to a defined benefit pension plan and retirement planning assistance -- and offers long-term peace of mind with health benefits that extend to retirees (50 per cent premium coverage, no age limit)
- HOOPP's time-off policy includes three weeks of paid vacation allowance to start (moving to four weeks after only three years on the job) and up to seven paid personal days, which can be used at employees' discretion
HOOPP focuses on maximizing employee well-being
During the pandemic, virtual wellness programs provided by the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) really gave project manager Irina Minski an opportunity to “refresh and recharge,” she says. Minski continued to do yoga, fitness and meditation classes as she had done at the Toronto office before COVID-19. “That really helped me focus on my work.”
It is critically important to HOOPP that its employees thrive, both physically and mentally. The company has many measures to foster their well-being, which was highlighted in its new strategic plan introduced in September. “HOOPP is as successful as it is because of our employees,” says Elena Palumbo-Sergnese, senior vice-president, human resources. “If we don’t have healthy employees, then we won’t have continued success.”
Founded over 60 years ago, Toronto-based HOOPP is a multi-employer, defined-benefit pension plan for the province’s hospital and community-based health-care sector. It serves more than 400,000 members, the majority of them nurses, at more than 610 employers across the province.
Its commitment to the health of its staff has led to a number of improved benefits in recent years. On the mental health side, it has introduced training to help managers recognize when an employee might be having a mental health challenge. In 2018, it increased its benefit for psychological treatment from $1,000 to $2,500 annually.
During the pandemic, HOOPP has also partnered with the online counselling service Inkblot Therapy, which offers a reduced rate for therapy so that staff can stretch the psychology benefit further. “The firm has also brought in expert speakers on mental health,” says Palumbo-Sergnese, “and that’s really about normalizing the conversation and removing the stigma.”
COVID-19 also prompted the company to provide paid sick days to temporary staff. “We didn’t want any employee, if they became sick, to feel they had to return to work before they were fully recovered,” notes Palumbo-Sergnese.
For parental leaves, HOOPP has implemented a “buddy system” so employees can stay connected to work if they wish to. This can help make the transition back easier and less stressful. The level of communication during the leave is entirely up to the employee.
Also, at the end of 2020, HOOPP provided all employees with paid time off between Christmas and New Year’s, as well as two additional days off this past summer to extend long weekends.
For Minski, HOOPP's physical and mental wellness support “became even more vivid after the pandemic kicked in. I was impressed by how quickly HOOPP adapted to remote work and how quickly seminars were offered on how to deal with the new reality, how not to feel isolated and how to overcome stress.”
Overall, says Palumbo-Sergnese, HOOPP employees are galvanized by the firm’s pension promise. “Whether you are an investment management employee, a plan operations employee or in finance, it doesn’t matter – everyone knows exactly why we’re here,” she says. “You can feel it and it’s really special. Especially now, 20 months into the pandemic, being able to support health-care workers who have worked so tirelessly is really gratifying.”