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 Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan / HOOPP was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2021):
- HOOPP supports new parents with maternity and parental leave top-up payments and recently created the Keep in Touch (KIT) buddy program to help keep employees connected throughout the duration of their leave, as well as enable a smooth transition back
- Through HOOPP's time off policy, employees receive three weeks of paid vacation allowance to start, moving to four weeks after only three years on the job, and have up to seven paid personal days which can be scheduled as needed
- HOOPP offers long-term security with contributions to a defined benefit pension plan and retirement planning assistance to help employees prepare for the future
Caring matters at Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan
When Jorge Soto started at Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) in 2011, he had high expectations. He says he was impressed by HOOPP’s clear mission to provide Ontario’s healthcare workers with a financially secure retirement. He also believed a job in a stable field like pensions would offer plenty of opportunity.
“All that has proven true,” says Soto, who as strategic communications manager is in his fifth position at HOOPP. In addition to on-the-job training, he says he’s benefited from HOOPP’s extensive professional development programs. “Each position enabled me to take the next step in my career,” Soto adds.
The moves also enabled him to see firsthand how making a difference in the lives of HOOPP’s more than 380,000 members across Ontario is deeply embedded in the organization’s culture. “We all want to take care of the people who take care of us,” Soto says.
Elena Palumbo-Sergnese, senior vice president, human resources, adds that HOOPP’s pension promise motivates and guides all aspects of the organization. This includes everything from its investment strategy to the friendly and supportive workplace environment that boasts a low annual turnover rate of 1.5 per cent.
“We lead with compassion and a people-first perspective,” says Palumbo-Sergnese. From physical and mental wellness to continuous learning and development, there is a strong focus on supporting employees’ overall well-being. This is also evident from the robust healthcare benefits and wellness programs available to employees, including free fitness and meditation classes.
In March 2020, as the global pandemic became increasingly disruptive in Ontario, HOOPP’s senior leadership wasted no time in deciding to transition all employees to working from home, for their safety. That was on a Thursday. By Monday, everyone at HOOPP was set up to work remotely, thanks to the efforts of the IT department. The near-seamless transition took place just months after it had completed implementing an innovative three-year IT strategy which, among other things, was designed to ensure HOOPP’s operational resiliency and efficiency.
“The experience was quite positive,” says Soto, who, in little over 72 hours, went from interacting face-to-face with others nearly 90 per cent of his time to communicating with them entirely online. The timely pivot to remote work and program delivery meant there was no interruption to HOOPP operations or to the ability to reassure members their pensions remained safe and secure.
Not only that, HOOPP understands how healthcare workers face unique problems in these uncertain times. In order to support them during the ongoing pandemic, HOOPP has been providing them with additional flexibility and access to the information and services they need, when they need them. The feedback has been positive, Soto says, with thousands of members expressing their appreciation.
Palumbo-Sergnese says that the feedback from employees about their new virtual workplace has also been largely positive. HOOPP enhanced and augmented its internal online presence, enabling employees to access a wide range of tools and resources virtually, including learning opportunities and wellness initiatives. And to reinforce its one-team spirit, Palumbo-Sergnese says HOOPP also set up fun activities like virtual lunches and at-home scavenger hunts.
HOOPP also increased the number of sick days available to staff, in case any employee fell ill due to Covid-19. The same benefits were extended to temporary staff as well. Support measures are in place for employees who struggle at home, she says. To ease their concerns, Palumbo-Sergnese says the senior leadership united behind a straightforward message – because the lines between work and home have blurred, employees will have a lot more flexibility to balance their personal and work commitments, while continuing to focus on their well-being through these stressful times.
To Palumbo-Sergnese, that gesture exemplifies the organization’s value system. “Caring about the well-being of others permeates HOOPP’s culture,” she says.