Recognized as one of Manitoba's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 24, 2020)
Here are some of the reasons why Johnston Group Inc. was selected as one of Manitoba's Top Employers (2021):
- Through the company's health benefits plan, Johnston Group encourages overall employee wellness through a dedicated internal wellness program that focuses on physical and emotional wellness, mental health (plan includes a $2,500 mental health practitioners benefit) and spiritual wellness -- the program was moved online during the pandemic and featured regular online yoga and fitness classes as well as other helpful initiatives
- Johnston Group helped its mostly offsite workforce (95 per cent of employees moved to work from home early in the pandemic) keep in touch through a unique online "television show" called JG Coffee and Friends -- the show was hosted by two charismatic employees who interviewed fellow employees and even local celebrities
- Johnston Group encourages employees to get involved in the community with matching charitable donations and informal paid volunteer days -- and the company reached out to all of the community organizations and agencies they assist during the pandemic to assure their support would continue and increased its support for those agencies in greater need, such as the United Way and the Kids Help Phone
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 5, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Johnston Group Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2021):
- Johnston Group helps employees plan for the longer term through a defined contribution pension plan -- and lets employees share in the company's successes through profit-sharing and year-end bonus programs
- Johnston Group starts new employees with 3.2 weeks of paid vacation (working to a maximum of six weeks) and offers additional paid personal days and company-scheduled days off -- employees may also apply for an unpaid leave of absence, with the duration set on an individual basis
Johnston Group maintains its close-knit culture
As the world responded last year to the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnston Group fielded an increasing number of inquiries to its Winnipeg office from advisers, employers and employees about their benefit coverage.
“People were calling from out of the country to see if they still had coverage,” says Brittany Hart, a customer service rep at the time. “Other people wanted to know if they could make a disability claim.”
As a third-party administrator specializing in group benefit programs, Johnston Group serves more than 30,000 businesses and their employees across Canada. In an average month, the company receives more than 26,000 calls and processes more than 3,000 health and dental claims on a typical day.
As the pandemic accelerated, the days soon became far from typical for Johnston Group’s 287 employees. COVID-19 demanded more of them than ever before, says president Dave Angus, especially after the company sent most of them home.
“It took a lot of resilience,” he says. “They’ve been heroes through this pandemic.”
About 30 per cent of the group’s employees deal directly with customers, while the rest administer programs, process claims, maintain its information technology and deliver other services like marketing and communications.
To work at home, the company provided them with necessary technology and office equipment such as computers, chairs and footrests, “everything we need to make us comfortable,” says Hart, who became a plan administrator at the company in February 2021.
But for a company that thrives on a close-knit, family-oriented environment, a bigger challenge was ensuring the integrity of its culture.
“I’m a member of the social committee,” says Hart. “But how do you remain social in a pandemic?”
With imagination and appropriate technology, Hart and her fellow committee members have kept employees engaged through activities like virtual bingo, escape rooms and even a holiday party with local entertainment.
“Every two weeks we have a TV show, Coffee with Friends,” she adds. “It’s another way to stay in touch.”
The company also sponsors a variety of initiatives such as Mindful Mondays, in which a specialist delivers a series of wellness programs, as well as online yoga sessions. Employees also have access to a digital health platform called Teladoc.
“We’re in a business that focuses on wellness,” says Angus. “We help employers promote wellness among their own employees, so we have to walk the talk.”
Considering the stress of the pandemic on employees, Johnston Group ensures that they remain vigilant about their mental as well as physical health. “We talk about it constantly,” says Angus, “making sure that people are looking after themselves.”
Under more normal circumstances, Johnston Group’s extensive participation in community activities gives Hart a sense of purpose beyond her work.
“Twice a year we spend a day with Habitat for Humanity,” she says. “And we get involved with a lot of activities with the United Way.
“Before I came here, I never had time to do any of these things. I’m looking forward to doing them again. It’s changed my life.”