Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 25, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Western Financial Group Inc. was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2021):
- Western Financial Group offered employees eight additional paid sick days as part of its response to the pandemic and also maintains a Supporting Our Staff fund for employees who have suffered a personal or family crisis
- Western Financial Group's health benefits plan features a mental health practitioner benefit (up to $1,500 per year) and a health spending account, which includes an option to carry forward unused credits to the following year (to a maximum account balance of $1,000)
- Western Financial Group lets employees share in the company's successes through a share purchase plan and supports long-term savings through matching RSP contributions
Western Financial Group enhances life for all
Emily Fisher hasn’t let COVID-19 stop her charitable activities. The Calgary-born insurance broker has worked since 2017 for Western Financial Group, an insurance services company headquartered in High River. For the Western Financial Group Communities Foundation, she is the designated “champion” at her Turner Valley branch.
So, in October 2020, Fisher, 29, donned the blue shirt that signifies participation in Western’s annual five km walk in support of the foundation and led seven other employees along the Friendship Trail from Turner Valley to Black Diamond.
The company-wide event was rescheduled from May due to the pandemic, and employees walked in pairs with appropriate social distancing. “The weather was beautiful, and everybody really needed it after being stuck inside for so long,” says Fisher. Also in October, she organized a local baseball tournament that raised more than $2,600 for the foundation. “It’s an investment in our town and in our kids,” she says. “I love this foundation, and want to be a bigger part of it.”
Since it was created in 2001, the foundation has donated more than $3.6 million in community infrastructure grants; bursaries to graduating high school students who have shown leadership qualities or overcome adversity; and matching grants for local projects.
Despite COVID-19, the foundation continued those core funding programs. It also established a Community Food & Nutrition Emergency Fund, contributing to food banks and nutrition programs in the 180 communities where Western operates. The fund was to provide $75,000 to help supply 225,000 meals.
“We consider ourselves a very community-centric organization,” says Lisa Osachoff, chief people & culture officer. “We take great pride in being part of the communities in which we live and work.”
Western’s guiding principles are truthfulness, fairness, value and loyalty. To treat its commission-based employees fairly, Western initiated a temporary relief program in response to the pandemic: brokers who didn’t have as many customers as usual were cushioned. “We averaged their monthly earnings in 2019 and for those below that level during the early months of COVID-19, we topped them up,” says Osachoff.
The company went ahead with a planned enhancement of employee benefits and the removal of co-pays on those benefits for all employees. Western also introduced COVID-specific training for its managers on how to lead with empathy, how to cope with being short-staffed and leading with fairness, and leading for the mental health of their staff. The training was mandatory for all 274 people leaders, including the executive team.