3M Canada’s benefits specialist discusses absence management, the ‘Great Resignation’ and rock painting.

Q: What new programs or initiatives are you looking to implement?

A: We recently launched an absence management platform that serves as a one-stop shop for our leaders to refer employees regarding disability leave and to stay informed on the status of those on leave. It’s a great addition to our wellness program because it gives leaders more insight on how to better support their employees and improve their well-being. It’s a win-win situation since it contributes to boosting our employees’ health and productivity in the long run. We’re also developing a manager discussion guide with respect to having mental-health related check-ins with their team members.

Q: How do you judge the success of a program or initiative?

A: Every year, we develop a set of objectives and metrics to guide our initiatives, based in part on the results of a total health assessment. The annual assessment is voluntary, but we always encourage employees to complete it and earn wellness points. It gives them an individualized report detailing their health risks with advice on how to overcome them and it helps us as we receive the aggregate results to pinpoint the risks and opportunities of our workforce.

Read: 3M Canada nets health, wellness award for long-term focus

Throughout the year, we measure everything — from employee assistance program utilization to disability leave cases — and review the outcomes quarterly, measuring them against our objectives. This allows us to pivot our focus to address the most pressing issues in an appropriate time frame.

Q: What programs do you consider most successful or you’re most proud of?

A: Our Empowering Healthy Living program is our biggest success. The focus of the program is enabling our employees to take positive, preventive action to improve their well-being. It’s flexible in order to address issues that come up unexpectedly so . . . we had the foundation to support our employees without much delay when the coronavirus pandemic hit. And we’re always building on it and improving it to fit employees’ needs.

Career crib sheet

2014 — Present
Benefits specialist, 3M Canada

2004 — 2014
Recruitment and senior talent management analyst, 3M Canada

1999 — 2006
Law clerk, 3M Canada

Q: What top challenges do you face in your role?

A: Since the pandemic, the biggest challenge is the ‘Great Resignation.’ It can lead to increased workloads and ultimately contribute to the growing levels of stress and burnout. It can be challenging to keep people focused on helping themselves and fostering their well-being when they’re so overwhelmed with the volume of tasks on their plate. That’s why we’re launching tools like our absence management platform and the mental-health discussion guide, to help leaders feel supported in managing their workload and overseeing other employees’ workloads.

Q: What key human resources issues do you expect in the coming year?

A: More disability claims due to stressed and burned-out employees with increased workloads because of shortage/turnover of staffing. And really motivating our employees to be proactive and take action before something happens.

Read: Burnout tops list of reasons Canadian employees are considering leaving their jobs: survey

Q: What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?

A: My free time is usually spent with my grand children. But one thing I took up during the pandemic was painting. I enjoy painting rocks with sayings or symbols promoting happy things and, I have to tell you, it’s like meditation. It’s fun and I find it very relaxing. And now I’ve got my grandchildren doing it, too!

Q: What’s your favourite employee benefit and why?

A: Our wellness program is my favourite benefit because it motivates me to continue with my physical health and well-being. I use it all the time for gym memberships and athletic wear. On a whole for our organization, our new EAP site is amazing. It provides challenges, toolkits and relevant articles on a large number of topics.

Sadie Janes is an associate editor at Benefits Canada.