The organization’s manager of national total rewards discusses incorporating ESG into the DEI space, its experience reimbursement program and spending time around B.C.’s lakes and mountains

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

A: Since the actions of organizations are deeply intertwined with environmental, social and governance issues, excelling in these areas is necessary for our employees, our clients and our business. Dedicating full organizational energy to ESG priorities has allowed us to look at our policies and programs to ensure ESG is reflected, implemented and adapted within each of these, including our total rewards program. For example, we’re looking at incorporating ESG specific to the diversity, equity and inclusion space and how we can improve our total reward programs using that lens.

Read: 72% of business leaders increased investment in DEI over past year: survey

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

A: Through a variety of programs, we want our employees to prioritize their well-being with the support they need to meet their goals, encourage their personal and professional productivity and enhance their mental and physical health. To ensure our programs meet those priorities, our team regularly reviews the effectiveness of our service offerings and programs. The team also meets with our wellness service providers quarterly to review trends and key performance indicators to determine how best to support our employees’ changing needs. This information is benchmarked against our previous year’s success and our industry peers to ensure continuous improvements. We also provide regular opportunities for our people to share feedback and advice on the improvement and expansion of these programs.

Q: What programs do you consider most successful?

Career crib sheet

October 2016 — Present
Manager, national total rewards, BDO Canada

October 2013 — October 2016
Specialist, national total rewards, BDO Canada

November 2008 — October 2013
National benefits co-ordinator, BDO Canada

July 2005 — November 2008
HR co-ordinator, McKesson Canada

A: Without question, I would say our ‘do what you love’ experience reimbursement program, which we introduced in May 2022. We understand employees are looking for flexible and personalized rewards and this program provides employees with a reimbursement for a personalized experience (or multiple experiences) throughout the year. It gives our employees an opportunity to do something they’ve always wanted to do and take advantage of our personal time off policy to recharge. Experiences have included: travel airfare and accommodations; events such as shows, concerts and sporting events; recreational admissions like zoos, science centres and museums; dining and spa experiences; and cooking and dance classes. It has been a positive and well-received program.

Read: 2023 Group Benefits Providers Report: Prioritizing partnerships, personalization and prevention

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

A: In this new era of ChatGPT and the speed of artificial intelligence solutions, a challenge we might face would be change management and all that encompasses it. Not only the speed of which we can adapt, but also being able to pick out the best solutions for our strategy and our firm.

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

A: Living in B.C., we’re surrounded by lakes and mountains so my top go-to in my free time is heading outside. My family and I love to hike, camp, fish and, any chance we get, we get outside, all year long.

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

A: Our employee assistance program. It isn’t only a great resource to help our people balance life for everyday support like back to school, finding a doctor or event planning, but it also offers dedicated programs for emotional support, legal and financial consultation and health coaching. There’s a catalogue of hundreds of webinar topics from resiliency to managing stress to retirement that can be arranged and facilitated by our provider’s training team. It also offers real-time crisis support for traumatic events that happen in our cities across Canada. It’s just one of those benefits that can help anyone with anything.

Jennifer Paterson is the editor of Benefits Canada and the Canadian Investment Review.