Citigroup Inc.’s director and country human resources officer discusses encouraging employee self-care, making CANnections and cooking for friends and family.

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

A: Our need to focus on employee well-being has emerged as our leading issue. Remote work, longer hours, blurring of lines between home and work, juggling of childcare and elder care responsibilities while meeting work deadlines — all of these factors have contributed to increased stress levels among our employees. This is my — and my team’s — primary focus as we continually evolve our programs to meet this need.

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

A: At the beginning of 2021, we rolled out new programs designed for the future of work. These include our 12-week paid sabbatical program, which allows eligible employees to take a period of time off from their jobs to refresh, recharge and re-energize; our new vacation purchase plan to allow employees to buy up to five additional vacation days; and our Giving Back program, which pays employees to volunteer for a not-for-profit of their choice. What a great way to give back!

Read: Citigroup staff plant trees, work at food banks for annual volunteering day

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

Career crib sheet

January 2008 — Present
Director and country HR officer, Citigroup

January 2006 — December 2007
Senior vice-president, HR, Citigroup

January 2004 — December 2005
Vice-president, HR, Citigroup

January 2001 — December 2003
Assistant vice-president, HR, Citigroup

A: As part of our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, we’ve developed and deployed a number of programs over the years that have contributed to our progress in gender equality. A key initiative in support of our inclusion goals is the locally developed CANnections mentorship program. With options for traditional, reverse and peer mentoring, we’ve supported the growth and development of dozens of women across all levels. However, this program isn’t exclusively for women, as our aim is to create opportunities for all groups to advance.

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

A: As the economy and workplace return to normal, re-integrating employees back to the office will be a key focus. Their expectations, norms and routines have changed, so we’ll have to evolve in kind to provide the right environment, leadership support and value set. We’ll also need to think about the ongoing development of our workforce as we continue to evolve our organization.

Read: How Citigroup is using leave policies to support employees amid the pandemic

New skills will be needed to address our business transformation efforts, greater reliance on data and risk management, as well as the digitization changes we’ll continue to see. And as Citi enters a new era with our first female chief executive officer, efforts to make significant progress in racial and gender equality will be our priorities.

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

A: I love to cook for friends and family. Over the past year, I’ve really missed hosting gatherings and look forward to the days of doing that again. I’ve recently become hooked on Netflix (haven’t we all?) and I’m gravitating towards documentaries, comedies and home design programs — anything that distracts from the chaos of the world.

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

A: To help manage stress and care for my well-being over the last year, I enjoy the many wellness offerings through our Citi Live Well program. One of my particular favourites is the guided meditations — they’ve helped me relax through some very challenging days.

Lauren Bailey is an associate editor at Benefits Canada.