Hootsuite Inc.’s director of total rewards talks benefits in a remote working environment, the four pillars of wellness and recharging through physical activity.

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

A: Hootsuite is very big on diversity, equity and inclusion and we operate in multiple countries, so it’s a balance of finding the right benefits to meet the needs of all individuals. A prime example is that we [introduced] a fertility perk, as well as a global parental leave [program] that gives birth or non-birth parents across the globe 26 weeks off with pay. The other big challenge is, as we move forward, we’re going to have to be thinking and looking at benefits differently — if people are working at home, what benefits make sense from that perspective?

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

A: Next year, we’re looking at rebranding our benefits program and calling it ‘wellness.’ There’s going to be four pillars: financial, mental, physical and social wellness. It’s all-encompassing and, when we bring in that layer of DEI under those four pillars, it’s going to be a jigsaw puzzle that our team is excited to work on for next year.

Read: Hootsuite incorporating wellness, DEI into redesigned workspace

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

Career crib sheet

September 2021 – Present
Director, total rewards, Hootsuite Inc.

2017 — Present
Founder, RYPE Consulting

2018 — 2021
Director, total rewards, Teekay Tankers Ltd.

2014 — 2017
Head of total rewards, KGHM Polska Miedz

2013 — 2014
Senior manager, compensation and benefits, Aritzia Inc.

2008 — 2013
Manager, compensation and HRIS, ATCO Ltd.

2007 — 2008
HR lead, Accenture

2004 — 2007
HR manager, Walker Group

A: We look at utilization and come up with questions to ask in our employee engagement surveys. We also want to set up focus groups in each country [that we operate in] to hear what employees like and don’t like. By doing that, it’s going to better connect us to our employees in each country to understand how we can continually improve and ensure that we’re hitting the mark.

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

A: We’ve had enormous positive feedback on our mental-wellness week that we held in July. We conducted a survey afterwards and saw engagement scores increase as a result. More than 90 per cent of our employees wanted to see this program come back and we’re holding it again in 2022.

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

A: The pandemic has led a lot of organizations to reassess how to attract, motivate and retain talent. What people value now, in terms of work time and location, has significantly changed. If people are working from home, are we going to give them the option of having a stipend or reimbursement for office furniture? And if you’re not as physically active working from home, do we look at programs that allow people to connect and get active as well?

Read: Hootsuite supporting employee mental health with additional week off

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

A: My weekends are spent hiking and paddle boarding and I play a lot of volleyball. Being physically active — especially during the week, when I can be so immersed in work — is how I recharge. I also like spending time with family and friends — that social aspect is important as well. As long as I’m outside being active with great friends, I’m in a happy place.

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

A: I believe employee assistance programs don’t get enough of the limelight. Many people look at EAPs as something they go to when an issue or problem comes up. But for someone like myself, who sometimes struggles with organization, . . . you can reach out to an EAP almost as a concierge that can help you find a particular service, like a housecleaner. I think the potential of EAPs, in terms of how they can help in both your personal and professional life, is very understated.

Blake Wolfe is an associate editor at Benefits Canada.