The food and beverage company’s manager of pension, benefits and wellness discusses fostering an inclusive and supportive work environment, the importance of flexible benefits and the soothing silence of swimming.

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

A: In the realm of total rewards, simplification versus personalization is the challenge I experience every single day. We want our plans and communications to be tailored to individual needs and preferences; however, we also want them to be easy to understand. Often, those two priorities conflict and require us to strike a balance between understanding our employee needs and avoiding unnecessary complexities.

Read: Survey finds 60% of employees say they’d leave current job for one with more inclusive benefits

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

A: We’re committed to fostering an inclusive and supportive work environment that celebrates diversity, prioritizes the well-being of our employees and encourages a healthy lifestyle. For 2024, we’re investing in our benefits to make them more inclusive and ensure they better serve the evolving needs of our employees and their families. Some of these additional benefits include fertility coverage, breast pump coverage, gender affirmation coverage and further increases to our current physiotherapy and mental-health coverage.

Q: What programs do you consider the most successful?

Career crib sheet

July 2021 — Present
Manager, pension, benefits and wellness, PepsiCo Canada

April 2019 — July 2021
Senior analyst, North America retirement plans, PepsiCo Canada

April 2017 — April 2019
HR health and wellness benefits associate, PepsiCo Canada

November 2014 — March 2017
HR disability analyst, PepsiCo Canada

April 2011 — November 2014
HR analyst, HR benefits delivery, Rogers Communications

March 2010 — June 2011
HR analyst, HR program delivery, Rogers Communications

September 2008 — March 2010
Administrator, pension and benefits, Unilever Canada Inc.

A: I am personally passionate about the design of our defined contribution pension plan. I consider it successful because it’s designed in such a way that gets our young employees excited about retirement. For example, they can save for what’s important to them (vacation or emergency fund) in their tax-free savings account and PepsiCo Canada matches the employee contributions and puts the employer match in their DC plan to save for their retirement. It’s a win-win.

Read: 2021 CAP Suppliers Report: Helping employees plan for retirement while saving for a rainy day

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

A: In order to judge the success of a program or initiative, we first determine the goal. For some programs, our goal is pure utilization and, for others, it’s to ensure our employees understand and value the programs. Often in this field, we may jump to the data or metrics to judge the success without first determining what success looks like. Once we determine what success looks like, we then review the corresponding metric or data point.

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

A: I think managing the workforce and labour shortages will be challenging in the coming year. A large portion of our population will soon be eligible for retirement, so we’ll need to start thinking differently. For me and my role, it means continuing to focus on flexibility within our plans. We need to ensure our plans can adapt to the workforce as it changes.

Read: How different types of pension plans impact employee recruitment, retention

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

A: This year, I got back into swimming for fitness. The silence of the water is soothing. With my husband and two sons (ages seven and 10), we enjoy travelling and exploring new cities. My kids love researching the destination and making lists of their top experiences before we leave. Recently, we explored Chicago and Quebec City.

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

A: Our sabbatical leave program. We offer the opportunity for our salaried employees to take one year of pay and spread it over a year and a half, so you can take time off and get paid. Eligible employees can take six months of paid time off to do whatever is important to them, whether it’s to renovate a house, travel with friends or volunteer overseas — whatever they want to do.

Lauren Bailey is an associate editor at Benefits Canada and the Canadian Investment Review.