Purolator Inc.’s senior director of total rewards and human resources technology talks mental-health leadership, return to the workplace and the benefits of time outdoors.

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

A: We have a very large workforce with different demographics and needs, so it’s really about continuing to evaluate whether our benefits are meeting those needs and that we’re continuing to offer a competitive total rewards package.

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

A: We’re introducing a workplace mental-health leadership program to develop skills and raise awareness and accountability at the leadership level for a mentally healthy workplace.

Read: Mental health spiralling as 35% of employees consider leaving job: survey

We’ve invested a lot in mental-health training, but we didn’t really have anything that specifically targeted the leadership segment. We’re looking to roll that out next year.

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

Career crib sheet

March 2021 – Present
Senior director, total rewards & HR technology, Purolator Inc.

2016 — March 2021
Director, total rewards, Purolator

2014 — 2016
Senior HR consultant, the Talent Consortium

2006 — 2013
Director, HR, IMAX Corp.

2001 — 2005
Manager, HR, IMAX

1999 — 2001
Manager, HR, MaxLink Communications Inc.

1997 — 1999
Manager, HR, ACC TelEnterprises Ltd.

1995 — 1997
HR generalist, ACC TelEnterprises

1994 — 1995
Compensation specialist, Panasonic Canada Inc.

1993 — 1994
HRIS specialist, Panasonic Canada

A: Whenever we look to launch a new initiative or program, we start by conducting focus group sessions across the organization at different levels. After the launch, we go back to those individuals to determine if we’ve met the objectives we set out in development. We also look at various metrics and key performance indicators to understand if employees are getting the return on investment that we planned for.

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

A: If I had to identify one, it would be our mental-health first aid program. The program was launched in 2019 and the goal was to have a mental-health first aid responder in each terminal and facility we operate. We’ve trained 45 employees and there’s 30 more who are scheduled to complete the training by the end of this year. We plan to capture the remaining 60 in 2022.

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

A: Mental health is going to continue to be a strategic focus area for Purolator in 2022. We know our employees and their family members continue to struggle with the effects of the pandemic and we see that through increased use of our mental-health benefits.

Read: Purolator enhancing mental-health benefits offering amid pandemic

Also, now that more people are vaccinated and we’re talking about the return to the workplace for our office employees through a hybrid work model, there’s hesitation and anxiety around that. Diversity and inclusion, as it relates to total rewards, will also be a strategic focus. It’s the right thing to do and it makes very good business sense, from the perspective of retention and attraction.

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

A: I cherish time with my family, so I make a conscious effort to ensure we have dinner together. I also enjoy spending time outdoors — hiking and walking have been so important for my own mental health. I also love to read and I typically juggle three or four books at once. I particularly enjoy biographies and learning about people’s lives, their challenges and how they overcame certain struggles.

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

A: There’s quite a few but I’d say, during the pandemic, it’s been our chief medical director pro-gram. We offer a regular ‘ask your chief medical director’ chat where he talks about relevant and timely topics. I also recently took advantage of our massage therapy benefit — I was going through a particularly stressful time so I booked that massage and it did me a world of good.

Blake Wolfe is an associate editor at Benefits Canada.