Schneider Electric’s senior compensation and benefits leader talks about adapting benefits to flex work, artificial intelligence and time spent gardening.

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

A: Labour market trends over the last two years have had a pronounced impact on expectations around rewards, leading to a greater emphasis on staying competitive. Staying on top of industry trends and digital solutions to maintain our competitive position has been a challenge given the general volatility during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the number of new digital solutions providers entering the market over the same timeframe.

Read: Schneider Electric to roll out global paid leave policy

Career crib sheet

August 2022 — Present

Senior compensation and benefits leader, Schneider Electric

September 2021 — May 2022

Senior manager of total rewards, ABC Technologies Holdings Inc.

November 2019 — September 2021

Senior manager of compensation and performance, the Salvation Army in Canada

May 2018 — November 2019

Manager of workday implementation, the Home Depot Canada

September 2016 — April 2018

Manager of compensation and HRIS, the Home Depot Canada

October 2015 — August 2016

Senior analyst of compensation and benefits, the Home Depot Canada

February 2014 — September 2015

Compensation and benefits analyst, the Home Depot Canada

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

A: We’re focusing on accelerating the digitalization of our benefits portfolio as we continue to adapt our benefits to our flexible work arrangements. We’re also looking to enhance the employee experience with our benefits programs as part of this initiative. We’ll also be looking into refining our benefits programs to enable them to be more inclusive and better support our employees’ diverse needs.

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

A: While there’s certainly a multitude of ways to measure the success of an initiative, I tend to think employee adoption and satisfaction are the key measures of a program’s success. If we’re successful in identifying the need and effectively select and implement a program that caters to that need, we’re likely to score high on both measures.

Read: 82% of Canadian workers think employers should provide virtual health-care services for employees: survey

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

A: I’ve always thought the best benefits programs are relevant to the current environment and provide greater flexibility and simplicity. We recently launched a telemedicine program that allows staff to connect virtually with health-care professionals and to schedule appointments with nurse practitioners and doctors through an app. In the broader context of the current health-care situation, where finding a family physician or scheduling an appointment with a practitioner is increasingly challenging, the ability to get employees timely and flexible access to care through telemedicine is something I’m quite proud of.

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

A: There has been plenty of discussion about artificial intelligence tools in the news recently and I suspect we may see more AI solutions directed at HR functions this year. It will be interesting to see the potential of these tools and the opportunities they can enable for HR. Another topic is around diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and creating strategies to promote a more diverse and inclusive work culture. I think this will continue to be a focus for many organizations this year.

Read: How employers are integrating DEI into their benefits plans

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

A: I enjoy going on walks and trying out new restaurants whenever I get a chance. I’ve recently tried my hand at gardening and really enjoyed that.

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

A: Our Recharge program allows employees to purchase one or two weeks of time off during each enrolment period to use towards a future paid leave of absence. The company covers the cost of some of these days, based on the employee’s tenure. Staff can save between six and 12 weeks of paid leave and are allowed to take their first break after saving at least six weeks. I really like the idea of being able to save up for a longer break and having the company contribute towards some of that time off.

Blake Wolfe is the managing editor of Benefits Canada.