Scotiabank’s director of global benefits talks navigating the coronavirus pandemic, enhancing the employee experience and planning for the post-pandemic workplace.
Q: What top challenges do you face in your role?
A: Primary challenges are ensuring we’re evolving our programs to meet the needs of a diverse and changing workforce and communicating these programs clearly. We focus a lot on making clear to employees the programs and services available to them, the purpose they serve and how to access them.
Over the past year, these challenges have been heightened and have come into sharper focus — there’s a need for more rapid responses and greater communication as we all navigate the uncertainty of being in a pandemic.
Q: What new programs or initiatives are you looking to implement?
A: Scotiabank has always been very focused on mental health and that has stepped up even more since the onset of the pandemic. We want to continue our good momentum and keep expanding the resources and tools available to support employee well-being. We’re also focused on improving the employee experience — how we present the different benefits and how they work in tandem to create a cohesive picture, ensuring employees get the most out of their benefits.
Q: What programs do you consider the most successful or that you’re most proud of?
A: It’s the obvious one here: our support for employees in response to the pandemic. It’s remarkable how many people mobilized — and quickly — to help support their colleagues. Across the bank, many worked hard to come up with ideas and put them in place, from financial support and additional time off to access to virtual health-care, a broad range of mental-health resources and more childcare benefits. One of the bank’s pillars is “Winning Team” and I couldn’t think of a better example than the teamwork displayed during these precarious times.
Q: What key human resources issues do you expect in the year ahead?
A: There’s been so much innovation (and acceleration of innovation) in the benefits space, there’s a need to better understand the landscape. Before taking on a new offering or vendor, I expect all employers will have to really consider what makes it unique or different as well as how it complements, or makes redundant, existing programs.
But the return to work is also top of mind — who are the various employees working remotely, on-site or in hybrid roles? We’ll need to discern how employees’ working roles have changed and how to best enable them to succeed. How we address these questions will be critical not just in the short term but also long term.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?
A: I’ve always been a big reader and a fan of movies. I’ve been trying to lean more to the reading side since it’s easy to disappear into a streaming hole without much else to do. With good weather on the way, I’m looking forward to getting back on the tennis court and being in the sun.
Q: What’s your favourite employee benefit and why?
A: It’s hard to pick one, so perhaps that’s my favourite: the ability to fit the benefits to what I may need at any given time. We recently added an option to purchase additional time off, so once it’s safe to travel, that will likely move up.
Lauren Bailey is an associate editor for Benefits Canada.