The Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan is reporting increased employee engagement following a pair of wins in Benefits Canada’2022 Workplace Benefits Awards.

The ASEBP’s extensive mental-health strategy led to a win in the Mental health program category for an employer with fewer than 1,000 employees. In 2021, the organization launched a campaign called It Takes a Village, which emphasizes the importance of community and social connection in mental-health support. It also launched a mental-health resources page on its intranet and an online forum where employees can discuss mental-health topics.

Read: Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan awarded for extensive mental-health strategy

In addition, the ASEBP’s response to the coronavirus pandemic led to a win in the Coronavirus and benefits category for an employer with fewer than 1,000 employees.

When the pandemic was declared in March 2020, the organization quickly responded with measures such as a remote and flexible working arrangement. To support employees working from home, the ASEBP also began covering office equipment through its wellness account and launched a new code in its payroll management system, allowing employees who arranged for time to care for family members to track it without affecting their pay.

Nikki Booth, communications manager at the ASEBP, says the awards allow the organization to stand out as a smaller employer among its larger peers and to recognize the hard work of employees.

Read: Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan recognized for coronavirus pandemic response

“We tend to see ourselves as a small-but-mighty organization and we really focus on the public education sector. Knowing that the work we are doing internally resonates — and is in alignment or leading the way with our peers in the benefits world — gives our staff a sense of pride.”

The awards are also assisting with the ASEBP’s talent management strategy in a challenging labour market, says Anna MacDonald, director of human resources services. “We don’t do a lot of advertising or are necessarily well known. Recruitment is difficult [in the current labour market] and to be able to share why we received these awards [with candidates] is important for my team.”

And the wins are bolstering ongoing enhancements to the ASEBP’s mental-health strategy, including updates to the It Takes a Village campaign and new programs that are yet to be revealed to employees, says Booth.

“We didn’t just stop and say, ‘Well, we won these awards, we’re good now.’ We’re continuing to review and see where we can improve our programs. While we’re coming out of the pandemic, I think we’ll continue to have a lot of conversations about mental health.”

Enter the 2023 Workplace Benefits Awards here. The deadline is June 30.