Lululemon Athletica Inc.’s benefits program manager discusses engaging young employees with retirement savings, yoga benefits and riding his motorcycle to Whistler.

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

A. I look after our retirement savings program, so the challenge we have is based on our demographics. All of our retail employees are fairly young, so just trying to get them to be more engaged and participating in those programs is quite a challenge. During the onboarding process, we explain how the program works and the importance of savings. We also leverage our [record keepers] to provide some communication and financial education . . . on the importance of saving for their future.

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

A. In terms of the retirement savings program, we want to increase our participation rate, so we’re looking at potential plan design changes. That could be either allowing immediate eligibility or looking at automatic enrolment for our 401(k) plan [in the U.S.]. It’s just been internal conversations so far.

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


August 2019 — present
Benefits program manager, Lululemon Athletica Inc.

August 2015 — August 2019
Benefits representative, people and culture, Lululemon Athletica

January — August 2015
Benefits administrator, FYidoctors

A. We look at the participation rate to see engagement and . . . how many people are enrolled and participating in the program. And we also do annual surveys with our retail population to see what they value in terms of their overall benefits, including feedback on what we can improve on. We haven’t made changes based on that yet, but there are definitely vibrations that we’ve heard, and we’re in conversations with the senior leadership team to talk about making some potential changes.

Q. What program do you consider the most successful or that you’re most proud of?

A. We have a yoga fitness benefit that we call Sweaty Pursuits. This program has been hugely successful; we have a pretty big uptake in terms of participation. And that’s something we hear from employees: that it helps them in terms of paying for their fitness classes and keeping them in a healthy, active lifestyle. How it works is, every employee gets a prepaid Visa card that’s loaded with a monthly amount they can use towards fitness classes. And for head office employees, we also have a yoga studio in-house, as well as fitness facilities so employees are free to use those as well.

Read: Five fitness, health and wellness trends for 2019

Q. What key human resources issues do you expect in 2019?

A. I think diversity in the workforce, especially for us. Like I said, we have retail employees who are very young, in their mid-20s, just out of school, and then we also have head office employees, so just trying to figure out programs that are tailored towards our specific demographics.

Q. What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

A. I have two dogs, Penny and Lucky, so I enjoy taking them out for walks. I also enjoy going to the gym and working out. And in my free time, I ride my motorcycle around the city. I just commute and sometimes I’ll take it to Whistler, [B.C.].

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

A. Our retirement savings program. We call it the Fund Your Future program. We have a [registered retirement savings plan] and also an employee stock purchase plan. I think those are my favourite benefits because they help me, and our employees, save for the future. Financial wellness is a huge topic these days, so I think having those programs there to support employees is very positive.

Kelsey Rolfe is an associate editor at Benefits Canada.