Telus Communications Inc.’s director of pension and benefits talks about plan member choice, honouring diversity and local walks.

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

A. Providing personalized, meaningful benefits to our team members, while at the same time ensuring the sustainability of the program through prudent cost management — it can be a tough balance. We have four generations working at Telus and not everyone values the same thing.

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

A. In 2019, we launched an enhanced benefits program that provides our team members with considerably more flexibility. It includes $5,000 coverage for mental health-related benefits, unbundled health and dental options and access to innovative virtual-care solutions, giving our team members more choice and control over how they manage their well-being.

Read: A field guide to the spectrum of Canadian mental-health professionals

Career crib sheet

2000 — present
Director of pension and benefits, Telus Communications

1996 — 2000
Director of payroll and benefits, Telus Communications

1993 — 1996
Senior benefits consultant, Telus Communications

We also transitioned our defined contribution pension plans to a new record keeper and completely revamped our investment lineup. We now allow more flexibility on contributions going into the plan, and with the new fund lineup and mobile access, we’ve received really positive feedback. This year, we’re working diligently to introduce decumulation options within our DC plans. We’re excited about this as we believe providing these options within the plan will provide a significantly improved benefit to our team members.

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

A. We look at a number of factors including enrolment rate, the cost of the program and, of course, feedback from our team members. Based on these measures, last year’s flexible benefits program launch was a great success — we had a 96 per cent enrolment rate and our estimated cost of the plan was within two per cent of the actual cost. We continue to get lots of great feedback about the changes to our mental-health benefits.

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

A. I’m most proud of our continued commitment to building sustainable programs that honour individuality and celebrate the diversity of our team and their families. This year, we’re building on the enhancements to the program in 2019 by increasing coverage for fertility treatments and introducing coverage for people undergoing gender-affirming surgery.

Read: How Accenture supports transitioning employees with customizable benefits plan

Q. What key human resources issues do you expect in 2020?

A. Attracting and retaining top talent will continue to be important in 2020. We need to ensure everyone understands the value of the plans we provide and how it reflects their unique contribution to Telus’s success.

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

A. When I’m not working, I like to walk, read and spend time with family and friends. You’ll often see me walking along the promenade where I live or through the many trails and paths nearby.

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

A. I don’t really have one favourite employee benefit. What I like best is the real value that’s created because the benefits work together to support the total health and well-being of our team members.

Avery Page is a former conference editor at Benefits Canada.