ABC Technologies Inc.’s director of total rewards talks wellness, new retirement savings plans and gardening.

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

A. The top challenge is a combination of many factors linked to the unprecedented times we’re experiencing. Like many organizations, the pandemic hit us hard. We’ve had to reduce our budget, which in turn required us to reduce our workforce and resources. However, we still have to deliver benefits and impactful programs and services to our employees and there’s an urgent need to provide them with assistance in ways that are new to us.

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

A. The pandemic has opened our eyes to the missing component in our total rewards package: wellness. While we have great programs in place, employees were unfamiliar with them and usage was low.

Read: What are the ingredients of a successful wellness program?

Career crib sheet

2019 — present
Director, total rewards, ABC Technologies Inc.

2017 — 2019
Director, total rewards and corporate services, SCI Group Inc.

2012 — 2016
Director, compensation and benefits, Purolator Inc.

2011 — 2012
Director, compensation and benefits, Citi Canada

2009 — 2011
Senior manager, total rewards, Katz Group Canada Ltd.

2007 — 2009
Manager, compensation services, Staples Canada Inc.

January 2006
— December 2007
HR manager, compensation and benefits, Nestle Canada Inc.

July 2005
— December 2005
HRIS and project manager, Nestle Canada

April 2003
— June 2005
Compensation and HRIS specialist, Nestle Canada

At the initial height of the coronavirus outbreak, we created our first health and wellness newsletter and received incredible feedback. It touches on multiple wellness topics and reaches a large audience efficiently and effectively. In addition, the crisis solidified the need for a comprehensive wellness program. Of course, this calls for a huge transformational culture shift. We’re eager to get all our employees on board and create a healthier, happier workforce.

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

A. Last year, we rolled out our first retirement savings plan — including a registered retirement savings plan, a deferred profit-sharing plan and a tax-free savings account — through a well constructed communications plan. After only one month of our go-live date, 80 per cent of eligible employees were enrolled. Even though we had to work under an extremely short timeline with an incredibly lean team, we had a well-defined plan and a strong sense of commitment from everyone.

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

A. How to keep our employees safe, connected, motivated and engaged while striving to sustain the business and navigate through unchartered waters — it will require us to adapt and transform. We’ll need to create new policies, procedures and programs that reach two groups: those who are still working remotely at home and those who are working in our manufacturing plants.

Read: Employers expect remote, flexible arrangements to linger after coronavirus: survey

Listening to our employees and consistently providing them with the information, resources and environment they need to thrive will be important. In the meantime, we’ll also have to build a culture of resilience that allows us to emerge from these difficult times as one team, even stronger than before.

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

A. I seldom have free time, but when I do, I like to read books and watch recorded webinars from the conferences I missed. One of my greatest passions is gardening, which gives me a lot of joy and peace. I love that you can watch something beautiful grow right before your eyes. Each year, I become better and have an opportunity to try planting new things and watching them flourish.

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

A. My favourite ancillary employee benefit is the Venngo WorkPerks program, which provides dis-
counts to restaurants, clothing stores and a variety of other great places. Every employee is eligible for the discounts on their first day. From a company perspective, it doesn’t cost us much, but from an employee perspective, it’s something that can really make a difference to their everyday lives.

Cassandra Williamson-Hopp is conference editor at Benefits Canada

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in Benefits Canada.

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