Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 21, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Alberta Blue Cross was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2017):
- Alberta Blue Cross encourages employees to adopt healthy, active lifestyles by offering a variety of onsite exercise classes at reduced rates ($2 per class), such as Zumba, circuit training, yoga and cardio kickboxing -- and also offers a subsidy of up to $1,200 to help cover the costs of fitness club memberships and related wellness expenses
- Alberta Blue Cross supports ongoing employee education with generous tuition subsidies for courses taken at outside institutions (up to $4,000) and nurtures high potential employees through dedicated leadership training, focusing on women in leadership roles and the next generation
- Through Alberta Blue Cross' employee-led charity, Hearts of Blue, employees can donate funds as well as volunteer their time to assist dozens of community-based charitable organizations, receiving up to 6 paid days off to volunteer each year (depending on the project)
At Alberta Blue Cross, wellness starts in the office
When Freddy Damani set his sights on joining Alberta Blue Cross, it was not because of its generous employee benefits or professional development opportunities. At the time, Damani was working at an Edmonton shelter for homeless youth that Alberta Blue Cross's employee-run charitable foundation had singled out for a donation. But that, by itself, was not what impressed Damani.
"Giving money is important, but giving employees time to support a charity is huge," says Damani, now a Marketing Manager with Alberta's largest benefits provider. "A bunch of employees took time to visit our facility, meet with staff and learn about our activities - it was inspiring."
He adds: "It was such a positive to see a company that shared my values and that cares about the community. I wanted to be part of that."
Damani soon got that opportunity, starting two years ago as a communications officer. He still gives back to the community, taking advantage of Alberta Blue Cross's policy for paid time off to participate in corporate-sponsored volunteer activities. "Helping others turns me into a better person," Damani says. "I appreciate the opportunity to grow personally as well as professionally. It makes me proud to work here."
As a wellness provider for others, Alberta Blue Cross also strives to make its workplace the healthiest in the province. "It's about walking the talk," says Mark Razzolini, Vice-President, Human Resources. "If we believe in the health and wellness of Albertans, then we need to start at home."
To that end, Alberta Blue Cross opened a new Balance Wellness Centre last year at its Edmonton head office. At no cost, employees can take Pilates, yoga, Zumba and other fitness classes offered morning, noon and after work. Every employee also has access to a Balance Wellness Platform
that includes a health-risk assessment and an action plan with prize incentives for achieving wellness goals. To help people reach their targets, Fitbits are provided free of charge.
"Healthier employees are more productive employees," says Razzolini. And they are also more engaged, as evidenced by the 80-per-cent-plus score last year on a Corporate Engagement survey. "That's really high," Razzolini says, noting the average score among companies is roughly 67 per cent, "and we intend to make it even higher."
That's a challenge easy to meet if Alberta Blue Cross hires more people like Damani. "The company has shown that it really believes in its people," he says. "It makes me want to give back more."