Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2015)
Here are some of the reasons why Bell Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2016) and Montreal's Top Employers (2016):
- Bell Canada created the national "Let's Talk" initiative to support mental health awareness initiatives across Canada (a total commitment of over $100 million) and also encourages employees to get involved in their communities with matching charitable donations as well as financial donations to charities where employees volunteer their time (up to $2,500)
- Bell Canada invests in the development of the next generation, hiring more than 1,000 summer and co-op students in the past two years -- the company also offers three rotational programs for new graduates, which range from 18 months to 3 years in length
- Bell Canada's head office employees are encouraged to keep fit with subsidized memberships to an onsite fitness facility, which features instructor-led classes (including Zumba and spinning) as well as the services of nutritionists, massage therapists and physiotherapists
Bell Canada puts employees at the centre of 'Let's Talk'
For her first time public speaking, Jessie Bower decided to wear low heels. "I was afraid my legs would be shaking," says Bower, a Bell Canada Information Security Specialist in Halifax. Bower was not only nervous about appearing in front of an audience, she was also understandably anxious about the topic - her struggle with mental illness.
Almost two years earlier, Bower had been diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder and was off work recovering. But now she was back on the job and wanted to tell her story and talk about the support she had received from her employer. "Sharing one's experience in overcoming mental health issues is a powerful way to combat the stigma and encourage others to get help," Bower says. "The message needs to be heard."
Today, Bower is an enthusiastic messenger for Bell's Let's Talk, Canada's largest-ever corporate initiative dedicated to mental health. "Life is full of stress and anxiety," she says. "It's great to be in a workplace that really understands that."
Bernard le Duc, Bell's Executive Vice President, Corporate Services, says the company developed Bell Let's Talk because it wanted to embrace a cause where it could make a real difference. "One in five Canadians experience mental health challenges, and it is the number one cause of workplace disability," le Duc says.
Bell Let's Talk has produced positive results - public awareness of mental-health concerns has jumped to 81 per cent over the past five years - and the company recently announced a five year extension and an increase in its funding commitment to $100 million or more.
But Bell's support for mental health is much more than financial. "We were the first company to introduce a national standard for psychological health and safety at work alongside traditional health and safety codes," le Duc says. The company is also training all managers to be sensitive to mental health issues - and has enhanced an already robust benefits program to better cover mental health care.
For her part, Bower says the support she received accounts for only part of her corporate loyalty. "I have been able to advance through the ranks to a management position," Bower says. "My mental illness never held me back. Bell provides lots of career options and support for people to try new things."
Indeed, as Canada's largest communications company, the scope and scale of opportunities at Bell help attract and retain employees across the country, and include roles from working for media and sports franchises to launching the latest innovations for wireless, Internet and TV.
Career development at Bell starts even before an employee's first day at work, with recruitment and on-boarding. "Our new 'Welcome to Bell' program was developed to help create a strong connection for new employees to our team and company culture," says le Duc. "We've also had great success with a new Leadership Pathway program that is designed to support career development of team members who are fairly new to a management role."
In addition, the new Bell CareerZone website is a centralized resource to help team members create a personal growth plan and find new jobs at the company that match their skills and interests.
Combine this with a strong employee recognition program, collaborative LEED-certified workspaces and competitive compensation and benefits programs, and the numbers show that Bell's approach is working. Over the past five years, the company has hired more than 500 graduating students into full-time positions, and 70 per cent of open management positions last year were filled by internal candidates.
"It's our people that make our company strong," says le Duc, "and we want to give them every opportunity to succeed."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Canada's Top 100 Employers winners, published November 9, 2015 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.