Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Desjardins Group / Mouvement des caisses Desjardins was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017) and Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2016):
- Desjardins Group supports new parents with maternity leave top-up payments for new mothers (to 95% of salary for 18 weeks) and parental leave top-up for new fathers and adoptive parents (to 95% for 12 weeks) -- head office employees can also take advantage of an onsite daycare centre
- In addition to 3 weeks of starting vacation allowance, Desjardins Group offers employees up to 5 paid personal days each year, which can be scheduled at the employees' discretion
- True to its raison d'être, Desjardins Group is an incredible corporate citizen, investing over $81 million in the broader community through sponsorships, scholarships and philanthropic partnerships in the past year
Desjardins offers balance beyond the bottom line
Originally trained in aerospace design, Michael Kennedy later became a consultant and spent a lot of time in airports, travelling to meet with clients and working long hours. But when he and his wife started a family five years ago, he was ready to touch down with a company that offered a less stressful lifestyle. "I was looking around for something that would make more sense from a work-life balance point of view," says the Senior Advisor, Strategy and Corporate Performance, in the Mississauga office of Lévis, Que.-based Desjardins Group.
For Kennedy, it's been a happy landing at Desjardins, Canada's largest financial services cooperative. The company's generous benefits are designed to be family friendly, beginning with maternity leave top-up payments for new mothers to 95 per cent of salary for 18 weeks, and parental leave top-up payments for new fathers and adoptive parents to 95 per cent of salary for 12 weeks. Head office employees can also take advantage of an onsite daycare centre.
Vacation time starts at three weeks, and Desjardins Group offers up to five paid personal days each year, which can be scheduled at the employee's discretion.
But balance is by no means boring. Desjardins Group is a dynamic company that has grown well beyond its Quebec roots. The 116-year-old firm has established a strong presence across much of Canada through its operations in consumer and commercial banking, investing, and insurance. With assets of $248.1 billion, it's one of the best capitalized banks in North America. And with the completion of its purchase of State Farm Canada in early 2015, it became the second largest provider of property and casualty insurance in Canada.
That makes for a challenging and stimulating work environment. "It's an exciting time," says Kennedy. "It's definitely among the top employers in terms of positivity and family support, while still being high-performing - so it's kind of cool that way."
Desjardin's culture of service begins with happy employees, says Marc-André; Malboeuf, Vice-President, HR Centre of Expertise. "A higher level of employee engagement has a direct impact on higher customer appreciation," he notes.
The annual employee engagement survey keeps Desjardins in touch with the needs of employees. Based on the results, the company targets two areas for improvement each year, and consults with employee focus groups to design the best action plan. It works to optimize the employee experience through seven key aspects of their careers, including their orientation as new recruits, training, performance evaluation, job transitions and retirement planning. "One of our key slogans is, 'Your talent is moving us forward,'" says Malboeuf.
As a co-operative, community service is planted deep in Desjardins' DNA. The company was founded in 1908 by Alphonse and Dorimène Desjardins to help lower-income Québecois, in particular, to meet their financial needs. It consistently places high in rankings of Canada's most socially responsible companies. In the past year alone, Desjardins Group and the Desjardins Foundation have invested more than $81 million in the broader community through sponsorships, scholarships and philanthropic partnerships.
That dedication to the community helps make Desjardins a meaningful place to work, says Kennedy. "Our whole reason for being is to contribute back to people," he observes. "When you think of what you do, that's a real feel-good element."
Kennedy also enjoys the company's Quebec roots and its diverse workforce. Increasing diversity and advancing women are key priorities for Desjardins Group going forward, says Malboeuf. "We're all about openness and inclusion," he adds. "We want to be a front-line player in our changing society because we know it will bring strength and richness to our organization."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 10, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Desjardins Group / Mouvement des caisses Desjardins was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016):
- Desjardins Group manages a "Young Intern Officer" program for individuals between the ages of 18 and 30, allowing them to work as a member of the Board of Directors of the Board of Supervision of a Desjardins caisse for a 1-year period -- participants also have an opportunity to work with elected officers as well as sit-in on meetings and discussions
- To help young people gain employment experience, Desjardins Group created the Desjardins Youth Work Experience program which provides summer jobs and internships for participants between the ages of 15 to 18 -- the program was developed in partnership with Carrefour jeunesse-emploi and local businesses, with Desjardins offering financial support to facilitate internships
- Through "Fondation Desjardins", Desjardins Group offers scholarships to students interested in technical, vocational and post-secondary studies, providing nearly $16 million in support since the initiative's inception
At Desjardins, young employees feel appreciated
Hyder Alwin was managing a retail electronics store in Mississauga, Ont., when he decided to pursue a career in the insurance industry. "I had a few friends in the industry," he says. "I talked to them and looked at a few companies. But in the end, I chose Desjardins Group."
The leading cooperative financial group in Canada and the fifth largest cooperative financial group in the world, Desjardins Group serves more than 7 million individual and business members and clients across Canada, specializing in wealth management, life and health insurance, property and casualty insurance, personal, business and institutional services.
Now 30, Alwin joined Desjardins three years ago as an insurance agent, but realized even before he'd finished his first year that he wanted to become a manager. He discussed his ambitions during his annual review and received encouragement and support not only from his own manager but from other areas of the company as well.
"We believe in the next generation," says Josiane Moisan, Senior VP of Human Resources. "So we invest in offering our youngest employees the tools they need to advance
with Desjardins and enjoy a long, varied and rewarding career."
As he continued working as an agent, Alwin joined Desjardin's leadership support program, attending management training sessions and gaining experience by filling in temporarily for other managers when they went on vacation. The company also flew him to Calgary, where he conducted training sessions for newly recruited agents.
"After about a year, in November 2014, I applied for a position as a manager," Alwin says, "and now here I am."
As Section Manager of a Client Care Centre in Mississauga, Alwin manages a team of 16 agents who focus primarily on sales-related tasks such as quoting on auto or property insurance policies. With an average age of about 35, Alwin's team includes several individuals who have worked for Desjardins for more than 25 years.
"We're a Top 100 employer," Alwin says. "We offer good benefits and a great RRSP program, and we're strong on work-life balance. That was a big consideration for me."
The same factors that attracted Alwin also persuade other young people to join Desjardins. Using strong employer branding, the company recruits in more than 20 fields of employment, and it rewards employees for their loyalty by encouraging them to enhance their skills and qualifications as they advance through the organization.
"We're in a very competitive industry," says Moisan, "and we must be able to attract the best talent to meet future staffing needs. We invest a great deal to give our youngest employees the tools they need to advance. That's one of the reasons that young people recognize us as a top employer."
To encourage individual growth as they advance through the organization, Desjardins offers tuition assistance, subsidies for professional accreditation and programs that enable young staff members to explore potential opportunities as managers and executives.
"We have a Career Ambassador program in our sector," Alwin says, "so an employee can find out about the roles and responsibilities involved in other positions within the company before deciding to apply for it."
In return for its support, employees stay with the organization. Altogether, more than 8,000 managers and employees change jobs within the company in the course of a year, helping Desjardins to achieve an employee retention rate of 96 per cent, an enviable record in any industry.
While career advancement, along with benefits and pension plans, appeal to Alwin, the details matter as well, like the staff barbecue every summer, the regular outings at a local pub and the fridge in the office stocked with ice cream. "They're just small things," he says, "but they make a difference. You feel appreciated."
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 21, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Desjardins Group / Mouvement des caisses Desjardins was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2016):
- Over 800 Desjardins Group employees have registered with the organization's online carpooling website since it was first established in 2011 -- and over 75 employees utilize the "Communauto" car-sharing service, which Desjardins supports through its corporate membership
- Desjardins Group maintains a number of longstanding initiatives to recycle as much as possible, including donating used office furniture to schools and non-profit organizations, proper recycling or reuse of used computer equipment and the ongoing "Desjardins Paper Challenge" to remind employees to reduce colour printing and overall paper consumption
- Desjardins Group introduced a special financing rate for members who purchase new hybrid and electric vehicles as well as discounts on insurance rates (up to 20 percent for electric vehicle purchases) -- similarly, home buyers who purchase LEED certified homes or commercial properties are eligible for a discount of up to 10 percent on their property insurance
Desjardins energizes employees to live sustainably
Every day, Eric Donahue goes to work in downtown Montreal from his home in La Prairie during rush hour. But instead of sitting in traffic, he cruises for about 20 km through side streets and along the bike path that runs beside the St. Lawrence River.
After a quick shower and a change of clothes, he begins his workday. Donahue, a Development Advisor, is one of almost 1,000 employees of Desjardins Group who uses the locker room and shower facilities at Complexe Desjardins. That's an increase of 22 per cent over 2014.
"I always have lots of energy when I ride my bike to work," says Donahue, "and I'm more productive throughout the day. I also feel I have more control in dealing with stressful situations because I've been active since early morning."
Founded in 1900 in Lévis, Québec, Desjardins Group serves more than 7 million individual and business members and clients across Canada, specializing in wealth management, life and health insurance, property and casualty insurance, and personal, business and institutional services.
As a leader in corporate social responsibility, Desjardins Group encourages all of its 45,000 full- and part-time employees to lead more sustainable lives with initiatives ranging from reducing gas consumption and encouraging the use of alternative transportation to redistributing surplus food.
As part of its Alternative Transportation Program, for example, the company offers a variety of options to employees seeking an alternative to traveling alone by car when commuting and going to appointments.
The program includes 4 components that:
- encourage the use of public transit;
- facilitate carpooling;
- encourage active transportation (walking, biking, jogging, inline skating, etc.); and
- change professional commuting habits by using technological tools (video conferencing or teleconferencing).
"Alternative transportation is beneficial for everyone," says Pauline D'Amboise, Secretary General and Vice-President of Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility. "It's good for employees' health and quality of life. It reduces absenteeism. It reduces commuting-related costs, and it helps employees put their personal values into action. The community benefits, as well, from a reduction of pollution, noise and traffic congestion."
To support employees in their individual contributions to sustainable lifestyles, Desjardins Group has taken a number of steps as part of the Change the World, One Step a Time campaign. Under the campaign, the company aims to reduce its overall ecological footprint by improving employees' transportation habits and emphasizing the health benefits of a more sustainable lifestyle.
"We believe it's important to provide this kind of infrastructure," says D'Amboise. "It all contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
Desjardins first adopted its Environmental Option in 1988. Since then it has taken concrete steps toward three priorities: responsible purchasing, residual waste management and energy efficiency associated with property management and transportation. Desjardins also provides its members and clients with a complete range of green financial products: insurance, loans, investment funds, for individuals and businesses, all aligned with energy efficiency.
These green initiatives are popular. In the last year alone, almost 4,500 employees made use of the company's 20 per cent discount on public transit, for example. "In Quebec, we're the employer with the largest number of employees who use this kind of program," says D'Amboise. "We believe firmly that our commitment to tackle climate change and encourage our employees, members and clients to adapt to a more sustainable world is a key factor in our social responsibility."
For Eric Donahue, riding his bike to work makes a difference to his productivity and satisfaction at work. "It also makes me feel proud to work here. In fact, I wish more companies did as much to support their employees' sustainable lifestyles."