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 (2017):
- 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 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 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."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 9, 2017)
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 (2017):
- 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 or the Board of Supervision of a Desjardins caisse for a 1-year period -- program participants also engage with committees and commissions on ideas to better serve younger co-op members
- To help young people gain employment experience, Desjardins Group created the Desjardins Youth Work Experience program to provide summer jobs for participants between the ages of 15 and 18 -- the program was developed in partnership with Carrefour jeunesse-emploi and local businesses, with Desjardins offering financial support to facilitate internships
- Desjardins Group maintains a Young Executives Network for managers under the age of 35 -- the network organizes a number of activities for members including an annual conference with workshops and senior-level speakers, a networking cocktail hour, monthly newsletters and community involvement initiatives
At Desjardins, community spirit is in the DNA
Helen Lialias loves getting together with her department colleagues from Desjardins Group every few months to catch up on things and forge closer ties. But they're not your usual social gatherings at a local restaurant or pub, says the 31-year-old Marketing Communications Advisor with Canada's largest financial services cooperative.
Recently, they planted trees not far from their office in Mississauga, Ont. And on another occasion, the group helped prepare the meal for a local food bank's annual charity dinner.
Lialias, who joined Desjardins in December 2015, says the company's community focus has made working there especially meaningful. "As a co-op, that's one of their core values - to give back," says the York University grad, who combines her anthropology degree with a public relations certificate from Humber College and a digital marketing management certificate from the University of Toronto. "The community work we do is really fulfilling, and allows you to get out with your team and learn about things besides your daily responsibilities."
The company's emphasis on community and customers has helped create a very supportive environment among co-workers. "I love my team," says Lialias. "They bring a lot of expertise and knowledge that have helped me grow."
And from her department manager to President and CEO Guy Cormier, leaders at Desjardins are committed to helping employees succeed, adds the Toronto native. "As a young person, it's important to have strong mentors and strong leaders to help you grow," she observes. "They promote innovation and perseverance. That's something that inspires me in my work every day."
Younger employees are essential to Desjardins' future success, says Marie-Huguette Cormier, Executive Vice-President, Human Resources and Communications. "To keep them, we need to give them what they're looking for, and that's why we're innovating in the ways that we reach out to this group," she explains.
"We've been working hard to offer young employees a stimulating environment, career- and skill-development programs," she says, "as well as the latest tools for a rich, varied and rewarding career with Desjardins."
Those offerings include a Young Intern Officer program for employees between 18 and 30, which allows them to work as a member of the Board of Directors or the Board of Supervision of a Desjardins branch for one year. Participants also sit on a variety of committees within the company to bring forward new ideas to serve younger colleagues and customers - referred to as members.
Desjardins Group also launched a Young Executives Network for managers under the age of 35. The group organizes a number of activities and services for members, including an annual conference with workshops and senior-level speakers, a networking cocktail hour, a monthly newsletter, and community activities.
To help secondary school students gain employment experience, the cooperative created the Desjardins Youth Work Experience, which provides summer jobs to young people between the ages of 15 to 18. The program was developed in partnership with the Quebec government's Carrefour jeunesse-emploi youth employment initiative and local businesses, with Desjardins offering financial support to facilitate internships.
After working previously in communications roles in the retail sector and for an education technology startup, Lialias says she appreciates the better work-life balance at Desjardins and its competitive benefits package. Vacation time starts at three weeks, and employees can take up to five paid personal days each year, which can be scheduled at their discretion.
She also likes the company's Quebec roots. Founded by Alphonse and Dorimène Desjardins in 1908 to help low-income Québecois meet their financial needs, Desjardins Group today has a strong presence across much of Canada through its operations in consumer and commercial banking, investing, and insurance. It consistently places high in rankings of Canada's most socially responsible companies, and in the past year alone, has invested more than $81 million in the broader community through sponsorships, scholarships and philanthropic partnerships.