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 Desjardins Group / Mouvement des caisses Desjardins was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2016) and Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2016):
- Desjardins Group supports new parents with maternity leave top-ups (to 95% of salary for 18 weeks) for new mothers and parental leave top-up payments (to 95% for 12 weeks) for new fathers and adoptive parents -- and offers an onsite daycare centre for head office employees returning to work
- Desjardins Group not only provides great career prospects but is a leader in helping employers plan for life after work with retirement planning assistance services and generous employer contributions to a defined benefit pension plan and a health benefits program that includes family coverage and also extends to its retired employees, with no age limit
- True to its raison d'être, Desjardins Group is an incredible corporate citizen, re-investing over $82 million last year (and similar amounts every year) in the broader community through sponsorships, scholarships and charitable partnerships
- Along with reserved parking for carpoolers, and a guaranteed ride home if needed, Desjardins Group offers a daily shuttle service that runs between the Lévis head office and its Montréal location -- the credit union also offers indoor bike parking at the head office and discounts for cyclists using the BIXI shared-use bike programs in Montréal and Toronto
When employees talk, Desjardins Group listens
When Melissa Savio decided to look for a job in the insurance industry, she applied to only one company: Desjardins Group.
"The organization's values were in line with mine," she says.
The values that attracted her have not only helped Desjardins Group become Quebec's largest employer and the sixth-largest financial cooperative in the world, they have also helped the organization achieve an employee retention rate of 96 per cent, an enviable record in any industry.
"We have some challenging jobs in this organization," says Stéphane Pelletier, Vice-President, Talent Acquisition and Management, "so a retention rate like that is impressive."
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, personal, business and institutional services. Almost 45,000 full- and part-time employees not only work for the organization but can also contribute to its management policies as members of the cooperative.
Keeping employees focused on the values of the organization presents a major challenge. "With so many moving parts, you can lose touch," says Pelletier, who joined Desjardins Group two years ago after holding senior HR positions in the telecommunications and aerospace industries.
To ensure that every employee has a voice in its operations, Desjardins Group continually asks for feedback through its Employee Experience program. With online surveys and face-to-face conversations, employees share their ideal professional experience and make suggestions for improvement.
"Our biggest strength as an employer is our listening skills," says Pelletier. "We're constantly meeting with employees to see what we can do better."
Not only does Desjardins Group invite employees' opinions, it also acts on their suggestions. As Melissa Savio says, "They actually do something."
In the course of a year, more than 8,000 managers and employees change jobs within the organization. Savio, for example, joined Desjardins Group in 2006 as a Junior Claims Advisor in Toronto. Over the following nine years, she has advanced to the role of Accident Benefit Claims Trainer. "Now I train people to do the job that I used to do," she says.
For five of her nine years with Desjardins Group, Savio worked from her home in Mississauga, west of Toronto, to accommodate her family schedule and to ensure that her work didn't detract from the quality of her personal life. "Work-life balance is an extremely important principle at Desjardins Group," she says.
Using strong employer branding, Desjardins Group 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.
In addition to tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions and for online and in-house training initiatives, Desjardins Group offers bonuses of as much as $1,000 to employees who earn selected professional accreditations.
Savio took advantage of the Desjardins Group's active support for employee training and development, earning her designation as a Certified Insurance Professional from the Insurance Institute of Canada.
"If you know what you want to do," she says, "they'll help you get there."
In addition to strong branding and attractive working conditions, loyal employees also help Desjardins Group in recruiting top candidates in a highly competitive marketplace. "I constantly tell people that this is the place to be," says Savio.
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.
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."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Canada's Top Employers for Young People winners, published January 11, 2016 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.
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."
This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.