Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 11, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada / HIROC was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2017):
- HIROC helps employees plan securely for the future with contributions to a defined benefit pension plan, retirement planning assistance and phased-in work options
- HIROC provides maternity leave top-up payments for employees who are new mothers (to 90% of salary for up to 17 weeks) and offers a number of flexible work arrangements to help them transition to their new roles as parents
- HIROC encourages ongoing employee development with subsidies for tuition and professional accreditation, in-house and online training programs and financial bonuses for some course completion
At HIROC, it's all about engagement
With 95 full-time employees, it's not a large organization. But neither is the Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada (HIROC) a small family company. Yet for Underwriting Associate Eileen Haghverdian, the word "family" keeps coming up when she describes the atmosphere at HIROC's Toronto offices (there's also a small office in Winnipeg).
"The culture is great," says the 30-year-old, who has worked at HIROC for more than five years. "It's very family-oriented. Our CEO, Peter Flattery, is super-approachable. I remember when I first started he came to my desk and welcomed me to the company. He does that for everybody."
A not-for-profit formed in 1987, HIROC provides liability insurance to more than 600 health care organizations, associations and regulated professionals across Canada, ranging from small clinics and midwives to large regional health centres and major hospitals, including Toronto's University Health Network.
The "Reciprocal" part of the name means that its "subscribers" - the institutions it insures - are all in the same business, i.e. health care, and partner to reduce risk and prevent losses. One of the benefits of belonging to a reciprocal is that surplus is returned to eligible subscribers - since 1987 HIROC has returned over $140 million to them.
Flattery joined HIROC in February 1988, six months after it was established. He says employee engagement is very important to him, and the organization has implemented a number of measures to stimulate it. One is the HIROCafé, an annual event, usually held off-site, where staff are asked what's important to them and where HIROC should be going.
"That feedback is vitally important in the creation of our strategic plan," says Flattery. "I really emphasize to staff that what you're talking about today is going to the board, so you're directly involved in our planning process."
HIROC has several other participatory programs for staff, including idea-generation sessions called the Solution Pit-Stop and Solution Incubator. If employees have an idea or concern outside of strategic planning, they're invited to "get a team, four or five people, and look at the issues, come up with solutions, develop a budget, and present it," says Flattery.
And on the first Wednesday of every month, the entire staff participates in a meeting during which staff members' birthdays, anniversaries and educational accomplishments are acknowledged. But there's also plenty of work talk. "It's a great opportunity to see what your colleagues from other departments are working on," says Haghverdian.
Another camaraderie-fostering tradition, says Haghverdian, is the annual HIROCommunity event, in which staffers donate a day of volunteering to a subscriber. Haghverdian has participated twice in a spring garden cleanup at the Ian Anderson House, a hospice in Oakville, Ont. "Being able to go out and do something like that makes you feel good, because you're giving back," says Haghverdian. "But it's also wonderful to do the garden clean-up with people you usually have only a professional relationship with. It's a bonding experience and adds to that family culture."
Haghverdian also says the benefits - which include a defined-benefit retirement plan, maternity leave top-up payments, flexible work arrangements, plus tuition and professional-accreditation subsidies - and the prominence of women in management positions (they fill half of them) help make HIROC an excellent workplace.
CEO Flattery, who is retiring at the end of 2016, also cites employees' commitment to the organization's vision (which he helped create) - called Partnering to Create the Safest Healthcare System - as a reason for their job satisfaction. That vision means HIROC actively partners with its subscribers to focus on patient safety and reducing risk. "Staff really feel like they're making a difference in health care," he says.