Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 8, 2015)
Here are some of the reasons why Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016):
- Norton Rose Fullbright Canada offers generous referral bonuses as an incentive for employees to recruit candidates in their network, up to $5,000 for successful referrals
- Norton Rose Fullbright Canada supports employees who are new mothers with maternity leave top-up payments, to 100% of salary for 17 to 24 weeks, depending on their position, and also offers an option for employees to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence
- In addition to the firm's regular health benefits plan, Norton Rose Fullbright Canada provides a health spending account of up to $750 per year as well as a fitness club subsidy to encourage employees to keep active
Paying it forward at Norton Rose Fulbright
Employees at Norton Rose Fulbright are offered more than just opportunities to advance their career paths. They're also encouraged to pay their experience forward.
One of the ways the law firm supports individual development is through its mentoring program. Michelle Gonsalves is a prime example. Following a summer-student stint as a Legal Assistant in 2006, she was hired to cover a maternity leave, after which she joined the firm permanently.
Today Gonsalves is a Coordinator in the Legal Project Management group, which is a new role within a new team. She mentors junior staff and continues to be mentored herself.
"When I was hired, I was assigned a formal mentor and as I grew, I developed numerous informal mentoring relationships," she says. "This strong mentoring culture allowed me to forge my own career path, and I want to pass that knowledge on to others."
Gonsalves is motivated to invest her time and energy in her employer because of the many ways that Norton Rose Fulbright invests in her. At least once a week, she spends an hour in the expansive, light-filled lounge, which boasts glassed-in reading and TV rooms, a pool table and a kitchen. "I read and eat my lunch, and sometimes I meet my co-workers there," she says.
Providing a space to decompress is essential at the fast-paced, Canadianbased law firm, which has offices around the world. "It's important to relax and re-energize, then go back to work," says National Director Human Resources Rhonda Heffernan. "Our lounge is collegial and inclusive - everyone is welcome there."
Norton Rose Fulbright's comprehensive health-and-wellness program seeks to support the entire development of each person. It's an employee/employer relationship built on shared values and rooted in the fundamental belief that healthy people are happy and productive.
In an industry famous for heavy workloads, tight deadlines and intense pressure, Norton Rose Fulbright realizes that the impact the work has on its employees is significant. That's why it has pioneered an on-site mental health first-aid training program, and why it was one of the first law firms in Canada to partner with Not Myself Today, a not-for-profit organization that addresses workplace mental health.
Each year the firm participates in a full week of activities aiming to raise awareness around mental health and break the stigma associated with it. "We want to help people with both personal and professional stressors, no matter what their issues might be," says Heffernan. "We feel this helps promote a safe and supportive working environment."
Strong bodies make for stronger minds, a philosophy that Norton Rose Fulbright weaves into its corporate culture. It's a culture that reimburses employees 100 per cent (to an annual maximum) for the cost of activities promoting physical wellness and that hosts a national team-building fitness challenge.
During this year's fitness challenge, which was held in May, employees were put on teams of 10 and given pedometers to record their daily steps for a month. Gonsalves used hers while biking, walking, playing soccer and working out at the gym. The firm hopes to make this a global initiative in 2016.
Norton Rose Fulbright recognizes that work doesn't just happen inside the walls of brick-and-mortar buildings, but instead takes place where employees may feel most productive. The firm's flexible work options include telecommuting and compressed or modified workweeks.
"Initiatives targeted at building a healthy mind and a healthy body are key to creating a happy, productive and engaged workforce," says Heffernan. "We're proud of our wellness initiatives and feel they set us apart."
Gonsalves launched her career at Norton Rose Fulbright almost a decade ago and hopes to finish it there. "It's rare to be given the opportunities for advancement I've had in such a short period of time," she says. "It shows me that what I'm doing is valued and the services I'm providing are making a difference."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Greater Toronto's Top Employers winners, published December 8, 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.