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 Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016):
- Shoppers Drug Mart maintains a flexible health benefits plan that allows employees to customize levels of coverage to suit their personal needs -- unused credits can be transferred to a healthcare spending account, a personal wellness account, or taken as taxable cash
- Shoppers Drug Mart supports employees who are new mothers, fathers, or adoptive parents with maternity and parental leave top-up payments for up to 11 weeks and offers the convenience of onsite daycare when they are ready to return to work (managed by Kids & Co.)
- In addition to helping employees save for the future, Shoppers Drug Mart offers a number of financial rewards, including signing bonuses for some employees, year-end bonuses for all and generous referral bonuses for employees who successfully refer a candidate (to $3,000)
Shoppers fosters a culture of caring and opportunity
Caring is in the DNA of Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. As Canada's leading retailer of pharmacy products and services, the company has more than a routine interest in the well-being of the patrons of the more than 1,250 independently owned and operated Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores across the country.
"It is easy to feel good about working for Shoppers Drug Mart," says Sharla Paraskevopoulos, Vice President of Human Resources, "because our culture is focused on maintaining the health and wellness of our customers. Our relationship goes much deeper than just selling a product or service to people."
At the same time, she says, "we also have a strong desire to get things done and be efficient. We are very dedicated and hard-working, which helps achieve that efficiency. It is a unique combination of qualities."
Shoppers has a GTA workforce of almost 2,200 employees, located at its Central Office and related healthcare businesses. (This does not include more than 12,000 employees of the Toronto-based retail pharmacies, which are owned by franchisees.)
"The backgrounds we look for in those we hire are experience in retail operations, merchandising, analytics, data, marketing and finance," says Paraskevopoulos. "As Shoppers Drug Mart continues to enhance its Shoppers Optimum loyalty program, analytics is becoming a critical skill set."
Shoppers offers a full range of employee benefits, including a discount available on front-of-store purchases. Not far behind is the flexible health plan. It allows employees to customize coverage to suit their personal circumstances. "You have a set amount of flex dollars, and you assign them according to your needs," says Paraskevopoulos.
Becky Hong, Senior Director of Pharmacy Planning and Pricing, has been with Shoppers since 2008. She aligns her health plan options with her husband's company plan and tailors coverage to meet her family needs. "I have used the flex dollars to pay for dental expenses that were not covered by the dental plan."
To encourage professional development, Shoppers Drug Mart University offers 2,300 online courses as well as in-class training on such topics as leadership and change management. For high-potential staff, the company provides time off to attend an Advanced Leadership Program offered in partnership with York University's Schulich School of Business. "It's like a mini-MBA," says
Paraskevopoulos. "Shoppers has about five employees participate every year."
Hong, who has a director and a manager reporting to her, says the courses helped her become a better leader. "The company invested in me," she says. "It was open and supportive to my exploring different parts of the business. I was given the opportunity to move from finance to front store merchandising to pharmacy."
A key element of Shoppers' culture of caring is support for worthy causes, with a focus on women's health under the relaunched banner, Shoppers LOVE YOU. The company supports a number of women's health organizations including the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Look Good Feel Better, Women's College Hospital, Osteoporosis Canada and the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.
Each year, the company also encourages employees and customers to donate to more than 500 local women's health charities across the country. Employee participation in fundraising events is encouraged and helps to create engagement with the causes. For example, 20 per cent of participants in the Shoppers Love You Run for Women are Shoppers Drug Mart employees, pharmacist-owners and their store teams.
Shoppers also has an internal employee campaign called WISH - Working in Support of Hope - which, since its launch in 2003, has aided almost 300 colleagues facing difficult personal situations. Fundraisers such as ticket auctions and food drives are held throughout the year for WISH. "I haven't seen this type of program at another organization," says Paraskevopoulos.
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.