Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Agriculture Financial Services Corporation / AFSC was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019), Top Employers for Canadians Over 40 (2019) and Alberta's Top Employers (2018) :
- AFSC actively seeks experienced adjusters for their knowledge (with the average age of adjusters being 50 years) -- the organization also helps employees prepare for life after work with tailored retirement planning courses, phased-in retirement work options and generous contributions to a defined benefit pension
- AFSC offers new employees 3 weeks of paid vacation to start as well as a credit of 5 additional vacation days during their first year of employment -- considers previous work experience when setting vacation entitlements for experienced candidates
- Additionally, AFSC supports employee efforts to balance work and their personal lives with a variety of flexible work arrangements and a special leave policy that provides employees with up to 10 paid days off each year for family care, bereavement, community service and personal wellness
Values and human connection define AFSC's approach to producers
Like many employees at Alberta's Agricultural Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), Kim Morrow comes from a farming background and understands well the unique challenges and rewards of being an agricultural producer. After many years as an Account Manager and frontline lender, she is now a Training Specialist based at the Crown corporation's head office in the central Alberta city of Lacombe. As such, she is helping to train the next generation of AFSC lenders who, in turn, will provide critical support to producers across the province.
"I'm able to share my experiences and the great sense of pride that comes with watching our agricultural clients grow and thrive," says Morrow. "We have the opportunity to go out and see our clients' operations, to get to know them and their families and become a trusted adviser. It's a really satisfying experience."
For eight decades, AFSC has provided agricultural producers with loans, crop insurance and farm disaster assistance. In an industry that is inherently risky, AFSC strives to help clients manage some of those risks.
With 44 branches across the province, AFSC also is very much a part of the community it serves.
"Our frontline staff spend a lot of time meeting one-to-one with farmers and other producers where they live and work," says Karla Kochan, Vice President, Human Resources and Communications. "There aren't a lot of industries where that's the case anymore. So much now is done online or on your phone that we've lost a bit of that human connection. We try to make that a priority, not just with clients, but in the way we engage our employees."
It starts at the recruitment stage, where the primary focus is on what Kochan calls "fit and values."
"We have five core values -- accountability, trust, integrity, respect and excellence. We want to hire people who embody those values. So our interview process is designed to find employees who will live those values in the way they deal with each other and with our clients."
Not all new recruits come from a farming background, so AFSC provides a primer. "New employees take part in a Farming 101 onboarding program," says Kochan. "We provide in-house training about different sectors of agriculture and then we actually take them out to see producers. Last year, that included visiting an auction market, a vegetable-growing operation and a small craft brewery."
Once onboarded, career development is a top priority. In a process known as "PATH check," employees meet on a quarterly basis with their supervisors to discuss career aspirations and the kind of education or training support required to reach those goals.
"It's all about having open and honest conversations," says Kochan. "We want to ensure our team members remain challenged and motivated and are getting the support they need to thrive."
In addition to competitive pay and comprehensive benefits (including a defined benefit pension plan and a health spending account), AFSC strives to provide a work-life balance through flexible work hours and telecommuting. Employees are also encouraged to give back to the community, including having one paid day off annually to volunteer on behalf of an initiative of their choosing.
For longtime employees like Morrow, who has over 35 years of service, AFSC's core values and commitment to community are a big part of the attraction.
"AFSC's values are the same as the ones I try to live by in my personal life," says Morrow. "We all want to do our best to serve our clients, but it's also nice to know we are part of a company that truly cares about the people who work here."