Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 6, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada / HIROC was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
- HIROC provides parental leave top-up payments for employees who are new mothers (to 90% of salary for up to 17 weeks) and recently expanded its top-up program to include fathers and adoptive parents (offering the same top-up as mothers)
- As part of the organization's health benefits plan, employees receive a health spending account of up to $500 per year, allowing them to top up coverage as needed
- HIROC offers referral bonuses as an incentive for employees to recruit candidates from their personal networks, to $1,000 per successful hire
Healthy dialogue and leaders' sharing help HIROC excel
When Catherine Gaulton took over as CEO of Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada (HIROC) nearly two years ago, she decided to meet with each of its roughly 100 employees one-on-one - a practice she is continuing on an annual basis.
"It's a way to communicate my thoughts and get their feedback," says Gaulton. "But more importantly, it's a way to tap into their intelligence about how we can excel as an organization, based on their direct contact with our clients. It's really grounded me on how totally committed our employees are to the kind of work we do."
A not-for-profit insurer, HIROC was founded in the 1980s when the hospitals, healthcare organizations and professional practice groups that would become its subscribers were unable to find reasonably priced insurance in the commercial marketplace. Today, HIROC is Canada's leading provider of healthcare liability insurance, with over 600 subscribers across the non-profit healthcare spectrum.
Employee engagement and open communication are key priorities for HIROC.
Michelle Holden, a communications and marketing specialist, works closely on employee engagement initiatives like MY HIROC, the company's award-winning, staff-focused digital community. Holden is impressed by the level of open dialogue and information-sharing she sees on the site.
"Staff share their stories and use the space to bring their questions and concerns to the fore," she says. "Another unique aspect is our leadership's voice. Our CEO and VPs regularly blog, not just about the business, but what they are doing outside of work. It really helps staff build stronger relationships with our senior leaders."
Information sharing also happens offline through the HIROC U program, where staff members are encouraged to put on classroom-style lessons in their areas of expertise, such as financial advice, insurance innovations or navigating social media.
Another recent experiment in transparency saw all staff participate in the DiSC (dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness) personality test and to share the results freely. The goal: to better understand each other's work and leadership styles and build more effective relationships.
Gaulton and other members of HIROC's leadership team even posted their DiSC profiles online, along with three things they felt it was important to know about their leadership styles.
"As just one example," says Gaulton, "everyone now knows that, while I'm impatient about getting to decisions and solutions, I actually value people who will sometimes slow me down. But that won't always be apparent in the moment."
HIROC has also encouraged candid discussion on the issue of mental health.
"We know mental health consistently tops workers' compensation stats for why people are not at work or are not being as effective and fulfilled at work as they could be," says Gaulton. "We've been proactive in providing training and assistance programs to deal with a common health issue that too often fails to get acknowledged."
This issue took on new resonance last April when a van driver deliberately targeted pedestrians just outside HIROC's North York offices, killing 10 people and injuring 16 others. Though no HIROC employees were injured, the company brought in experts to talk to staff about the incident's impact on them.
Observes Holden: "It meant everything to see our leadership step up and ask us what we needed. They encouraged us to express our concerns and anxieties."
HIROC continues to engage staff through charitable fundraising (often in support of one of its subscribers), social activities and by seeking input into a new strategic plan setting future priorities.
That latter effort is intended to build on HIROC's already impressive performance record. Gaulton says that annual surveys of subscribers report a 100 per cent client satisfaction rate. But to retain those high ratings, HIROC must continue to innovate and change with the times - a challenge she's confident employees can meet.
"The level of customer service we provide only happens when there's a team that is happy, healthy and involved in what they do every day. And that's exactly what we have."