Recognized as one of Montreal's Top Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 31, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Merck Canada Inc. was selected as one of Montreal's Top Employers (2018):
- Merck Canada encourages employees to make health and personal wellness a priority through its LIVE IT wellness program, which focuses on fitness, nutrition, stress management and prevention initiatives -- the company also employs a full-time Wellness Lead
- Merck Canada offers excellent family-friendly benefits, from maternity and parental leave top-up payments for new mothers, fathers and adoptive parents (to 100% of salary for up to 14 weeks) to the option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence -- employees working at the company's head office can also take advantage of onsite daycare when they return
- Merck Canada's head office is certified LEED Silver and was designed with employee feedback in mind -- the workplace features a marché-style cafeteria (with subsidized and take-home meals), themed relaxation rooms, and free access to a shared-use fitness facility, with state-of-the-art exercise equipment and a number of instructor-led classes such as spinning, yoga and belly dancing
At Merck, wellness starts at the office
At Merck Canada, one key corporate goal is definitely counter-intuitive. The leading pharmaceutical manufacturer would rather you didn't have to buy any of its life-enhancing products. That's because health and wellness are the company's prime objective -- and that means, especially for its employees, becoming and staying fit.
To that end, Merck has developed an award-winning Live It wellness program that provides its field and head-office employees with the fitness, nutritional and other tools necessary to promote healthy lifestyles. "Saving and improving lives starts with employees," says Sam Gourdji, Vice President, Commercial Operations. "Healthy individuals are also happier and more productive. And if you are not healthy, happy and having fun, why bother going to work?"
To help its employees achieve fitness goals, the company's LEED-certified Kirkland, West Island head office has a state-of-the-art fitness facility open 24/7, 365 days a year. "Staff are encouraged to use the gym at any time, including during normal working hours," Gourdji says.
Other wellness initiatives include a subsidized healthy-foods cafeteria, free fitness and yoga classes, and nutritional, among other, counselling sessions. Staff can also volunteer for annual biometric testing of vital health indicators. "In recent years, we have seen significant progress in lowering markers such as blood pressure and cholesterol," says Gourdji. "The more you exercise, the less you need our meds."
However, should employees require Merck products, they don't have to pay for them. The 100-per-cent prescription drug coverage plan does not require a deductible and is unlimited, part of a very generous overall health benefits package. Even retirees are covered.
Stressing wellness is only one way Merck creates employee loyalty that pays off in an impressively low 2.5-per-cent turnover rate. "Our compensation is fantastic," says Peter Giakoumatos, Associate Director, Strategic Pricing and Contracting. "Our salaries are very good, but we also get generous bonuses and other recognition."
Such recognition can include financial rewards for work well done or being singled out for praise in company-wide award programs. Employees are also encouraged to give back to the community -- they can volunteer for up to 40 hours on company time. And if they need to leave the office for personal matters such as their own or family's medical appointments, they have 10 days for that purpose.
"Merck realizes its people are its most important asset and that it takes more than salary to keep them happy," says Giakoumatos. "And if you're not happy, then the great fitness facility and other benefits are simply not relevant."