Canada Life starts bringing workers back

Company gives 2 extra vacation days as thank you to employees before return to office

Canada Life starts bringing workers back
The Canada Life building in downtown Toronto.

Canada Life Insurance Company has decided it will be taking a phased approach in moving people back into the office after the Canada Day long weekend.

The 11,000-employee company will gradually increase the number of staff returning, beginning with those who can do their jobs best on-site. Currently, more than 95 per cent of its workforce is working from home. By the end of October, about 25 per cent of employees will potentially be back in the office

Employees will be rewarded two paid days off on July 2 and 3 to help ensure they have “a chance to refresh.”

“Three months ago, we asked our employees to be flexible, adaptable, creative and resilient in the face of great change, disruption and uncertainty. We are so proud everyone rose to the challenge, as we knew they would, so we could continue to be there for our customers, advisors and each other every day,” says Jeff Macoun, president and CEO of Canada Life. “Canada Life Days are just one way we can thank our employees and help ensure their mental health is a priority.”

From home to office
The company has been successful with the work-from-home scheme because it had already laid the groundwork for the setup before the pandemic, says Cathy Weaver, senior-vice president of human resources at Canada Life.

"We had invested in technology, developed flex work policies, and were ready to turn the challenge of COVID-19 into an opportunity to accelerate change, so we can be confident the majority of our employees will be able to continue working from home for the foreseeable future," she says. "This is important because as a major employer across Canada, we believe communities are best served by keeping employees out of the office, particularly in reducing the stress on transit systems in major metropolitan centres."

The company will also implement new standard protocols in the office focused on physical distancing while also providing employees with reusable masks. All team meetings will also continue to be conducted online through the summer and travel restrictions will remain in place.

“Our goals are to keep employees and their families safe, and to keep our business moving forward and growing for our advisors and customers. We’ve created new ways of working that will be part of our lives long after COVID-19 has gone,” says Weaver.

Three-quarters (74 per cent) of employees feel that non-compliant workers should face consequences if they’re not obeying COVID-19 related safety measures at work, according to a separate study from O.C. Tanner.

Almost nine in 10 (86 per cent) employers say they have started to plan for employees to return to work, and 53 per cent expect to have all of their staff back in the primary workplace within six months, finds a survey by the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) in Ontario earlier this month.

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