a Healthy Workplace: Invest in People -the Work/Life
RBC Financial Group
Healthy Workplace Awards Luncheon
May 15, 2002
Thank you for the warm introduction Bob
Her Worship Sylvia Sutherland, ladies and gentlemen:
It's a great pleasure to be back in Peterborough - a city
with dynamic leadership, a healthy economy, outstanding
post-secondary institutions, impressive local/global markets,
a skilled workforce and an unparalleled reputation for quality
of life. As Jim Potts and some of you know, my family and
I have a cottage at Jack's Lake, so we're summer residents
and frequent visitors in the Kawartha Lakes area and just
love it here.
This city really has it all - no wonder the Greater Peterborough
Area Economic Development Corporation's tag line, "it's
a natural" sticks! No wonder, your MPP, Gary Stewart
and Member of Parliament, Peter Adams boast about the city's
diversity and opportunities every chance they get. And no
wonder we only need to watch the likes of Mayor Sylvia Sutherland,
Bob McGillen, Brian Fitzgerald, Bonnie Patterson, Martin
Wormald, Peter McLean, Bob Allison, Len Lifchus, Gail Courneyea,
Sheila Olan-Maclean, Joanne Tully, Andrew Roy, Laura McLean,
Joe/Lena Steinfeld, Kathy Pyle, Susan Cudahy and Dan McWilliams
(2001 citizen of the year) to see leadership in action.
RBC Financial Group is also proud of Peterborough's achievements
and impressed with plans for the future
pleased that our own Paul-Harris Lowe plays a key role in
the GPA EDC and that our local team is involved in promoting
Speaking of leadership
to Kerri Davies of Royal Gardens,
Francine Piché of Siemens Milltronics and your colleagues
both here and at work, you and your teams have made an impressive
contribution to the "healthy workplace" - you've
truly earned the award/recognition as a pacesetter and role
model in the community. When it comes to a healthy workplace,
we all have a lot to learn and gain by sharing ideas/success
stories at events like this and at the Roundtable this morning.
Not only do I thank David Fell for inviting me to join you
today, I want to acknowledge the Peterborough County-City
Health Unit, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and Hearts
Alive Peterborough for presenting the first annual Healthy
Workplace Awards. I hope this is the first of many annual
events in the years ahead!
To begin my remarks about the healthy workplace - investing
in people, I want to share a story with you that in its
original format was discovered on what's known as "Mark's
workplace" web site. I'm taking some creative licence
in telling the story
"A woman by the name of Catherine Courage was appointed
the new CEO of a large corporation. She and the outgoing
President, who was also her mentor, met privately on his
last day and he gave her three numbered envelopes. "Open
these if you run up against a problem you don't think you
can fix," he said. Initially, things went along pretty
smoothly, but six months later, sales took a nosedive and
the new CEO was catching a lot of heat from the board. Catherine
remembered the envelopes. She went to her desk drawer and
took out the first one. The message read, "Invest in
Catherine and her executive team had a few "meetings
of the mind" and decided to conduct an employee survey
as well as lead employee roundtables across the country.
The feedback proved to be an eye-opener, with a common thread
about enriching the workplace environment. The team developed
and implemented an employee program
sales picked up
in about six months.
A year later, the company experienced a significant drop
in its bottom line. Having learned from her previous experience,
Catherine quickly opened the second envelope. The message
read, "Invest in your people". She and her team
modified and enhanced various employee programs
a few months the company rebounded again.
After two consecutive profitable quarters, the company
fell victim to sluggish sales yet again. Catherine went
to her office, closed the door and opened the third envelope.
The message said, "Invest in your people
never a done deal". Catherine had a "light bulb"
we should never stop learning, never stop improving
and never stop measuring results. Perhaps we all need a
gentle reminder from time to time (another envelope as the
case may be) to put people first, avoid complacency and
ensure competing priorities don't get in the way of goals
and action plans.
At RBC, a healthy workplace is part of our bigger picture
vision - a holistic approach. As our CEO, Gord Nixon says,
"We believe that our success as a company is intrinsically
connected to the economic and social well-being of our community
and our country. To us, behaving in a socially responsible
manner is not just something we want to do. It's something
we know we must do as an essential part of our relationships
with our customers/stakeholders and as a strategic investment
in the future prosperity of a civic society
that by contributing our funds, our network, our leadership
and, most importantly, by encouraging and celebrating the
involvement of our people, we can make a difference in helping
to build a strong, healthy society".
Being socially responsible starts right in our own backyard,
where supporting our people makes the difference in promoting
and sustaining a healthy workplace and healthy communities.
We're strongly committed to investing in our people
only by offering competitive compensation and benefits -
but by investing in learning and education - by fostering
a work environment that values communication - and by supporting
diversity as well as Work/Life initiatives.
At RBC, Work/Life is a formal series of policies, programs,
resources and benefits for our employees, designed to help
people manage work, family and personal responsibilities
over a lifetime, while meeting business objectives. We also
continue to develop creative ways of looking at where, when
and how work is done - to offer choices and customized solutions.
RBC is always learning and evolving with Work/Life initiatives.
We're in the business of building business
and it begins
with the way we care for and treat our people. People are
our most valuable asset. Technology and financial products/services
can be copied, bank rates can be matched
and the list
goes on. So what's left? The one sustainable advantage over
our competition is what's left - the best people in the
business. And to have the "top talent" on our
team and on your teams - to be an "employer of choice"
- we must utilize innovative approaches that attract, engage
and keep people.
This is why Work/Life initiatives support our business
strategy. They help RBC: respond to the ever-changing nature
of the workforce/workplace, recruit and retain employees,
increase individual and organizational effectiveness, leverage
diversity, reduce stress and short-term absenteeism, as
well as gain a competitive advantage.
Let's not forget that major shifts in worker demographics,
the shrinking pool of skilled labour, the changing face
of the family and varying employee expectations continue
to reshape the culture of Canadian corporations. We're now
operating in the most diverse marketplace, with the most
diverse workforce we've ever seen.
There's a growing need to support all employees in reaching
their full potential. The most successful companies and
organizations down the road will be those who best adapt
to the realities of today - those who plan for the future
today. The replacement cost of "top talent" is
The research tells the story
- 50% of Canadians experience a moderate to high level
of stress balancing work/life compared to 27% in 1989
(Conference Board, 1999);
- Canadians who have a hard time juggling work/life are
costing employers at least $2.7 billion a year in lost
time due to stress, medical leaves & absences;
- Companies are paying an enormous price in absenteeism,
lost productivity, health care costs;
- Stress-related disorders due to overwork cost Canadian
$12 billion per year. (Health Canada, 1998).
In 1999, AON Consulting Canada conducted a work-study (in
partnership with RBC) that examined how Canadians are dealing
with the competing demands of work, family and life. It
- Acknowledgment of people's needs outside of work is
the key driver to employee commitment - outranking compensation,
benefits, training, job growth; this acknowledgement costs
companies almost nothing and the payback can be enormous
in terms of improved employee morale;
- Employers who help workers manage work and personal
needs will not only retain more of their workforce but
also attract new recruits looking for companies with a
"people first agenda," such as progressive work/life
initiatives and pay-for-performance incentives.
The impact of doing nothing about work/life issues hurts
the bottom line and activates undue stress. It affects people,
business and communities. Having a work environment and
boss that values an integrated approach to life is key.
For employees it means not having to feel guilty because
they've left the office a little early to pick up the kids
from daycare or visit an ill parent. "Workforce commitment
replaces loyalty as a desired workforce behaviour".
And one size doesn't fit all
we must tailor our programs
to each employee/circumstance. Doing the right thing for
our people is doing the right thing for our business.
This is the business case for Work/Life
also a common sense case to be made. Every day, a Work/Life
approach helps a mother spend more time with her child,
grants a father special family responsibility leave, assists
someone with a personal problem, identifies eldercare services
for an aging parent or allows someone to manage multiple
responsibilities at work, at home and in the community.
Our Work/Life initiatives have advanced since we introduced
the original Work and Family program in 1990. From leave
policies, dependent care services, flexible work arrangements,
wellness and education/relocation assistance, to financial/retirement
planning, community partnerships and partner promotions,
we offer a comprehensive array of tools and choices.
Here are three examples of RBC Work/Life initiatives in Peterborough
and across the country - initiatives that help build healthier
workplaces and communities:
1. Dependent Care Information Services
& Resources. Our Dependent Care Services consist
of professional consultants who provide confidential, personalized
telephone counselling, individualized searches/referrals and
educational materials to employees searching for quality childcare
and eldercare resources in their own communities, or in other
parts of the country. Through the RBC EmployeeCare program,
LifeWorks OneSource, employees can access programs such as:
parenting and childcare, resources for seniors - eldercare,
disability and accessibility. A number of staff have used
the service to help cope with the loss of a loved one, to
help with kids and teen issues or to find out what services
are available for someone with a disability.
2. Flexible Work Arrangements. We experiment with
various work arrangements that are in the best interest
of employees, RBC and our customers. Working together with
our people to develop and accommodate requests, while supporting
professional development and career opportunities is important
to us. Reduced hours, job sharing, flextime, flexi-place
(including working off-site or at home) and phased retirement,
are all options that help create win/win scenarios.
As one employee in Peterborough said, "the best part
of job-sharing is the flexibility - it allows me the opportunity
to put more effort into my job, and I can honestly say that
I am a much happier employee with this arrangement".
With more than 1000 job-sharing situations in place, managers
from coast to coast are finding that the teams tend to be
very productive. People have a personal stake in ensuring
the job sharing arrangement works. In many cases, customers
also tell us that they're receiving better service because
two people are familiar with their account/business.
3. Wellness and Employee and Family Assistance Programs.
Not only does Peterborough staff utilize RBC services such
as health/safety training and confidential/professional
consultations on work/life issues, they've developed wellness
initiatives of their own. The flu vaccine clinic is a marvelous
it started two years ago when the Peterborough
County City Health Centre advertised that a nurse would
provide flu vaccines to staff/spouses in the workplace.
A member of our staff (who is a diabetic) needs an annual
flu vaccine so she encouraged the setting up of a clinic
for her RBC colleagues. This year's clinic had two nurses
and all four Peterborough branches, the Business Banking
Centre and our Lakefield branch participated. This is just
one of several initiatives established by our staff who
walk the talk when it comes to a healthy workplace
And community partnerships are important too. Whether
it's our After-School grants, employee volunteer programs
or business/education projects, community leadership plays
a major role at RBC. As Kate Kincaid and others know, RBC's
Rick Letford is involved with the St. Joseph's at Fleming
partnership campaign - for the new long-term care facility
at Sir Sandford Fleming College. And as co-chair of Trent
University's Friends of Native Studies Council, I have an
opportunity to work with amazing partners (including recent
Woman of Distinction award recipient Susan Mackle) to help
make a difference in the futures of aboriginal youth. Through
Ontario's SuperBuild funding, Trent and Fleming have developed
a high-speed information technology link between the two
institutions, making it possible to access facilities and
research databases at both schools. I can imagine Peter
Gzowski smiling about this partnership right now!
At this time, I'd like to acknowledge the students from
Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College who are
here today - my colleagues and I wish you success in your
studies and career choices. My hunch is that a healthy workplace
environment will be on many lists of "must haves"!
From the very beginning, we knew that the success of Work/Life
depended on how well it was developed, communicated, managed
and measured. The same remains true today. Although we know
that on any given day, approximately 30%-40% of our employee
population uses a component of our Work/Life initiatives,
we also know that effective communication, changing economic
times, dependent care issues as well as shifts in values
and work expectations are ongoing challenges. We don't pretend
to have all the answers, however we subscribe to continuous
learning and improvement. Visible senior leadership and
supportive managers are essential, as well as employee ownership
of the tools at their disposal.
In Peterborough/Kawartha Lakeshore, our employees understand
what ownership is all about
members of our team (many
of whom you know) can tell you much more about our Work/Life
programs - what a healthy workplace means to them and to
RBC. To Darrel Revoy, Rick Letford, Ian MacNeill, Shelly
Storace, Cathy Jordan, Cheryl Kelly, Ken Smith and a host
of others whom I'll touch base with personally, thank you
for your leadership at RBC and in the community. A special
hello and thanks to John McMillan, a former Royal Banker,
who has also joined us today.
We've developed an Intranet web site for staff that
outlines the different components of Work/Life and how our
people can benefit from the variety of programs. Because
of time limitations, I've only mentioned some of our initiatives
today. If you're interested in finding out more about our
Work/Life tools, please check out the Community Report 2001
(also found in branches) and Careers/Total Rewards on our
web site, www.rbc.com,
by clicking on the links, Community Centre and Careers@RBC.
Initiatives like Work/Life are not trendy
here to stay. However, we need to consistently monitor our
programs to ensure objectives are being met. It's critical
to adapt and improve as we move along. We're also watching
what other companies are doing, and we're piloting some
innovative programs of our own. There are many success stories
and best practices in this room (too many people and projects
the proposed Peterborough Sports and Wellness
Centre and this month's launch of the City's Youth web site
(it's never too early to learn about healthy communities,
as I'm sure our friends from the city's Early Years Centres
would agree) are examples of leadership in motion and leadership
RBC has come a long way
fifteen years ago we were
mere toddlers in regard to work and family. Today, we're
well into the young adult stage of development. We've gone
from being reactive and active, to proactive and now interactive
- we're coming of age! We know it's more about what we do,
rather than how much we do.
We also know that some people still have a hard time understanding
why Work/Life is important. It takes time to change this
thinking - change cultures. Some argue that with today's
business environment, the need to control costs is reason
enough for not doing it. But there's more to Work/Life.
It's not a short-term fix. It's really a long-term commitment
- incorporating a solid, fundamental business strategy
you have quality people/teams that can help you maximize
People often ask how we measure the bottom line payback
of something like Work/Life. Although we have measurement
tools in place for some programs, it's often difficult to
attach a specific dollars and cents value to everything
But I believe the real cost will be felt by those companies
that don't incorporate this type of philosophy and approach.
One day they'll discover that they're no longer attracting
the "top talent". By then it will be too late.
I also believe that Work/Life affects the bottom line by
helping us improve the quality of service we provide customers.
Some people may disagree, however it makes sense to me:
if you treat your employees well, create an environment
where the needs of individuals are respected, where people
care for and help each other, it's going to be reflected
in the way employees serve their customers.
RBC Financial Group is committed to staying on the leading
edge of trends in the workplace. Partnering with leading
Canadian survey/research companies and academia has a two-fold
result. RBC has access to the information we need to remain
leaders in people management and we also contribute to the
body of workplace knowledge - assisting other companies
and organizations in developing the Canadian healthy workplace/workforce
- today and in the future. There's still much to be accomplished
on RBC's Work/Life journey
our prescription for a healthy
workplace is a work-in-progress.
Again, congratulations to Royal Gardens and Siemens Milltronics
for leading the way
and special thanks to David Fell
and Jenny Leahy for coordinating this event - what a fabulous
It's clear that an increasing number of employers are recognizing
and reaping the rewards of investing in people through innovative
workplace programs - programs that also put more humour
and humanity into the workplace. For RBC Financial Group,
Work/Life is an investment that has far-reaching benefits,
not only for employees, businesses and customers, but also
for our children, the elderly, and the community as a whole.
What better return could we ask for? And should you need
a gentle reminder about the value of your investment in
people, remember the story about the three envelopes!