'Our people are the secret to our ultimate success'

Fidelity Canada's senior vice-president of HR on why her people's commitment to excellence makes their organization thrive

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Stephanie: [00:00:19] Hi, everyone. I'm Stephanie Matteis. And I'm joined today by Diana Godfrey, the senior vice president of Human Resources and corporate affairs at Fidelity Canada. Welcome, Diana.

Diana: [00:00:28] Thank you. 

Stephanie: [00:00:29] Fidelity has won one of the best places to work in HRD's recent survey. Congratulations. Can you tell me some of your secrets? 

Diana: [00:00:40] Pretty simple. It's our people, for sure. And I know it sounds really cliche, but the reality is our team is committed to our clients, to each other, to the organization, and importantly, to the communities that we live and work in. And so our culture is shaped by everything that they do. And I think that's really what sets us apart. 

Stephanie: [00:01:04] And speaking of culture, looking back at the past year, what are some of the areas of employee experience that you've really been focusing on? 

Diana: [00:01:12] So it's been a very different journey than we're accustomed to working virtually and trying to do that. And so what we've worked really hard at is articulating the employee experience. I think we've always had it, but we haven't articulated it in a way that in a way that reaches everybody. And so we're currently developing an Employee Ambassadors program which will help us do that because who better to tell the story than the employees? But we focused on a lot of different things. I think the pandemic and working from home maybe fast forwarded some of the things that we would have done and slowed down some other things. But looking at flexibility, wellness, how do you have fun when everybody's not together? How do you have fun remotely? How do you change your development program from one that has focused on in-person experiences to one that recognizes hybrid experiences, remote experiences, making sure everybody understands that development doesn't have to be a new job. It can be a new experience, leadership committee work, going on a training program, getting a new role, temporarily taking a new role. We redeployed people that would typically have worked in the office whose work couldn't be done remotely, and we redeployed them. And so they took on different roles temporarily. Some have stayed there. So I think when we talk about the employee experience, it's a very holistic thing and trying to find a way to share it with everybody. 

Stephanie: [00:02:54] You touched on the pandemic there. Were there any kind of standout lessons from that? 

Diana: [00:02:59] Yeah, I would say this is the way I like to describe it. The unintended positive consequence of COVID was we discovered we're quite capable of remote work. And so I would say up until the pandemic, we had a group of employees that worked remotely and we had a flexible program that allowed people to apply. But I don't think we had confidence in ourselves and our ability to manage employees that way, to give them what they needed to be successful. And we had to sort of fast forward. We had a key group of about 25 or 30 people who had to work in the office, but everybody else went remote. So I would say that would be the first thing that we learned very quickly. And then we had to learn how to build relationships remotely. We grew through the pandemic. We had some turnover, but we also grew. How do you bring those people in successfully? How do you make them part of the culture feel included? We had to work really hard at that and I think what we learned and I think we knew it but we didn't really digest it, was our employees had a lot to juggle. And then of course, through the pandemic, having their kids home, trying to school, we learned the value of flexibility there too, and the importance of giving them as much time as they could. So we introduced programs like Online Health, so they didn't have to go to the doctor's office all the time. We introduced a program that delivered pharmaceuticals to the home so they didn't have to get out to the pharmacy. We welcomed kids onto the screen to say, Hi, I got to meet all my team's kids. What used to be you're working at home, we can't see anything became can I see your dog? Can I see your cat? Can I see your kids? We learned compassion and empathy in a way that we maybe didn't have before. And compassion is one of our underlying behaviors under our values. This demonstrated it. And then I'd say, practically speaking, we also understood that we relied way too much on paper and found a way to do away with paper, and that will never come back. So I think there were a lot of different things, but I think the most important pieces were around flexibility, compassion, inclusion. 

Stephanie: [00:05:27] Looking ahead, I think we can all agree that 2023 is going to be vastly different to 2022. What types of initiatives do you have that's going to help your people thrive? 

Diana: [00:05:37] Well, first of all, we've agreed we're not going back to the way things were. Right now, our employees are back in the office on a voluntary basis, so they come in as little or as much as they want. Our plan is come mid-September, beginning of October, we've asked people to come back, but with flexibility. And I think we have to ensure if we're asking them to come back, we need to ensure that their office experience is meaningful so they don't come back to the office to do what they would do at home and just have to commute to do it. So it's not about coming to the office and zooming all day. It's about collaboration, networking, meaningful experiences that enrich their employment experience and enrich our culture, quite frankly. And so we're going to have to work really hard at that. And so that means in some cases, creating those experiences. So we're having to be creative and look for new ways to do things. I think the other thing is I mentioned through the pandemic, we learned a lot. One of the things we learned is that and I think we all knew this mental health is very important. And fortunately for us, we knew that going into the pandemic, but we knew it became even more important. So we want to continue to focus our efforts on wellness, particularly around mental health. Removing the stigma. Encouraging conversations. We've created a peer network of mental health first aid responders, which is a peer group where people can go not to have problems resolved, but to find resources that are available. So it's a safe environment. You know, we're focusing because we're focusing on wellness through the pandemic and moving forward. We've changed the way we look at our practitioners. We've broadened the list of practitioners that can be used for services, and we've increased coverage five fold. The other thing is university and college kids are in school longer. Some of them were delayed because of the pandemic. Remote working wasn't for them. We'd increased the age of coverage for our employees children who are still in post-secondary institutions. So I think the reality is it's all around wellness. It's all about making everybody's lives easier and remembering that at the heart of everything that we do is what our employees do for us and for our clients. So we're really focusing that. 

Stephanie: [00:08:22] That's fantastic. I think this award is extremely well deserved. So congratulations again, Diana, and thank you for joining me. 

Diana: [00:08:30] It was my pleasure. Thank you very much. 

Stephanie: [00:08:33] And thank all of you for joining us on HRDTV.