How This ‘People-First’ Firm Makes Employees Feel Like They Matter and Everyone Knows Their Name

Sponsored by RBC Wealth Management

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Fairygodboss
April 17, 2024 at 9:11AM UTC

At large companies, it’s common for employees to feel like “just a number” or a “cog in the wheel.”

But at RBC Wealth Management-U.S., that’s not the experience at all. In fact, it’s far more likely that your manager knows your favorite food, the Head of Culture remembers that you are more of a cat than a dog person and the President of the firm addresses you by name – because he knows it.

This people-first mindset is core to RBC Wealth Management’s culture and is a key part of why the company is known in the industry as a firm with big-company resources and a small-firm feel.

It’s also what drives the firm to seek out employees from diverse and complex backgrounds who can help bring unique perspectives to the work they do and go the extra mile to support those employees, helping them grow both personally and professionally. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at RBC Wealth Management’s culture and benefits, and detail how the firm goes above and beyond in supporting employees.

Leadership that cares and understands.

Among the things that stand out at RBC Wealth Management, authentic leadership is near the top.

“At RBC Wealth Management, we believe in a supportive culture where leaders are encouraged to acknowledge that they are human, too, and have lives outside of the office,” says Shareen Luze, Head of Culture and Field Experience at the firm. “We encourage the kind of conversations that go beyond pleasantries and focus on making real connections to create a workplace where employees feel respected and valued.”

Lisa Austin, First Vice President and Wealth Advisor at the firm says, “At RBC Wealth Management, leaders know your name; they know who you are. You matter.”

This level of personal connection helps fuel genuine conversation not only among peers – but between leaders, managers and employees.

“There’s a lot of opportunity that comes from creating genuine connections at work, where we spend so much of our day,” Luze says.

In fact, these genuine conversations have helped spark new benefits and employee-support programs, notes Luze. They’ve also helped alert leaders to potential issues and have helped change the firm’s direction and policies for the better.

Benefits created with employees in mind

RBC Wealth Management’s people-centric culture drove the firm’s decisions and actions during the pandemic. 

After hearing from parents of school-aged children who were struggling to balance their day jobs with the new demands of distance learning, the firm rolled out paid school closure leave. This unique benefit helped parents focus on helping their children transition to a new mode of learning and succeed without worrying about the pressures of work. The leave started at 10 days of paid time off and was extended to 20.

Recognizing the general stress and strain the pandemic put on all employees, the firm also enhanced its mental health resources and benefits. Today, RBC Wealth Management offers several programs, including free, confidential counseling and coaching services for employees and their family members who may be experiencing stress, depression and other mental health concerns. Employees can receive personal support by phone or video-conference — without leaving their homes. Employees also received a free year-long subscription to the Headspace meditation app. 

RBC Wealth Management also expanded benefits that provide access to virtual medical care and temporarily provided no-cost visits (no co-pays or co-insurance) and even offered special compensation for workers required to be onsite during the early days of the pandemic.

While the pandemic certainly called for out-of-the-box, creative solutions, it wasn’t the first time the company created unique new perks and resources for its people.

Over the years, RBC Wealth Management has expanded its suite of benefits to include:

  • No-cost access to gyms, fitness centers and online fitness classes.

  • Access to  second opinions on medical diagnosis and treatment plans — for themselves or their dependents. 

  • The option to equalize the cost of domestic partner health premiums (which are taxed by the IRS) and coverage for spouses (which can be paid pre-tax). RBC Wealth Management provides a payment to employees in December of each year to cover the cost of taxes that they were required to pay on health care premiums for a domestic partner (and DP’s children).

In regards to parents specifically, the firm recognizes how crucial it is for parents to have flexibility and has added the following benefits:

  • Support for nursing mothers — A service called Milk Stork provides pre-labeled and postage-paid cooler kits to safely ship or carry breast milk from domestic and international destinations.

  • Fully paid parental and caregiver leave — RBC Wealth Management offers 11 weeks of paid maternity leave, far more than the standard six or eight weeks. The firm also offers four weeks of paid leave in addition to standard paid time off to care for an immediate family member who is ill or injured. 

  • Back-up child and adult/elder care — When an employee’s regular caregiver is unavailable, they can take advantage of high-quality back-up care at local care centers or in-home care. RBC Wealth Management subsidizes the cost of this back-up care.

  • Maternity and family resources — This includes Ovia Health mobile apps for fertility tracking, pregnancy health and parenting support.

  • Fertility benefits — Employees have access to a $20,000 lifetime maximum benefit toward certain costs related to fertility treatment and medication, with one egg freezing cycle per lifetime and one year of storage fees. Additional fertility resources include WINFertility, which provides support through every step of the fertility journey, including understanding testing, treatment, reproductive benefits and choosing a provider.

“As an employer, we are committed to supporting our people 24/7, not just 9-to-5,” says Luze. “Whether that means offering greater flexibility or a wider range of benefits, we want to empower everyone to bring their full, authentic selves to work."

Opportunities for growth and learning.

As critical as benefits are, leaders recognize that in order to truly support employees, companies must also invest in their growth. That’s particularly true with women and employees of color. 

The wealth management industry is made up of less than 20 percent female advisors. While recruiting more women to the industry is key, ensuring they feel welcome and included is as well. RBC boasts more than 10 different employee resource groups (ERGs) globally that support female employees.

“The mission of these groups is to help women at our company build networks of support and achieve their career development goals,” says Luze. “ERGs are a big part of the firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion because ideally, our workforce would look like the general population.” 

The Women’s Association of Financial Advisors (WAFA), which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2021, is one of these groups. WAFA supports the recruitment, retention and promotion of women in financial advisor and branch leadership roles. The group also offers a mentorship program for new advisors and female advisors who are new to the firm.

RBC Wealth Management also offers a Women in Leadership signature leadership development program, which helps:

  • Increase the overall representation of women in senior leadership at RBC Wealth Management.

  • Empower women to deepen their business acumen.

  • Broaden communication and strategic influencing skills.

  • Refine leadership brand.

  • Increase network exposure to senior leadership across the organization.

More recently, the firm added Women Empowered (WE) to its list of ERGs. WE, which is open to both women and male allies, includes over 800 members. With so many members impacted by the killing of George Floyd, the group also launched collaborations with other employee resource groups to shine a light on the intersectionality of being a woman and a person of color.

“It’s wonderful to see our ERGs go beyond supporting their own members, but reaching into other groups to show support and understanding as well,” says Luze. “I guess it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise, because that’s exactly the sort of thing our culture is intended to encourage.”

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