Every month, Jobboom profiles an employer that is a leader in their industry to shed some light on the business cultures, staffing needs and recruitment methods of top organizations. This month we look at SSQ Financial Group.
SSQ Financial Group is one of Canada’s most important financial institutions. With over 1 million clients and some 2000 employees located in offices in Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Halifax, SSQ has positioned itself as an industry leader in the group insurance market and is active in investment, retirement, damage insurance and individual insurance.
We sat down for an interview with Martin Robert, Senior Director, HR Partner at SSQ Financial Group.
JOBBM What are the main types of employment available at SSQ Financial Group?
Martin Robert Around half of our employees work in sales and customer service, including our sales representatives and damage insurance agents. Many of our customer service positions are strictly focused on providing consultations, including our call center positions, disability management positions and adjusters.
We also have technical and professional departments, including actuarial, marketing and communications, human resources, IT and finance, as well as management positions.
What are your primary workforce needs at the moment?
M.R. One of the main issues we are currently dealing with is our rapid rate of growth. We have significant workforce needs, but qualified candidates are difficult to find. This is especially the case for permit holders (such as damage insurance agents), who graduate from school in limited numbers. It’s also the situation for skilled positions where specific training or experience is required, including underwriters and disability management positions.
It’s a similar situation for actuarial, management and IT positions: there are a limited number of candidates entering the market each year and companies from many sectors are targeting them. Besides that, finding bilingual talent is always a challenge for us – it is an essential skill for many positions in our company.
What are the main qualities you look for in an employee?
M.R. When I look at a CV, I want to be able to fully understand the career path and professional history of a candidate. I want to see that their experience is a reflection of their personal competencies. During the interview we certainly want to verify a candidate’s skills, but also to be sure that the person will be happy with our company. This is why we try to get to know the candidate on a personal level, to see if there is an alignment with our company values, particularly social engagement, mutualism, openness, integrity, competence and respect. These values guide our daily actions, and as a result also have a major influence on recruitment.
What makes your employees appreciate working at SSQ?
M.R. The first word that comes to mind is coherence. There is coherence between the experience described by our clients, our business partners and our employees. This coherence is directly linked to the roots of our organization, which grew from a management style that is based on mutuality. For us, the company has to be in service of the human. You can see this philosophy at work in our excellent customer service but also in the programs and activities that we provide for our employees, including our health and wellness program, contributions to social causes, our recognition programs and other policies.
The company’s roots are also reflected in the overall compensation we provide for employees. We are known for offering benefits and working conditions that are inspired by our values, whether in terms of work-life balance or financial security. We offer group insurance benefits, a defined retirement benefit plan, and other benefits.
What kinds of professional development opportunities to you offer to your employees?
M.R. Career growth at SSQ can happen in one of two ways: Horizontally or vertically. There are enormous opportunities for lateral movement within the organization, and around 80 percent of our positions are filled internally.
During annual evaluations, we ask employees if they are happy in their current positions or if they would like to take on new challenges within the company. We have training plans available to help employees achieve any new objectives they want to set for themselves. We also provide resources for our new managers, including work accompaniments and diverse tools that will help them adapt to their new role.
For several years, we have also included employees from all levels in new and interesting projects, particularly projects that integrate the use of new technologies. For example, an employee could decide to stay in their role as an adjuster, but participate in a project that is on the periphery of their job. In this way, the employee is empowered to seek out new knowledge and experiences while collaborating with people from different sectors, all without taking the risk associated with changing positions.
How would you describe the work atmosphere at SSQ Financial Group?
M.R. We poll our employees regularly to get a sense of the working climate at our offices. Positive elements often cited by employees include the values and leadership demonstrated by upper management, a real sentiment of belonging and pride to be working at SSQ, positive relationships between co-workers, as well as the fact that employees’ skills are applied where they can have the most impact – all of these factors reinforce employees’ strong feelings of contribution to our organization.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to work at SSQ Financial Group?
M.R. Above all, we are looking for people who are compatible with our values as a company. Therefore I recommend that candidates take the time to learn about our organization, to be sure that they will feel good about working with us and will be able to demonstrate this feeling when interacting with recruiters. The most important thing is to be authentic: this is what guarantees long-term success for employees in our organization.
Company name: SSQ Financial Groupe
Industry sector: Accounting, finance and insurance
No. of employees: 2000
Headquarters: Quebec City