Every month, Jobboom profiles an employer who’s a leader in his industry to shed some light on the business cultures, staffing needs and recruitment methods. This month we look at:
The Visavie group
Operating under the collective banner of JaideMesParents.ca, two companies provide support services to retired persons and their families to help handle the challenges of the transition to residential living. Visavie provides access to residences that are adapted to meet the needs of elderly people, while Home Instead offers assisted living services for elderly people who prefer to live at home. In nearly thirty years, the group has become the leading residential and professional services network for retired people in Quebec and Ontario, and together has helped more than 150,000 families find the care services they need.
Jobboom spoke with Nathalie Bérubé, Marketing Director for the group.
JOBBOOM: What are the main types of employment available in your company?
Nathalie Bérubé: The most common position available within our group is residential counselor, or as we prefer to call them, counselor for retired people. This is the person who meets with the elderl
y individual and their family to help guide their choices about which care options best meet their needs. At our headquarters we also employ people in administration, in particular customer service specialists, and in accounting and other areas. We also hire professional assistants who perform home visits to care for retired clients, with the goal of allowing them to live at home for as long as possible.
JOBBOOM: In terms of recruitment, what positions do you have the most difficulty filling?
N.B. Finding new counselors for retired people is always challenging. Every counselor is a rare individual who has a true calling to bring care and compassion to their work. We don’t hire salespeople or people who are just looking for “a job”. Every person on our team is here because they share the values of the company and the sense of humanity that working here requires. The ideal profile for someone to be a counselor for retired people is a joyful mix of Mother Theresa and Richard Branson.
JOBBOOM: What are your primary values?
N.B. Naturally, our guiding principles are those of respect and integrity, both of which are essential in our line of work. Our group is strongly committed to these values; they define our corporate decisions and guide our employees from the moment they join our team. Cooperation is also fundamental to what we do, particularly between counselors who work in different regions, in order to deliver the best solutions for our clients. As well, perseverance and a sense of urgency must inform the quality of the services we provide, and we are guided by the goal of always finding a solution to the challenges we face, whether from internal or external resources.
JOBBOOM: What essential qualities do you look for in your employees?
N.B. Our employees are excellent communicators – they are patient, understanding and empathetic. Many people mistakenly believe that moving to a residential setting represents an end to the life they knew, and as a result, many are pleasantly surprised to discover that life in residence isn’t at all what they’ve seen in the media.
For us, it’s also important to distinguish between the person who will receive care and their family members. Often, a client’s children are very involved in the process and voice several desires in terms of the care options, but we must remember that we work first and foremost for the elderly person who will be receiving care. Sometimes, a client’s children will insist that their parent be in a residence close by that will allow them to visit often, but then they only come to see their parent a few times a year. Sometimes we see families torn apart – children that have a very hard time witnessing the condition of their parents.
More than anything, we need people who can be a part of the process. Our clients are often dealing with complicated, heart-wrenching situations. Our employees need to be able to stay focused even after meeting several elderly people who are in the hospital, or who are facing health problems.
JOBBOOM: What are your qualities as an employer? What distinguishes you from other employers?
N.B. Our counselors are self-employed workers; this job is often a second career for them. We offer them comprehensive training, the benefit of the use of our brand and support materials, but we also offer permanent support for our counselors through telephone support, the availability of our director of training and all employees of the company. We encourage them to continue their learning, to train themselves and to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the field.
What we offer to potential employees is a work-life balance that suits their needs. Many people who consider working with us are at a stage in their lives where they are dreaming about striking out on their own to get away from the rat race and constant stress. Self-motivation and accomplishment are the “managers” at our company; ultimately, our people are driven by the desire to make a difference in the world.
Every year, we hold two gatherings where all of our teams across Québec participate and share their experiences and best working practices. These events are in addition to our year-end and summer parties. We also hold regional gatherings, which are great opportunities for our employees to work together as a group since our values and experiences are so similar. Our employees aren’t in competition with each other, so they often trade territories and clients. In this field, we are all headed in the same direction, and we support each other along the way.
JOBBOOM: What elements help your company to attract and retain talent?
N.B. The family spirit of our organization is very attractive to people. Being a self-employed worker also provides a lot of freedom, and can also provide the opportunity for solitary work. We are always available to hear from our employees and ensure that there’s always time to work with our teams.
JOBBOOM: What motivates your employees?
N.B. For many of them, it is the feeling that they are making a difference through their work. Once the crisis situation has passed, the families of our clients are often deeply touched by the attention they’ve received from our employees, who may make themselves available to their parents late at night or early in the morning. Our employees love receiving the sincere gratitude of client families.
JOBBOOM: What kinds of career development opportunities are available with your company, and how do you encourage the career development of your employees?
N.B. For our self-employed workers, career development is not really a factor. But if they want to, they can certainly focus on personal development with an eye to joining the administrative team. At our headquarters, there are many opportunities for advancement. If we see interest and capability, we will encourage the employee and nurture their growth. Both of our divisions, Home Instead and Visavie, are expanding, and there are plenty of opportunities to grow with the company.
Above all, we want to retain our employees for as long as possible. Our hiring process is long and complex, it’s done in a team environment, and we make sure that the person has all the elements we’re looking for and is open to training. We want to benefit as much as possible from what people have to offer. Professional achievement means a lot to us.
JOBBOOM: How would you describe the working atmosphere at your company?
N.B. Because our self-employed workers are on the road, it’s up to them to create their own working ambiance. They create connections between each other, forming small working teams. For the administrative team, however, every day involves hands-on cooperation. For example, if there are many service calls and our counselors are overwhelmed, I can take a few calls to help them out. Right now, we’re a little bit cramped in our offices, but soon we’re going to move to a larger space.
Even in our company, we operate as a family. If someone is able to do something and has a desire to do it, we’re happy to offer them the opportunity and to accompany them the whole way.