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UNI named one of Atlantic Canada's Top Employers

Posted on Friday February 21, 2020

Interview with Claire Turbide, Employee Experience Director

Claire Turbide, Employee Experience Director
Claire Turbide, Employee Experience Director

Our financial cooperative was named one of Atlantic Canada’s Top Employers for 2020, a high-profile competition that recognizes the best places to work in the country’s four eastern provinces. So what’s our secret?

Interview with Claire Turbide-Albert, Employee Experience Director, for a closer look at the evaluation criteria and what sets UNI apart.

Exceptionally attractive career prospects

The winners in all categories of the competition have one thing in common: they all offer their employees an exceptionally attractive long-term outlook with real opportunities for advancement. When it comes to career prospects, Claire Turbide-Albert believes that the creation of new business sectors and diversification of positions at UNI make a big difference.

“We’re just a provincial institution, but we abide by the same federal regulations as other big players, and we face the same kinds of requirements as big banks. Our business development and corporate structure are comparable to those of much larger organizations so we can offer our employees a wide variety of opportunities.”

Growing and thriving within the same company

When a company is big it can attract both seasoned professionals and young people just beginning their careers. Being able to grow and thrive professionally without leaving the province is a major source of attraction. 

A work atmosphere and environment unlike any other

When we ask about the work environment, Ms. Turbide-Albert answers without missing a beat: “Ours is top notch. I’m sure that’s one area where we rise above the crowd. The pure air, proximity to the sea, ability to work in a rural setting and grow as part of a family—that’s pretty special. Right out the front door of the head office is a hiking trail, and when I look out the window by my desk, I see the expanse of Caraquet Bay.” This delightful setting, combined with the wide variety of job prospects, is definitely a strength for the firm.

“Here employees have access to a wealth of advancement opportunities and a wide variety of career prospects, including senior management positions. We have directors who started out as tellers with us,” she explains.

One big family

The social aspect also makes the employee experience enjoyable and rewarding. “At UNI we’re one big family! We’re close in so many ways. We frequently have lunch together and take part in activities outside of work as well. Our spouses know one another. It’s really special, and it’s true at all our offices. We have fun!” adds Ms. Turbide.

Competitive salaries and benefits

According to the Employee Experience Director, UNI performs well on the pay front, offering conditions that are comparable to other institutions in the field. “Our employees have access to excellent bonuses and benefits, such as health care and psychological support.

Every year each employee receives $250 to put toward their physical activity of choice. We offer three weeks of vacation from the first year of employment and four days of PTO for family obligations. We are always thinking about how we can offer our employees the best conditions available.”

Valuing skill development

LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn Learning

While many new hires at UNI are already highly trained, learning and developing new skills is a core value here. “If an employee wants to finish their bachelor’s and the degree is related to their career goals, we’ll cover tuition. The same goes for professional development activities, online coursework, and any other relevant training request.”

A wealth of free training opportunities

“We think it’s important to always keep learning, whatever your area of expertise. We have licences on LinkedIn Learning so our employees can use it freely to develop all sorts of new skills, no matter their areas of interest. Right now we’re offering our managers the ‘Coaching Ourselves’ program. Program participants develop their leadership skills in an interactive format, sharing their knowledge and skills with others in different scenarios. This course is really popular—our managers don’t want to miss a single one!”

Better management for better performance

As part of UNI’s efforts to continuously improve working conditions for its employees, it makes a point to create structures to support and guide them. “I firmly believe that the strongest link in a team is the manager. Managers know their employees best. If we prepare our managers well, they can pass on clear objectives to their teams so we can all make progress, both as individuals and as an organization.”

To improve performance, employees and managers meet regularly to set goals and objectives. To ensure total transparency, employees have access to annual, three-year, and five-year operations plans, and regular oversight keeps performance on track.

Working together for the good of the community

This is where the Employee Experience Director feels UNI undoubtedly stood out among the other financial institutions. “The impact we have on our community is what makes the difference. It’s the reason we’re here! Our primary mission is to grow New Brunswick’s culture and economy. Last year we put $2.4 million back into the community in the form of donations and sponsorships. Our employees also volunteer and like the feeling of giving back to help improve society. Here you work for the good of your neighbour, year after year.”

It’s an invaluable source of motivation that translates to a real closeness between employees and members. “Our employees know their clients so well, they ask how their children are doing when they greet them! We’re part of their family, and they’re part of ours.”

Ms. Turbide-Albert beams with pride as she recounts the cooperative’s strengths: the work environment, management team, and core values. “I was so excited to submit UNI’s application to the competition. It made me realize what big things we’re doing.” It was a chance for them to take a step back and see how far they’ve come and look to the road ahead as they strive to improve a little more each day.

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