In today's highly competitive business environment, any corporation hoping to thrive and prosper must deal with a key issue: How do you attract and retain the best employees?

At RBC, where the corporate vision is “Always earning the right to be our clients’ first choice,” getting the answer right is a top priority.

There is, of course, no simple, one-size-fits-all way to be an employer of choice. That’s particularly true for one of Canada’s largest banks whose 79,000 employees work in 42 countries in differing businesses, including personal and commercial banking, wealth management services, insurance, investor services and capital markets products and services.

RBC has long recognized that career success means different things to different people. We try to emphasize flexibility and what's important to the individual.

Per Scott, Vice President, Human Resources

Then again, diversity for growth and innovation is a core value at RBC. “RBC has long recognized that career success means different things to different people,” says Per Scott, Vice President, Human Resources, RBC. “We try to emphasize flexibility and what’s important to the individual.”

For current and prospective employees who put compensation and benefits uppermost, RBC offers financial incentives that may include year-end bonuses, discounted banking products (like mortgages) and a share purchase plan, among others. Those who strive for career advancement can take advantage of RBC’s panoply of training and development programs.

Those who want their employer to be a good corporate citizen – and this is a growing group, especially among younger workers – RBC should be a consideration. RBC is one of Canada’s largest corporate donors, with a history of philanthropy dating back to 1891. In 2013, RBC committed more than $104 million to causes worldwide through donations, sponsorships, community investments and employee volunteerism.

Some initiatives, such as the RBC Blue Water Project, are company-wide and global in scope. Introduced in 2007, the project is a 10-year commitment to help provide access to swimmable, fishable, drinkable water now and into the future. To date, RBC has pledged over $41 million to more than 700 charitable organizations worldwide that protect urban water.

RBC also supports a wide range of employee-driven projects via measures that recognize and reward those who contribute time and resources in their own communities. One such initiative, the RBC Day of Service Grant Program, encourages employees to gather a team of co-workers, friends and family to volunteer for a day outside work hours and then apply for $1,000 for the qualifying charity.

David Spence, Sales Manager Small Business in the B.C. region, clearly likes this program – a lot. Spence, based in the South Surrey-Delta region, also serves as co-chair of the B.C. chapter of NextGen. Last spring, he issued the group a challenge: raise $50,000 in the eight-week window the program runs. Some 950 volunteer hours later they exceeded their goal, raising $54,000. “It’s a great opportunity to give back to our community,” says Spence.

There are other benefits. NextGen, the newest of an array of grassroots affinity employee groups throughout RBC, helps members in their 20s and 30s to develop personally and professionally. Volunteering can definitely play a part in that, says Spence. “You’re building connections with peers and leaders while you’re having a positive impact on your career, the businesses you work with, and your community.”

At RBC, the personal and professional are inextricably linked. So it’s no surprise that attracting and retaining great people are too. As HR VP Scott states, over 30 per cent of new hires come from referrals from current employees. He adds, “That speaks very well of the company when somebody says to other people, ‘you should come work here, too.

51,423 full-time staff in Canada; 7,971 jobs available last year; 63.9 years, longest-serving employee; 5,571 charities helped last year

Reproduced with permission from the announcement magazine for Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017), published November 7, 2016 in The Globe and Mail. © 2016 Mediacorp Canada Inc. and The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.

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