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Best Workplaces in Quebec: Leveraging a Diverse Workforce

 Best Workplaces in Quebec: Leveraging a Diverse Workforce

Best Workplaces


Great Place to Work® is pleased to announce the 2019 list of Best Workplaces in Quebec. To be eligible for this list, organizations must be Great Place to Work Certified™ in the past year, be headquartered in Quebec, and have at least 15 employees working in the province. We determined the BEST based the overall Trust Index score from their Quebec-based employees.


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New to the list this year is Novartis, a global organization that uses innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. Their Canadian operations are based in Quebec, with almost 800 Novartis associates working in their different Divisions to help Canadians live better and healthier lives.

We asked Axim Valenzuela, VP & Head of People and Organization, to offer his insights on Quebec’s labour market, and how Novartis leverages its culture to attract and retain top talent.

What differentiates Quebec’s labour market from the rest of Canada?

According to Valenzuela, Quebec has an extremely diverse workforce which employers can leverage to compete on the world stage. “A European-like mindset exists in Quebec, and this is a clear differentiator from other markets, which or course has a positive impact on the business world. It affects how we operate, how we collaborate and how we work with different cultures.”

Valenzuela also points out that Montreal has a very competitive cost of living compared to other major Canadian cities, which helps employers attract diverse and skilled professionals. “People can come to Novartis and really have the experience they want to have, while meeting their personal purpose and growing in their career.”

What is the biggest challenge facing Quebec employers?

While different challenges apply to different employers, Valenzuela notes that the pending retirement of the baby-boomer generation is posing a significant challenge for Novartis Canada. “By 2030, 2.4 million boomers will reach retirement age, which will create a big gap in our workforce. At Novartis, we are looking at our talent with a very open mindset, providing younger employees with growth opportunities outside of traditional roles and supporting them with access to new training programs so they will feel confident to take on new challenges within the company.”

Valenzuela also highlights the importance of mobility. “At Novartis, it is common practice to bring talent from other markets, and vice versa. This is part of our corporate culture and HR strategy, as it really fosters professional growth.” Novartis offers their global associates the opportunity to match their mobility with internal job openings. “The world coming is a global world,” says Valenzuela. “In order to ensure we meet the expectations of our stakeholders, we need to integrate as much as possible the diversity, learnings and experiences of people coming from other provinces and other countries.”

How does Novartis ensure they are attracting the best talent to help navigate a changing landscape?

As highlighted above, Novartis has a strong focus on a diverse and inclusive workforce, so their people programs are designed with this in mind. “We provide a diverse range of supports for people from different generations, backgrounds and cultures to help them manage life events in the best possible way and have a great experience at Novartis,” says Valenzuela. This includes innovative benefits such as on-call medical advice for employees and their families, paid parental leave for both women and men and global development opportunities, to name a few.

“The most important priority for Novartis is that our employees are inspired and engaged, so we are able to achieve our purpose of providing patients with access to life-saving medications in the shortest possible time” says Valenzuela. This focus on patients is reinforced in all aspects of working life at Novartis, from the way jobs are posted to the way business discussions transpire. “Every single day, we talk about the number of lives that can be saved or extended as a result of our employees’ efforts. We give employees the information they need to understand how everything they do every day can help improve lives.”

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About our lists

Great Place to Work® publishes a series of Best Workplaces™ lists based on feedback from more than 300,000 employees at Great Place to Work Certified™ organizations across all industries in Canada. Employees complete an anonymous Trust Index© survey, answering questions about how frequently they experience behaviors that create a great workplace, including, the transparency of communication, degree of collaboration, quality of benefits programs, opportunity for professional development, and support for work-life balance. If 7/10 employees respond positively to the survey, the organization becomes Great Place to Work Certified™ for one year. Results from the survey are highly reliable, having a 95% confidence level with +/- 5% margin of error.

About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, GPTW recognizes the world's Best Workplaces™ in a series of national lists including those published by The Globe & Mail (Canada) and Fortune magazine (USA). Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures.

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