Throughout the COVID-19 lockdowns, Sobeys Inc. pharmacy manager Reena Mahli found her employer to be highly adaptive and supportive. “Among all these heightened emotions in everybody, I felt we had ample opportunity to voice what we needed, from protective barriers to new ways of home medicine delivery, and we were provided with them as quickly as possible,” says Mahli.
But this was no surprise for the Surrey, B.C. pharmacist, who has consistently found Sobeys’ values to align with her own.
“I’m Sikh, and I am involved in a lot of community service at our temple, particularly in diabetic care,” Mahli says. “When I brought this up with Sobeys eight years ago, speaking directly with the person responsible for further education for pharmacists, she connected me to a certified diabetes educator course. Her response was, ‘Hey, if you want to help your community, we’ll cover the cost of this course for you.’ The company is strongly community-oriented and actively encourages you to make a positive impact in any way you can. And they are committed to providing support wherever possible.”
Kerry Tompson, senior vice-president of talent and inclusion, emphasizes that the 116-year-old grocery retailer – overseeing 1,500 stores across Canada under various banners like Sobeys, IGA, Thrifty Foods, FreshCo, Foodland, Safeway, Longo’s and Farm Boy from its headquarters in Stellarton, N.S. – places great importance on community engagement and employee recognition.
“We operate in over 900 communities, and our teammates are deeply passionate about the communities they serve. This enables us to respond promptly to the needs of these communities,” Tompson says. “When our teammates rallied to provide support to firefighters in northern Ontario and assistance to communities and customers affected by Hurricane Fiona in the Atlantic Provinces, our leaders ensured that their staff had warm meals, access to water and the ability to charge their devices. Many stores made sure their customers had access to a hot beverage and a snack.
“Stores also supported their community partners through in-kind and gift card donations. This reflects our community-engaged focus, which is all about taking swift action to support our communities when they need it the most.”
The company’s family culture makes it “deeply committed to recognizing and rewarding teammates for their creativity, initiative, and hard work,” says Tompson. This recognition includes Sobeys’ long-standing value champion awards, which recognizes employees who embody the company’s values every day in stores, retail support centres and offices across the country.
“Then we have the retail impact awards,” Tompson continues, “presented by our CEO and executives when they travel coast to coast, recognizing our leaders whose performance demonstrates that our retail, related businesses, supply chain, and e-commerce teams, as well as our franchise partners, deliver what it takes to become the best retailers in Canada.”
It’s no wonder, then, that Sobeys boasts a high full-time retention rate and many long-term employees. Tompson mentions the quarter-century club, a sizable group within a company that maintains a robust veteran work force – Sobeys’ longest-serving employee has now worked for the company for 59 years. Pharmacist Mahli, who has been with Sobeys since it acquired Safeway a decade ago, envisions a long career ahead of her.
“We share the same values about how you should be as an employee and how the company should be,” says Mahli. “But the real reason I will stay with Sobeys is because I feel very valued in my job.”
Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.