Juggling in heels

by Sonia Straface

TORONTO, Ont. — Kelli Saunders believes that if you as a manager have a healthy work-life balance, so should your employees.

This was the message she gave at the third annual Women with Drive Leadership Summit in Toronto on March 2 as part of the Leading by Example panel she was on along with Anne McKee, COO of Trailer Wizards, and Michelle Arseneau, managing partner at GX Transportation. The event was hosted by Trucking HR Canada.

All three panelists spoke to delegates about how they’ve made it their mission to front businesses that promote work-life balance – because in their opinion having a flexible company with diversity means having a successful one.

For Saunders, the president of Morai Logistics, having a balance is having her life blended, where work and play intertwine.

“For me, I travel extensively for work,” she said. “So when I do travel, I try to blend my life so I get to enjoy myself too.”

Arseneau said that for her, having a work-life balance means having flexible hours.

“It’s tricky, because I have two boys at home, nine and 12, and they’re busy,” she said. “I love my business, and I love my personal life… I even play hockey three days a week. So, I work very unconventional hours because that’s how my life needs to be right now. I’ve created my work environment so that I can where from anywhere I want.”

And this idea of working wherever she can, whenever she wants isn’t just reserved for her as a managing partner. She said she makes sure it is translated for all of her employees.

“We’ve given the entire team the option of working remotely,” she said. “So there’s less focus on what time they came in and what time they left and more focus on the results. I don’t care what time they’re getting their work done, just that they’re getting it done…I’m flexible so I want to make sure I give that to my team.”

She said that so far, the option has been well-received. The company’s highway dispatcher that Arseneau says is the company’s best dispatcher of the bunch, has a set of 2-year-old twins and the working from home option has helped her career immensely.

At Trailer Wizards, things are a little different, admitted McKee. The trailer company is a little more corporate, so while all of the employees can’t work from home, the 53-year-old organization has tried to find new ways to keep employees happy and balanced.

“We’ve recently had leadership meetings and I said to the team, when you go on vacation from here on in, you appoint a designate and you don’t answer those emails,” she said, adding that she makes sure she doesn’t answer emails either on days off to set an example.  “And it has to start there…because our lives are inundated with work, but we have to release.”

McKee said that in her personal life, she makes sure to put family ahead of work and shows that to her employees.

“I like what I do and I spend a lot of time at it…but I always make time for my family,” she said. “If my husband or my family member calls, no matter what I’m doing I pick up that phone.”

Saunders added that while she doesn’t have busy kids at home, she does like to spend a lot of time exercising and her passion for that has blended into her work culture as well. She explained that not only does she take the time out of her work day to go to a scheduled spin class, but she invites her employees to participate in chair yoga on every Tuesday of the week for 30 minutes.

“Because if I’m bringing that good physical aura into work, (my employees) have to see it as well,” she said.


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