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TOP EMPLOYERS REALLY LISTEN Whether it’s through technology or one-on-one chats, Manitoba’s Top Employers are getting to know just about everything about their employees.

There’s an ability to measure everything. So there’s really no excuse for organizations not to figure out ways in which to gauge what their employees are thinking.

By Berton Woodward


all it a cliché or call it an essential organizational strategy, but listening is what Manitoba’s Top Employers are all about these days. “It involves understanding everything about your employees — how they work, where they work, what’s competing for their time,” says Richard Yerema, managing editor at Mediacorp Canada Inc., which manages the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, including the Manitoba’s Top Employers competition. The value of such information is inestimable to the organizations chosen as top employers. Backed by ever more sophisticated technology, companies are using surveys, social media, focus groups, interviews and other techniques to drill deep into the fabric of their employees’ lives and find ways to help them be happier, more focused, more motivated people. “In our industry, we’re mindful of the fact that our assets go up and down the elevators every day,” says Rob Strickland, president of Fidelity Investments Canada ULC, the major component of Fidelity Canada. “So every year, we try to do a better job of listening.” Many companies have programs to gather employees’ ideas about better ways of doing things. Fidelity offers rewards for the best innovations. But even then, says Strickland, “it’s more than just listening to ideas. Employees want to know that their contribution is visible and recognized and appreciated.” The positive results go well beyond boosting efficiency and productivity. Listening has also

Employees want to know that their contribution is visible and recognized and appreciated.

contributed mightily to the changes top employers have made in recent years to their diversity and inclusion programs. With workplace diversity almost a given in today’s Canada, many organizations now put greater emphasis on inclusion, because it covers such a broad range of situations for employees. The idea of “bring your whole self to work” started in support of members of the LGBTQ community. Now, that emotive idea of inclusion has expanded considerably. Through listening, employers are learning more about all their employees’ whole selves. That can mean their need for time to take care of children, or elder care, or, increasingly, support for mental illnesses such as depression. Listening can even centre on more subtle areas — many employers are focusing on the differences between the generations, or even between introverts and extroverts. Technology has played a key role in the explosion of listening, and allowed companies of every size to compete in this crucial area. “The online capabilities have reached down to the smaller organizations as well,” says Yerema. “It’s almost like analytics in sports

— there’s an ability to measure everything. So there’s really no excuse for organizations not to figure out ways in which to gauge what their employees are thinking.” At Samsung Canada, they even have an app for it. It’s an off-the-shelf online tool called Two-Minute Feedback that any manager, employee or sales person can send to any other employee or outside client. The recipient anonymously answers a few quick questions and, voila, instant feedback. “It really works well for team-based work and collaborations, as well as feedback for an individual on how they’re performing,” says Christine Greco, vice-president of human resources and corporate affairs at Samsung. But it’s not only about tech. Employers like Samsung also carry out human listening across the enterprise. “We spend a lot of time getting feedback from our employees,” says Greco. “Last year and early this year we conducted over 200 one-on-one interviews, each about 60 minutes long, trying to understand what engages our employees. You get a lot of feedback when you do that.” Possibly the most ambitious listening exercise among Canada’s Top 100 Employers in the past year occurred at banking giant RBC, with some 80,000 employees worldwide. It held a 55-hour global “Vision and Values Jam” online, in which 20,000 employees in 22 countries posted more than 17,000 threads, comments and replies. Set in motion by new president and CEO David McKay, who participated, the goal was to collectively articulate RBC’s very reason for

existing — its purpose — and refine its vision and values. “We had come to the conclusion that in the future, successful companies would be purpose-driven, principles-led and performance-focused,” says Per Scott, RBC’s vice-president of human resources. “That led to the work on what we call our Collective Ambition. And we said, we can’t do this work without talking to the employees.” When the non-stop, two-and-a-half-day discussion was all distilled down — aided by sophisticated text and data analytics methods — the result was a concise but powerful new statement of purpose for RBC and its employees: “Helping clients thrive and communities prosper.” There were also tweaks to the company’s five values — notably to the Diversity description. “What came through loud and clear from employees was that the idea of inclusion had to be reflected in this value, and that today, it wasn’t simply about respecting differences, but it was also about advocating and speaking up for inclusion,” says Scott. “So we changed the value to Diversity and Inclusion, and we added that language.” Scott says the example of the global jam has led to dozens of “mini-jams” through RBC’s internal social media. “It’s a new era of what communications looks like,” he says. “Really, it’s not just about listening, but about listening and responding. Employees want transparency and they want a dialogue.” ❚



THE COMPETITIVE EDGE Being named one of Manitoba’s Top Employers gives organizations a competitive edge in attracting, recruiting and retaining the best talent in your field.





he Manitoba’s Top 25 Employers project grew from one started in the early 1990s — a directory of attractive workplaces for those looking for work. The directory provided information about benefits those outside the company might not otherwise know about, such as paid vacation time and salary scales. In 2001, MediaCorp Canada expanded this directory project by launching Canada’s Top 100 Employers to showcase employers across the country who have created exceptional places for people to work. In 2005, Canada’s Top 100 Employers started recognizing regional top employers as well. Today, Canada’s Top 100 Employers recognizes all sizes of employers from a variety of industries including education, finance, insurance, manufacturing and the civil service, says Richard Yerema, Managing Editor of Canada’s Top Employers. Yerema adds that individuals looking to enter the workforce, change or upgrade their career will be attracted to an organization named as a top employer. “To be recognized as an employer with a progressive plan makes you attractive to candidates,” says Yerema, adding, “When you look at an employer in the Top 100, it helps by giving job seekers a greater understanding of what to expect from a potential employer.” Job seekers benefit by getting an idea about a potential employer’s culture and opportunities even before applying for positions. These applicants benefit again when it comes time to negotiate details such as salary and vacation, since they will already have a good idea of what the company offers. And while the project began as a resource for potential employees, it has become an advantageous tool for employers as well. “Making a list like Manitoba’s Top 25 Employers highlights that you’re decent place to work, not just in Manitoba, but across Canada,” says Yerema. The regional competition is open to any employer with its head office or principal place of business in Manitoba. Employers of any size may apply, whether private or public sector, including non-profits and governments. Employers are evaluated by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers using the same eight criteria as the national competition: physical workplace; work atmosphere and social; health, financial and family benefits; vacation and time off; employee communications; performance management; training

and skills development; and community involvement. Employers are also compared against other organizations in their field to determine which offer the most competitive advantages. However, the competition does account for the fact that larger organizations can usually ofter more benefits than smaller ones, with Yerema noting the competition does not compare small organizations directly with large ones. Comparing workplaces against each other encourages employers to constantly re-examine what they offer their staff members and look at new ways to keep them motivated. “They all have the opportunity to learn from each other,” Yerema says. Human resources is a constantly evolving field, and the Top Employers project has seen significant change since it was launched. And not all changes are perceived as good. “The list can only reflect the Canadian reality, and it highlights how many employers have moved away from traditional defined-benefit pension plans in favour of defined-contribution plans,” Yerema notes. On the other hand, employers are becoming much more aware of the importance of a healthy work-life balance these days, introducing programs to offer more paid personal time off, overall health and wellness strategies for staff, and flexible working options. This last piece is primarily due to the rapid advances in technology. Yerema points out that since technology makes it possible to work from basically anywhere, more and more employers are developing strategies that address how and where we will work in the future. One of the biggest impacts has been the introduction of maternity leave top-up payments. Many employers now subsidize government payments to employees on maternity or parental leave for a period of time, sometimes up to 100 per cent of that employee’s salary. Although employee-engagement strategies and jobseeker concerns change constantly, one thing remains consistent in Manitoba’s job economy. “Manitoba has remarkable stability,” says Yerema. “It’s one of the most remarkable provinces in terms of its diverse economy, low turnover rates and steady employment, from insurance through to aircraft manufacturing.” For more information, visit



By Jennifer McFee

While Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) continues to engage its audience, the organization also remains tuned to the strengths of its staff.


PTN recently celebrated 17 years on-air, growing from a team of about 20 in 1999 to 160 employees today. CEO Jean La Rose speaks with pride about the achievements of the network’s talented team. “APTN is a continually developing story. We really are a network devoted to promoting opportunities for the Aboriginal community, which is part of our mandate. Something that was close to non-existent when the network launched. People at APTN are encouraged to grow along with the network,” he says. “Part of our mission is to share our stories and the knowledge of our Elders, while ensuring our languages thrive and our history is preserved. That is key for many employees. The 30 per cent of our staff who are non-Aboriginal understand this environment and thrive here as well.” Embracing the opportunity to expand, the company has established news bureaus in 13 different cities across the country. Many of these operations are home-based, providing flexibility for employees, who can also claim some home expenses as tax deductions. At the same time, APTN’s Winnipeg head office is centrally located to convey the stories from regions straight across the country. “Being central makes us accessible.” La Rose says. “We also had to be in a location with a deep talent pool, and Winnipeg has one of the highest urban Aboriginal populations in Canada. For La Rose, it is important to create the best overall experience for APTN employees at all levels. That includes wages that often rise above industry averages, bolstered by comprehensive benefits and extended health packages. “We maintain a level of fairness for our employees, and I believe they respect and appreciate the environment we have created,” La Rose says. “We also offer employees financial assistance towards training courses or other self-improvement opportunities that relate to their current job — or what could lead to a

future promotion.” Skill development is a key component of the workplace culture, which encourages employees to build a strong foundation of talents that can be transferable within different areas of the organization. As well, APTN provides paid internship opportunities for those who are just starting their careers. “Every year, we welcome anywhere from four to 12 student interns to the organization,” La Rose says. “It’s a great way to identify promising talent early in their career.”

“Every year, we welcome anywhere from four to 12 student interns to the organization,” La Rose says. “It’s a great way to identify promising talent early in their career.” Looking ahead, APTN will continue to keep tabs on cutting-edge developments in the industry and beyond. “Television broadcasting is moving toward more programming online because that’s where the audience is seeking content. APTN is transforming its infrastructure to allow increased streaming and social media connections,” he says. “By the end of our fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31 of next year, we will have finalized the revamping of our total infrastructure to allow an IP connectivity at every level. That way, we can be more visible online while maintaining our strong presence on-air.” Undoubtedly, these enhancements will create further opportunities for employees at APTN, which continues to make waves as it remains on the forefront of change.❚




The advancement of technology is changing the way people conduct their financial affairs, but the personal touch still matters in providing quality service and building working relationships that endure.


hat philosophy is at the heart of the continuing success of Access Credit Union, a full-service financial institution based in southern Manitoba. Access’s 260 employees at 17 branches and its head office serve the financial needs of nearly 50,000 members and manage almost $2.4 billion in assets. The credit union’s commitment to staff, and the communities they serve, has certainly resonated with employees, leading to the organization’s inclusion on this year’s list of Manitoba’s Top Employers. “We view this award as confirmation of the type of workplace and the culture we are certainly seeking to create here at Access,” says president and CEO, Larry Davey. “We are striving to be an organization that is attractive to both present, and potential, employees.” Evolving in tune with the competitive financial services world, Access continues to adapt to inevitable industry changes by embracing change and supporting ongoing employees’ professional development. “As an employer, we provide an exceptional working environment for our employees,” says Davey. “Not only do we offer competitive salaries and benefits, but also provide support for their ongoing training and education.” Davey says Access covers the cost of employees’ work-related education, a generous offer that has been embraced by staff, and is already paying dividends. This year alone, three Access employees completed their MBA studies, while five more are enrolled in the program to earn that same degree. Strengthening business qualifications helps Access employees grow as individuals and professionals, while also benefitting members who value knowledgeable customer service. At the same time,

Access also recognizes that encouraging a healthy work-life balance for employees leads to a happier, healthier workplace. Giving back to the communities they serve also gives staff another reason to feel proud of where they work, live and play. Davey says Access employees have opportunities to support their communities through volunteering and different charity programs offered by the credit union. One example is Jeans Day, a popular program that allows staff to wear jeans to work on Fridays in return for a $2 donation, a sum that is matched by Access. Last year, the program raised more than $50,000 in support of local charities. “At the end of the day, our credit union probably contributes about $500,000 to $600,000 per year to our communities,” says Davey. “We are proud to invest in our communities because it helps others, including our employees who not only serve, but also live in, these communities.” Access employees are encouraged to volunteer their time and talents to community causes, and they rose to the challenge last year, contributing more than 9,000 volunteer hours toward communitybased programs and activities, with the full support of the credit union. Davey says the charitable efforts of Access staff are “mutually important and mutually beneficial” to the volunteers and the organizations they help. While community spirit remains a constant, change is inevitable in business and in life. Davey says Access staff has become accustomed to meeting the challenges of change since the organization was formed with the merger or acquisition of seven different credit unions. “Our staff understood, from the start, that


“We are very particular when we hire people to make sure that they, too, are comfortable with a changing environment — adaptable and open to new ideas. That has been a real key to our success.” there was going to be change involved and those who have remained with us have embraced that,” says Davey. “We are very particular when we hire people to make sure that they, too, are comfortable with a changing environment — adaptable and open to new ideas. That has been a real key to our success.”

For Access, the combined result has been financial strength and a workforce that appreciates its roots and knows how to provide exemplary service in a highly competitive industry. “Our employees allow us to build on our value proposition that we gave to our members whereby members not only have the ability to deal with us through technology, but they also know that they are going to be dealing with trusted, knowledgeable employees, whether face-to-face or via technology,” says Davey. “These days, there is more texting, emailing, phone calls and Skype between our staff and our members, but our employees still must be able to handle the issues that members are dealing with in a very efficient, respectful manner. If anyone is interested in joining a great organization, we are always looking for great people to help build our team.” ❚

dream. build. live. right here.



Since it was formed 35 years ago, Arctic Co-operatives Limited has typically flown under the radar in southern Manitoba.


lthough it’s well known in northern communities in Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon where it supplies goods and services to 32 member co-operatives, it’s far less known in the south. That could soon change. Arctic Co-ops was recently chosen one of Manitoba’s Top Employers for 2017. The annual competition is organized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and recognizes 25 leading Manitoba companies for their efforts to create exceptional workplaces. This year is the first time Arctic Co-ops entered the competition and company executives are hoping its selection will help to raise the company’s profile in Winnipeg and other southern communities.

“We see it as a great source of pride in our organization,” CEO Rod Wilson says of Arctic Coops’ selection. “We think this type of recognition is really valueadded. We want to get out from under the radar a little bit and let more people know what we do.” Arctic Co-ops was formed in 1981, when Canadian Arctic Producers Co-operative Limited and the Canadian Arctic Co-operative Federation Limited joined forces. In 2015, it reported sales of $172 million, with profits being returned to member owners. It serves as a purchasing agent for 32 communityowned co-operatives, which allows it to consolidate the buying power of those businesses. In addition, it provides members with a wide range of services such

as accounting, management advisory support, technical support along with human resources and construction services. Arctic Co-operatives also provides financial services to co-operatives across Canada’s Arctic though a self-managed fund of pooled financial resources. The Arctic Co-operative Development Fund provides short and long-term financing to member co-ops and is the primary source of funding used to support the annual resupply of product that is moved into the communities by winter road, ship or barge. Arctic Co-ops employs about 100 people at its home office in the Inkster Industrial Park area in Winnipeg. It has another 100 employees at its Iqaluit subsidiaries, Art Marketing Services, Canadian Arctic Producers in Mississauga, Ont., and the Northern Images retail marketing arm in Yellowknife. Employees at its Winnipeg home office range in age from 18 all the way up to 70. One thing they all have in common is a passion for the work they do, says Vice-President of Human Resources Estelle Moore. That might explain why so many of them remain with the company for so long. One current employee has been with the organization for 39 years. “You feel good coming to work. You are providing service and support to a part of the world that is really under-serviced. You are providing something that is very worthwhile and very beneficial,” Moore says. “We’re not just another retailer out there where you’re supporting this big business, like in (Southern Canada). If we were not there helping to provide service and support, and helping those operations in the North I question who would be.” Wilson says Arctic Co-ops has made a conscious effort to create a workplace environment where employees feel empowered and engaged, comparing it to a small, family-owned business. That includes providing self-development opportunities and promoting diversity and accountability.

“You feel good coming to work. You are providing service and support to a part of the world that is really under-serviced.” Another big part of the workplace culture at Arctic Co-ops is relationship building. Employees have an opportunity to meet with their manager or supervisor at least twice a month to discuss what is working well and where things might be improved. “We really promote the idea with our senior leadership teams… of the importance of listening to staff and creating a mechanism for that dialogue. We want to demonstrate that ideas are meaningful and we will do something (with them),” Wilson says. One of Arctic Co-op’s seven guiding principles is concern for community. As part of that commitment, employees helped develop Nunavut’s first aluminum can recycling initiative. Groups are invited to participate to raise funds towards their community project and support the return of aluminum cans to Southern Canada on returning resupply vessels. Another way Arctic Co-ops has tried to promote employee engagement is by offering a competitive benefits package tailored to their individual needs, Moore says. In addition to covering 100 per cent of health and dental benefit premiums, the company matches the six per cent employees contribute to a pension plan on a dollar-for-dollar basis. It also offers a purchasing program that allows employees to purchase goods the company distributes at a reduced price, an interest-free employee computer purchasing program and a flex scheduling option that allows employees to begin their work day at a time that best suits their personal or family needs. ❚


Seven Co-operative Principles • Voluntary & Open Membership • Democratic Member Control • Member Economic Participation

• Autonomy & Independence • Education, Training & Information • Co-operation among Co-operatives • Concern for Community

An empowered, engaged and inclusive environment, where employees are encouraged, supported and recognized through a strong sense of team spirit, unity and fun.




Workplace culture and philosophy play a huge role in how organizations attract and retain talented employees.


t Artis REIT, a commercial real estate firm that owns properties across Canada and the United States, the nature of their business informs how they care for their employees. “As a real estate investment trust landlord, we believe in investing in our properties and taking care of them for the long-term; we have the same approach with our people,” says Jim Green, Chief Financial Officer. Clearly, this approach works. Artis REIT has been recognized as a top employer for the past three years in Manitoba and nationally in 2016 as one of Canada’s top small and medium employers. They employ 95 people in their head office at Winnipeg’s Portage and Main intersection. Employee engagement drives their success as a top employer, says Morgan Johnson, Senior Human Resources Manager. “We empower staff to problem solve and take things as far as they possibly can. The culture of Artis is one of engagement. It’s very common to see people getting together to create solutions. We encourage open dialogue, and we want people to know it’s OK to respectfully question the status quo if it means simplifying a process or providing better service.” Artis REIT hasn’t been content to accept the status quo on their part, either. In the three years the company has been named one of Manitoba’s Top Employers, Artis has continued to develop programs to meet employee needs. Johnson notes that in her four years working at Artis REIT, every year has brought new initiatives. “It’s been incredible to see the growth and development over these few years,” she says. One of the most recent programs which showcases the company’s unique approach to employee development was AX UNiversity, (named for the company’s symbol on the Toronto Stock Exchange ticker) an in-house professional development program for all staff.

AX UNiversity contains three modules aimed at connecting corporate goals to team and individual objectives. The first, Artis 101, provides a solid foundation about the company’s business model and explores how making small changes can result in big improvements. The second, Best in Class Service, presents customer service excellence for Artis tenants, unitholders and teammates. The third, Personal Effectiveness, equips participants with tangible business skills they can apply in their day-to-day routines. “The program was incredibly well-received,” says Johnson, adding that employees appreciated the opportunities to learn alongside senior management and meet individuals from other departments. Artis REIT offers other in-house and online training programs, but employee educational opportunities continue past those offered internally. The company helps employees plan their own career paths, and offers tuition subsidies up to $1,800 for courses related to their current role or to help position them for further career growth. They also offer subsidies for professional accreditation. Artis REIT even reaches out to those entering the workforce by offering internships and seasonal student positions. They offer a competitive benefits package which includes maternity top-up payments, yearend bonuses, RRSP matching, and group benefit insurance premiums coverage. All new employees receive three weeks of paid vacation one year after beginning employment. The company also offers flexible and reduced office hours in the summer. Artis REIT has taken a thoughtful approach to helping employees achieve a healthy-life balance. Each office has a wellness committee to set activities and goals for keeping staff healthy and engaged. The company recently recognized October

as Healthy Workplace Month, and every day the committee encouraged staff to do something fun, healthy and achievable, such as sharing a joke or taking a stretch break. Finally, Artis REIT encourages employees to give back to charity — once again, letting employees decide how. “Rather than traditional giving campaigns, Artis has picked a more flexible, choose-yourown-adventure-style of giving,” says Johnson. Employees decide together how to contribute

their donations to charity, and pick a way that works for them. Employees may also apply for the company’s Volunteerism Program to receive paid time off to volunteer at an organization of their choice.

For more information about Artis REIT, visit or ❚


MAKING A DIFFERENCE It may sound unusual for a financial institution to measure its accomplishments on more than just the financial bottom line. Yet the key to Assiniboine Credit Union’s success and their status as one of Manitoba’s Top Employers, has been a philosophy that includes people, the planet and prosperity.


aking a difference for employees, members and the community is an authentic part of ACU’s DNA. “At Assiniboine Credit Union our employees aim to set an example that we can be a world class financial institution and, at the same time, strengthen the fabric of our communities by ensuring access to fair and affordable financial services for all,” says ACU President and CEO Kevin Sitka. One of the recent community impact opportunities offered to ACU employees is the Each One Teach One financial literacy program. The program trains employees to facilitate, on a volunteer basis, up to 17 different one-hour workshops on everything from how to save money to how to use credit wisely. “Once trained, employees are able to deliver financial empowerment workshops to various groups in our community. We know that banking can be intimidating, and through this plain language program individuals can ask questions about how to open an account, what interest is and how mortgages work,” says Kim Champion Taylor, Vice-President of People Solutions at Assiniboine Credit Union. Manichan Luangkhot, Financial Account Manager and one of ACU’s first Each One Teach One training coaches says “I am thrilled about becoming a coach; it aligns with my core passion of building knowledge for our communities. I am thankful to Assiniboine Credit Union for the opportunity to share my extensive experience and expertise with others who want to learn more about their finances.”

ACU’s employee commitment to social impact runs deeper than volunteerism — it is not uncommon for an ACU employee to be working on the financing of an important community project such as a housing co-op for seniors, or for a small team to be designing an innovative solution to meet a community need, like a program that supports foreign-trained professionals while they become accredited to work in Canada. In addition to ACU’s commitment to making a difference in the community, the credit union invests in employee professional development, training and

education. ACU provides tuition subsidies for jobrelated courses, a variety of in-house and online training programs and professional accreditation. ACU also offers impressive benefits. New employees receive three weeks of paid vacation, and will consider previous work experience when determining individual vacation allowance. ACU offers a competitive extended health and dental plan for full- and part-time employees, including a Health Care Spending Account that allows employees flexibility in offsetting some medical costs. They can even use it to purchase a gym membership. As a financial institution, ACU provides staff with a wide range of special banking benefits, such as matched pension contributions, retirement planning assistance, and phased-in work options to help retiring employees with their transition to life after work. Along with being one of Manitoba’s Top Employers, ACU was also named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers last year — which translates


How do you make your community a better place? You work at it. We know making positive change in the community takes work. And there’s no better place to do that work than right here. We use our capabilities to create sustainable, positive impact for everyone. We invest in our employees, our local communities, and we encourage and support volunteerism. It’s just part of who we are, and if it sounds like a place you’d like to work at, apply today. Visit us online to find out more.

into an additional employee benefit. ACU participates in the Winnipeg Transit EcoPass program, making bus passes available to employees at a reduced rate which makes commuting to and from work easy, affordable and sustainable. As Champion Taylor puts it, “ACU employees are truly unique. They want to be a part of a successful organization, in the traditional sense, but they also want to do more, like supporting positive affordable housing solutions, and opening a branch in Winnipeg’s North End after other banks abandon the area. They want to be part of an organization that sees the importance of financial literacy and lends its expertise to educate. Our employees want to be part of an organization that makes a difference for every member and for the communities we serve.” ACU employs around 450 people in their Winnipeg, Thompson and Gillam branches. The credit union offers customary banking services with a high level of personalized member service. For more information, visit ❚



The sky’s the limit for Boeing Winnipeg, which boasts an impressive safety record that soars above the rest.


eadquartered in Chicago, the Boeing Company celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. At the same time, Boeing Canada celebrated 45 years north of the border. Throughout this time, the Winnipeg location, which is the largest composite manufacturer in Canada, has grown exponentially from about 50 people up to a 1,500-person organization. General manager Kim Westenskow is proud of Boeing’s diverse workforce in Winnipeg, which includes a large representation of women, visible minorities, Aboriginal staff members and people with disabilities, reflecting the community in which we live. For the company’s 10 deaf staff members, Boeing provides interpreters and Blackberries for

communication, and coworkers have also learned American Sign Language. “We’re very proud that we’ve built an environment where we can accommodate people with needs,” Westenskow says. Another strength is the company’s partnership with the Unifor union, which represents about 900 employees. “We do everything we can to make sure people know they can come to work each day and take care of their families at home,” she says. The company is also actively involved in volunteerism and fundraising. This year, Winnipeg employees raised $171,000 for the United Way, more than doubling employee participation, and they also support many other local organizations.

The focus on safety extends into the realm of personal health, so employees wear pedometers through a company-sponsored activity called Boeing on the Move. The corporation recognized the high participation level at Boeing Winnipeg and granted them $15,000 for a charitable donation pledge. The employees voted and chose the Children’s Hospital as the worthy recipient. Boeing Winnipeg also encourages health and safety through an injury prevention program called Industrial Athlete, which is operating out of a new site within the company. “We want to keep our employees healthy not only at work but at home,” says Tom Kelso, senior manager of Environment, Health and Safety. To achieve those goals, the company relies on the skills of Brittany Woitowicz, a certified exercise physiologist, and Amanda McDonald, a certified athletic therapist. The duo works together to deliver the three components of the Industrial Athlete program: stretching, symptom intervention and job conditioning. Woitowicz leads daily stretching for about 15 to 20 minutes before each shift for any interested employees. If an employee is experiencing symptoms related to a musculoskeletal problem, they can count on McDonald to provide them with advice, stretches or rehabilitation exercises. Job conditioning, which was added last year, is an eight-week program offered twice per week during work time. For participating employees, Woitowicz and McDonald put them through work-specific exercises to help reduce their risk for injuries. Participation is voluntary in all facets of the Industrial Athlete program, and the results are remarkable. “In Winnipeg, we’ve been able to lower blood pressure and improve heart rate. We also put employees through an injury risk assessment prior to the job conditioning. Upon completion of the program, the results have shown that we’ve been able to lower employees’ injury risk level. We’ve also seen improvement with employees’ flexibility and strength,” McDonald says.

The success of safety initiatives is clear to see, since the Winnipeg location won the company’s prestigious Chairman Safety Award, rising above Boeing’s 28 other manufacturing business units. “Boeing Canada Winnipeg won this award due to improvements in our safety culture, near-miss reporting and recordable injury reduction,” says manufacturing director Marty Lehman. “Our recordable rate, which is the number of employees injured per 100 employees, went down by 28 per cent.” One of the reasons these injury rates went down is because Boeing Winnipeg teaches its employees how to recognize and mitigate hazards. The company also encourages conversations about anything that might be distracting them

For the company’s 10 deaf staff members, Boeing provides interpreters and Blackberries for communication, and coworkers have also learned American Sign Language.

from work. As well, trained staff members stress the importance of speaking up about situations that could impact safety. The reporting of near misses, which are events that haven’t caused an injury but could cause an injury, went up by 112 per cent over the past two years. “That really impacts preventing the injury before it happens,” Lehman says. “We’re so proud of the way everyone is working together to make our workplace safer. We’re reducing workplace risks for employees and recognizing hazards before injuries occur as well.” Boeing Winnipeg continues to reach new heights in safety standards. ❚





For the past 125 years, Great-West Life has maintained its focus on providing for the well-being of Canadians.


reat-West Life first opened its doors in 1891 right here in Winnipeg, marking a milestone that few companies ever attain. Now, together with subsidiaries London Life and Canada Life, Great-West Life serves the financial security needs of more than 12 million people across Canada. The company has grown to become a leading insurer with 22,000 employees worldwide, including 3,400 employees in Manitoba, where the company is a major employer. “Winnipeg remains a great place to grow a business and serve our customers from coast to coast,” says Stefan Kristjanson, President and Chief Operating Officer, Canada. “We have access to strong talent here and a wonderful sense of community. With the perspective of 125 years,

At Great-West Life, employees have the chance to grow their careers through training and development programs that also bolster workplace retention.

Great-West is looking to the future with confidence. We’re proud to call Winnipeg home.” As part of its anniversary celebrations — which included a series of outdoor employee celebrations at major locations across Canada — Great-West Life offered employees an opportunity to apply for 125 grants of $1,000 each which were donated to the charitable organizations where employees volunteer.

This is in addition to Great-West Life providing employees with opportunities to volunteer as a team, with initiatives such as Habitat for Humanity or Canadian Cancer Society’s Dragon Boat Festivals. “We also have a very robust United Way campaign within our organization. Annually, we’ve been able to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to United Way, which supports community organizations here within the province,” notes Michael Embury van Wyk, Manager, Talent Sourcing and Onboarding at Great-West Life. At Great-West Life, employees have the chance to grow their careers through training and development programs that also bolster workplace retention. “Each of our employees has access to $2,000 per year towards ongoing education outside of the organization. To supplement that, last year we had 16,000 hours of in-house sessions that were offered to employees. That’s industry-related education courses that we offer internally as well as online learning,” Embury van Wyk says. “We also believe that ongoing education is an opportunity for people to stretch or to look beyond their current position.” For those who are just starting out, Great-West Life works with post-secondary schools in the province to provide internships for new graduates. And when it comes to careers with the company, the options are almost endless. “We have an opportunity for everyone. Usually when people think of insurance organizations, they think of finance, accounting and actuarial positions,” Embury van Wyk says. “While we have a lot of those roles, we actually employ people everywhere from cafeteria staff and landscapers all the way to nursing, IT people, marketing and other professionals.”

Another upside for employees is the central location of the Head Office at the corner of Broadway Avenue and Osborne Street. “Being in downtown Winnipeg definitely has its advantages. We are steps away from the Assiniboine river walk, a couple of minutes from Osborne Village, and close to Broadway and its food trucks,” Embury van Wyk says. “Our campus also has a significant amount of green space outside and quiet sitting areas inside for employees to enjoy, giving an opportunity for them to decompress.” The downtown location makes it easy for employees to take public transit, as there are various bus routes that stop nearby. It’s also a short walk to the Winnipeg Art Gallery and MTS Centre, which add to the excitement of the area. With a focus on work-life balance, the campus includes an on-site fitness facility with state-of the-art equipment that is available to employees 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a nominal

fee. And in the 600-seat cafeteria, employees can enjoy a variety of nutritious hot meals created by an executive chef. Many employees also take advantage of the Tim Hortons located right on site. For those looking for after-hours connections with co-workers, the company offers many recreational sports teams from curling to hockey to Ultimate Frisbee. Arts-minded employees can assist in curating the company’s impressive art collection. “We have become a community unto ourselves,” Embury van Wyk says. “Our employees not only contribute through their work but they can also develop their connections with one another and become a community in a greater sense.” With this ongoing commitment to its employees, it’s no surprise that Great-West Life has again been named one of Manitoba’s Top Employers. “It’s great to be recognized,” Embury van Wyk says. “We want to make sure that as an organization, we continue to be forward-thinking and an employer of choice in our region.” ❚

Careers are growing here We’re committed to helping talented and engaged professionals grow their careers with us. Discover your opportunity at:


MAGELLAN MIRRORS MANITOBA’S DIVERSITY Since Manitoba was established as a province in 1870, it has welcomed immigrants from around the world. And as a result, Manitoba is now the most culturally diverse province in Canada, with over 100 languages spoken. We are known as “Friendly Manitoba” as per our licence plates for being warm and friendly, and for our community spirit.


agellan Aerospace, Winnipeg has been a proud part of this vibrant Manitoba community for over 85 years. And like Manitoba, our workforce is as varied and ethnically diverse as the community we are in. Walking through the plant, you don’t need to look very hard before finding recent immigrants, bornand-bred Manitobans with roots generations deep, employees fresh out of school, and others who have been here for decades. Magellan Aerospace, Winnipeg employs them all. Dario Schor, an entry-level software developer who has been with Magellan Aerospace, Winnipeg for three years full-time, and for two stints as a summer student, says he has always had an interest in space. While at the University of Manitoba, his final undergrad project was supported by Magellan Aerospace, and so Dario become even more interested.“A lot of what happens here at Magellan isn’t known in the wider Winnipeg or Manitoba community,” Schor said. Magellan Aerospace, Winnipeg, a division of Magellan Aerospace Limited, manufactures complex aeroengine components and advanced aerostructure assemblies, as well as proprietary products for clients in the commercial aerospace, defence and space sectors. It has two satellite locations — one in Ottawa and another 20 minutes north of Winnipeg, and employs about 700 people.


“Being an engineer at Magellan means getting to see the whole spectrum of a project, from the small bits in a software code to thinking about the entire satellite structure,” says Schor. “There’s a wealth of knowledge here at Magellan that you don’t see in other places because they’ve been around since the beginning of the space race with the Black Brant rockets, and they are still on the cutting edge of technology, with projects like the RADARSAT Constellation Mission group of satellites. “Magellan is a big company, but the work they do is so varied. Everyone is on small teams, which means you get to do a bit of everything.”

“Magellan is a big company, but the work they do is so varied. Everyone is on small teams, which means you get to do a bit of everything.”

Arlene Batario, a master scheduler who started at Magellan nine months ago, is a recent immigrant from the Philippines. She came to Manitoba with her family in March 2015, and Magellan is her first job in Canada that fully uses her considerable experience from back in the Philippines. “I wanted to work for a good company, a big company and a friend that I worked with at my old job in the Philippines said that I should apply at Magellan Aerospace, Winnipeg,” Batario said. “She works here, too.” “I really like Magellan because everyone is very kind and very accepting. Even if there is a bit of a language barrier, everyone is very good at communicating so everyone understands,” Batario said. “After I started here, my husband also got a job at Magellan. I really like that the company allows family to work together — so many companies don’t. And I like how there are company events for my entire family to participate in.” Internally, Magellan’s employee-driven Social

and Welfare Association plans two festive holiday parties — one for the adults, and one for children. They also organize the annual summer picnic at Tinkertown for employees and their families, and provide benefits for members such as education bursaries, wedding and baby gifts, and benevolent assistance. Magellan Aerospace participates in many group charitable events, such as CancerCare Manitoba’s Dragon Boat Festival, Heart and Stroke’s Big Bike, and the United Way Plane Pull. These group events let people mix and mingle, and support causes that help the local community. Damien Boyle is a manufacturing engineering planner with Magellan Aerospace, Winnipeg, a role he has filled for nearly four years. “I had spent 10 years working in the automotive industry in Ireland, which is where I am from, and I had wanted a change. Magellan presented the opportunity for the big change I had been looking for — a new country, and a new industry,” Boyle said. “I really enjoy Magellan Aerospace because of the challenges, and the wide range of disciplines all under one roof. No two days are exactly the same. I am constantly introduced to new ideas and processes — there is never a dull moment.” Milan Kucinic is currently a manual welder, although he has had many roles with Magellan throughout his 50 years with the company. “I moved to Magellan (formerly Bristol Aerospace) from Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). CPR was no life — always moving, always away from home,” Kucinic said. “Magellan offered good, secure employment for good money. I wanted to learn the trades, and then open my own business. But then my family came along, and I got comfortable at Magellan. I’ve stayed so long because of the people that work here, and the knowledge that I’ve gained. There was always an opportunity to learn something new.” In recognizing Magellan Aerospace, Winnipeg as one of Manitoba’s Top Employers, we are recognizing a very diverse workforce. That diversity of perspectives that Magellan employees bring to work every day and their willingness to work together is what makes Magellan Winnipeg one of Manitoba’s Top Employers. ❚


Magellan Aerospace, Winnipeg is a leading Canadian aerospace company with over 85 years of experience in the global aerospace industry. Magellan offers exciting career opportunities in a variety of disciplines. We know that personal and professional development is fundamental to the success of every individual, and every individual is fundamental to the success of our business. When you’re part of Magellan, you’re part of a team. Ready to launch your career? See what opportunities await at: Magellan Aerospace, Winnipeg A Division of Magellan Aerospace Limited 660 Berry Street, P.O. Box 874, Winnipeg, MB R3C 2S4 Fax: 204 774 0195



The Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation has emerged once again among the cream of the crop of employers across the province.


n fact, the employees are the ones who planted the seed for the grassroots initiative to involve the organization in the annual competition. “This is the third year that we’ve had the honour of being named one of Manitoba’s Top Employers. We’re very proud of that fact and we’re also very proud of our staff,” says MASC President and CEO Neil Hamilton. “When we first started this process, it was a staffdriven activity to apply. They felt it was important to do this.” The Crown corporation, which provides lending and insurance services to Manitoba’s farmers and rural communities, was formed in 2005 through the amalgamation of the Manitoba Crop Insurance Corporation and the Manitoba Agricultural Credit

Corporation, with its corporate offices in Portage la Prairie and Brandon. With 150 full-time and 185 part-time staff members, MASC serves a clientele that includes more than 10,000 agricultural operations across the province. In addition, the organization also administers a number of agriculture-related programs, including ad-hoc emergency assistance programs, and the provincial Farmland School Tax Rebate program. “I think it gives staff a sense of accomplishment to be able to step in and deliver these programs effectively,” Hamilton says. “There’s not much in agriculture that we don’t touch in one form or another.” To start things off, new employees are welcomed

through a daylong corporate orientation session held twice a year. “All executive members, and some managers, participate actively in these orientation sessions. Each executive member talks about their division and what they do to provide new staff with a general overview of the corporation. Hopefully at the end of it, employees feel that they have a better understanding of MASC as a whole and how they fit into it. It’s also an opportunity to raise any issues if they want to,” Hamilton says. And it’s easy to see why the workforce appreciates their involvement with MASC. “We have a host of excellent benefits. We also have worked really hard on succession planning, and we’re big proponents on hiring from within. Five out of six of our executive management team members have worked their way up in our organization. Over the last five years, 60 per cent of the full-time positions have been hired from internal candidates, so we put a high value on that.” For the benefit of all involved, MASC maintains a focus on ongoing training and development, which is particularly important since everything from accounting to agronomy is done in house. “We’ve also done some cross-training between divisions and moved people from one area to another, which goes part and parcel with succession planning.” And when employees mark milestone anniversaries with MASC, there is always time to take a moment and celebrate their success. “We have service awards once people reach 10 years and every five years thereafter,” he says. “The vice-president in charge of the staff member and myself are involved in making those presentations. We also have retirement celebrations.” Seeing the value in face-to-face interactions, Hamilton aims to visit the majority of offices across the province at least once a year. For human resources manager Linda Volek, it’s also important to maintain a focus on work-life

balance and to create a collaborative culture. “We have a wide range of people in our workforce all working together. We have people in their 20s who are just starting their careers, and we have adjustors who are in their 70s,” Volek says. “Often our seasoned people are very happy to share their knowledge and mentor those who are coming up through the ranks. It’s very collaborative and there is a lot of teamwork involved.” All employees are valued by the company, which fosters a sense of camaraderie through events organized by its social committees and staff relations committee, such as summer BBQs and monthly luncheons. MASC employees can also be seen participating in community events, like the annual All Charities Campaign and the

With 150 full-time and 185 part-time staff members, MASC serves a clientele that includes more than 10,000 agricultural operations across the province.

dragon boat race for the Canadian Cancer Society. This year, MASC’s team “Hunt for the Cure” paddled its way to finish in first place, for a second year in a row, as raising the most funds for an individual team. MASC is proud to help grow rural communities and improve the lives of rural Manitobans. Its success though is simply a reflection of its staff, who are passionate about what they do. Being named one of Manitoba’s Top Employers goes right back to the value MASC places on its employees. ❚



For more information about rewarding career opportunities with MASC, visit



By Holli Moncrieff

Manitoba Hydro prides itself on being one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers.


his commitment to diversity helps make the company a more representative and inclusive place to work,” says Gary Maksymyk, Manitoba Hydro’s Human Resources Division Manager. “When you have employees from different backgrounds, you have a broader range of perspectives, skills and experiences, and more creative ways of solving problems.” Five innovative programs ensure Manitoba Hydro’s 6,000 employees are among the most diverse in the country. The Disability Access Program helps people with intellectual disabilities integrate into the workforce through vocational assessments, on-the-job training and coaching. “A lot of people have found roles within our company through this program,” Maksymyk says. Manitoba Hydro has also partnered with the nonprofit SCE Lifeworks to offer Project SEARCH, a unique employment transition program for high school students with developmental disabilities. “Through Project SEARCH we provide work experience placements for students with developmental disabilities who are in their final year of high school,” says Maksymyk. “Students rotate through the company, getting exposure to different jobs, so when they graduate they can say they have meaningful work experience to take them into the future.” Another aspect of Manitoba Hydro’s diversity programming are the Aboriginal Pre-Placement Programs (three in total).These are seven-to-10 months in duration and provide orientation to different technical trades, on-the-job training, and academic upgrading. Participants are paid during the training, and are able to acquire the necessary prerequisites to enter Manitoba Hydro’s trades apprenticeship program upon completion. “There are always people retiring or working their way up through the company. We want to ensure we maintain the required number of employees in these

specialized trades and our Pre-Placement programs play an important role,” Maksymyk says. Of the 430 people who have been hired into the program since it began in 1998, 360 have moved into permanent jobs at Manitoba Hydro. “Our Aboriginal Pre-Placement programs have played a significant role in increasing indigenous employment at Manitoba Hydro,” he adds. Manitoba Hydro also offers an Indigenous Cultural Awareness workshop for employees. All employees are encouraged to participate in the two-day sessions. “These sessions are designed to give non-indigenous employees some background to the indigenous way of life,” explains Maksymyk. “This program really allows employees to be exposed to the history, cultures and traditions of indigenous communities. “We’re working up in northern Manitoba building a new generating station and transmission project, and after these sessions, our employees have a better understanding and appreciation of the indigenous way of life.” The company’s Internationally Educated Engineers Qualification (IEEQ) program is a partnership with the University of Manitoba to assist engineering graduates who have obtained their undergraduate degree outside of Canada. This program helps international engineers acquire their provincial accreditation. “There are lots of people with engineering degrees from other countries that aren’t recognized here,” Maksymyk says. “The benefit for us is that we can hire these people once they have upgraded through the U of M IEEQ program.” This is the seventh consecutive year Manitoba Hydro has ranked as one of Manitoba’s Top Employers. It has also been one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the past six years. The company is committed to diversity and having a workforce that is representative of the communities it serves. ❚

Generating bright futures

Proud to be recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers & Manitoba’s Top Employers for the 7th consecutive year.


There has never been a more exciting time to join Manitoba Hydro.



diverse & challenging work • work-life balance protect the environment • great benefits

Visit us at




It has become common knowledge that employees who feel appreciated tend to stick around.


anitoba Liquor & Lotteries goes to great lengths to celebrate and reward its 3,000 employees, providing them with a competitive benefits program, professional development training, and a variety of other opportunities. It’s no surprise they’ve been one of Manitoba’s Top Employers since 2007. Rob Campbell, the Vice-President of Human Resources, says the company’s employees are a vital part of the organization’s success. “The number one part of working here is the people — we have a terrific group of people,” he says. “We have a great employee rewards and recognition program that applauds their volunteerism, safety, customer service and long-time service, among other things.” Volunteerism is a major part of the company’s culture. Those who apply to work at Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries tend to value giving back to their communities. “We support a lot of sporting programs, festivals and events throughout Manitoba so there are lots of opportunities for our employees to volunteer,” says Campbell. “The support we provide to the community has a powerful impact on Manitobans.” Last year Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries employees donated 8,600 hours of their own time to volunteer at different charities and events. Campbell says the company is hoping to hit 10,000 hours this year. “We support more than 700 non-profit charitable organizations through both financial support and volunteering. Our employees work over 100 shifts per year at Winnipeg Harvest and Siloam Mission,” he says. “The way it makes them feel when they

go out to one of these events and see the looks on people’s faces and the thank yous they get — it really resonates with them.” There are many opportunities for employees to advance within the organization, which are assisted through training courses. The majority of management positions are filled internally, and Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries reimburses both full and part-time employees for their continuing education. “Our training programs help attract and retain our employees. Some of the areas we have training in include technology, health and wellness, and leadership — our training programs are so diverse,” Campbell says. “Offering employees access to training online is a critical part of being able to reach


out to our employees across the province.” Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries employees enjoy other benefits, such as competitive salaries, an employee wellness program, and an employee assistance program (EAP). A new flexible benefits program gives employees the ability to choose from a variety of benefits to design a plan that suits their needs. “Through the new program, we provide our employees with a good range of benefits so each employee can choose a plan that works best for them,” says Campbell, adding that employees have the opportunity to change their plan every two years should something in their life change, such as getting married or having children. Ongoing recognition is key to making sure

employees realize how valued they are. “We strive to give our employees on-the-spot recognition for doing a great job, and we also hold an annual event to celebrate all our volunteers, including employees, alumni, family and friends,” Campbell says. “If the family and friends of an employee want to volunteer to help with one of our events, they can. “From the casinos to our Liquor Marts, our lines of business are so interesting. It’s a really exciting place to work,” he adds. “The people who are interested in working here love to provide service. They want to meet your needs, and they want you to leave satisfied.” ❚




Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI), celebrating its fourth consecutive year as one of Manitoba’s Top Employers, is still dedicated to striving to boost the day-to-day and overall job satisfaction for the corporation’s more than 2,000 employees.


ven after being recognized with this important designation for many years now, we are still looking for ways to improve our staff experience. We want to empower our employees to help shape their workplaces and our corporate goals,” said Shannon Leppky, MPI’s VicePresident of Human Resources and Chief Human Resources Officer. The non-profit Crown Corporation is dedicated to working with Manitobans to reduce risk on the road through providing automobile insurance, driver and vehicle licensing services as well as being active road safety partners with many local groups and organizations. Being a province-wide employer with claims and

service centres in 13 communities across Manitoba, the challenge of ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to have their voice heard is an important tenet of MPI’s engagement strategy. To do so, back in early 2015, MPI reached out to their workforce through an employment engagement survey with the goal of harnessing the group’s ideas and fostering inclusiveness. “We wanted to work on evolving our corporate culture. The theme of the survey was accountability, collaboration and innovation,” said Leppky. The survey yielded an employee engagement score of 68 per cent with an 86 per cent participation rate. While solid, the score showed there was room to make improvements to a workplace that was

already regarded as one of the best in the province. “It showed us that there was a definite opportunity to get better,” said Leppky. “The survey, which was done for us by IBM, identified opportunities to increase employee engagement and enablement.” In short, employees at MPI wanted to feel they were viewed as key contributors in the corporation’s success. They also wanted to be given the tools and knowledge that would enable them to be key contributors. The management team at MPI took the survey to heart, knowing they needed to continue working directly with staff to build on the excellent programs and employment opportunities already in place. “One of the first things we did was provide opportunities for staff to contribute to initiatives such as corporate culture where staff, using their discretionary time, meet and discuss ideas to make their workplace a great place to work.” Leppky said. With a strong internal culture, the survey also identified that participating in bettering the communities in which staff work, live and play was also a top priority. “Our workforce is intimately involved with the United Way — an involvement that’s grown year over year. We have a large committee of volunteers who are proud of where they work and who love to get involved in the community,” Leppky said. That dedication led to record giving to the United Way last year — which also meant having a little fun along the way. “Our staff ’s favourite activity was a chili cookoff with over 40 participants, who cooked up different recipes and served them in our new and improved lunch room for other employees to sample,” Leppky said. “The lunch room is a bright, updated and eco-friendly area where they can enjoy their surroundings and sit and talk with each other in a comfortable, contemporary atmosphere.” Another form of engagement comes from MPI’s Chief Executive Officer, Dan Guimond, who makes a point of allowing plenty of “face time” for employees via two initiatives.

The corporation continually grows and trains staff so they can graduate to different positions as they gain experience in how the corporation works.

“He just finished his second tour of an engagement initiative called ‘Discussions with Dan,’ where he visits service centres across the province to field ideas and answer questions from staff members,” Leppky said. The other initiative is called “Breakfast with Dan.” “That involves Dan sitting down to breakfast with 15 to 20 employees in a boardroom so they can ask him questions in a casual environment,” she said. “It’s very important to Dan to be accessible to our employees. He wants them to know they’re free to reach out to him at any time.” MPI is committed to creating a diverse community in their workplace, as well as recognizing the contributions of longtime staff members. With almost five per cent of its team choosing to stay for more than three decades, MPI is proud to display such strong workforce retention promise among a variety of age groups ranging from under age 25 to over age 61. The corporation continually grows and trains staff so they can graduate to different positions as they gain experience in how the corporation works. “About 13 per cent of our promotions and approximately 78 per cent of management opportunities are filled from within,” Leppky said. “There’s a lot of good stuff going on here. We try to engage employees, the work environment is good, there’s an emphasis on the well-being of our employees. All those things contribute to a workplace that empowers our staff to flourish and provides a consistently high level of customer service day in and day out.” ❚


Drive your career forward.

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When it comes to growing Manitoba’s economy and driving innovation in education, Red River College plays a vital role in preparing students and industry for the economic and job opportunities of today and tomorrow.


his important job is in the hands of Red River College employees, who are extremely dedicated and passionate about making a difference in the lives of students, as well as working in cooperation with industry and the broader community. RRC recognizes the commitment of its employees and tries to return the favour by ensuring the College provides an environment where staff are supported and encouraged to build meaningful careers. With hundreds of employees spread out across nine campuses throughout the province, it is important to listen and engage employees at every possible opportunity, said RRC’s human resources

director, Melanie Gudmundson. “We’re always working hard to get input from employees,” she said, adding that RRC has a workforce of about 2,300 employees. “That’s absolutely critical to the success of any workplace initiatives we conceive. Listening to our employees’ needs is the only way to ensure those initiatives meet their needs.” First and foremost, there’s a culture that’s cultivated at all levels of Red River College, where everyone places an emphasis on creating a positive workplace environment. “It’s something that will never stop — our efforts


to continue to build on creating a welcoming, supportive environment for our employees. The College is like a community unto itself, so we want to ensure it’s a welcoming and inclusive community,” said Gudmundson. “That comes from being considerate of our employees’ needs in a variety of areas.” That considerate approach shows up in several key areas. First, RRC offers its employees a flexible benefit plan. “It just makes sense,” said Gudmundson. “Our benefit plan is not only comprehensive (for example, health and dental) but it also offers choice to our employees. There are a number of different options available. That way, they can choose the plan that’s the best choice for their individual situation.” Next, employees’ health and wellness are taken into consideration at all of RRC’s campuses, which include four in Winnipeg, as well as regional campuses in Steinbach, Winkler, Portage la Prairie, Selkirk and Peguis-Fisher River. “We have on-site gym facilities at several campuses that offer a number of fitness classes at lunch hour and at the end of the day. The gym is also open to employees at all times. We also try to build in opportunities for employee members to take time off, and provide paid days off over the Christmas holidays. The on-site daycare facility is also a real benefit to employees.” An effort is also made to ensure that RRC has an inclusive workplace, added Gudmundson. “That inclusive climate highlights diversity and offers the opportunity for a wide range of individuals to serve on committees to provide input — we really want to give employees a voice here. We just completed an Inclusive Campus Climate review. The review helps us validate workplace initiatives, and provide recommendations for further enhancements to initiatives.” Another focus is on employees’ overall wellbeing, something that many organizations can overlook. “It might seem like a small thing, but we promote activities that empower our employees to take charge of their own wellness,” she said. “All areas are covered, from emotional to physical, to intellectual, financial and spiritual. It’s important to help employees find balance in those areas — it helps them perform better not only at work, but

in their life outside of work.” A novel workplace initiative — a peer-topeer recognition program — has also been well received, said Gudmundson. “It’s an initiative that came from a very diverse committee — for employees to recognize the good work of other employees.” She added that the premise of the initiative is quite simple. “It involves one employee sending a handwritten note to another to commend them on their excellent work. It also involves a points system where employees can accumulate points and then redeem them for what we call homegrown rewards – gift cards to internal food services, or getting an in-house oil change for your car as examples. People really appreciate positive feedback, and receive personalized recognition.” Last but not least is an ongoing commitment to employee development.

The entire College community is also proud the institution has been recognized as one Canada’s most diverse and inclusive — as well as greenest — employers.

“Learning is at the heart of what we do as an educational institution, so employee development really matters here,” Gudmundson said. “With that in mind, we recently held an employee development day with over 25 academic and nonacademic sessions. Events like that — and the opportunity to take courses that add to their skill set — allow employees to get better at what they do, and develop into other positions.” The entire College community is also proud the institution has been recognized as one of Canada’s most diverse and inclusive — as well as greenest — employers. We take great pride in creating a welcoming, supportive, diverse and inclusive work environment for our employees,” she said. “That focus will continue in the years to come.” ❚


With more than 2,300 full-time and part-time employees, Red River College is a place of energy, opportunity, and inspiration. We care about our employees and offer an innovative, progressive workplace. Review our current employment opportunities at


HOW A 20 YEAR CRUSADE TO PREVENT ILLNESS HELPED CREATE A TOP WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENT A community hospital’s 20-year crusade to prevent chronic disease has also created a culture of innovation and purpose that is attracting and retaining high performing healthcare professionals.


n the 1990s Seven Oaks General Hospital in the northwest corner of Winnipeg wanted to do more to prevent chronic disease and to help patients manage their own chronic disease with lifestyle change. The Wellness Institute, an 80,000 square-foot medical fitness facility attached to and integrated with Seven Oaks General Hospital opened its doors Oct. 17, 1996. That experiment has helped a generation of children to get the right start for an active and healthy life and a generation of older adults to stay active and independent and out of hospital. That has obvious benefits for their quality of life, but also benefits for the public and the health system that suggest Wellness can do even more over the next 20 years. Over the last 20 years there were 6 million visits to Wellness Institute, a lot of them repeat visits by a strong core of 6,500-7,000 members, but also many patients participating in shorter term specialty programs for people with serious illness. Almost 500 patients per year who have had a heart attack learn to change their lifestyle which means that over the last 20 years 8,000 additional heart attacks have been prevented. Health education programs to help people learn to cope with specific conditions reached 48,000 people, and 8500 people have learned to manage their Type 2 diabetes with a focus on diet and exercise in order to avoid common complications such as heart and kidney disease. A comparatively smaller number of patients with chronic lung disease, about 60 per year, participate in Pulmonary Rehabilitation. They see a huge personal benefit in their own quality of life, but the program also prevents emergency visits and hospital admissions costing $5,000 per patient per year. That’s a projected $6 million in healthcare costs avoided over the next 20 years without any expansion in the program. This is just a snapshot of the results possible by supporting active and healthy aging as a social goal and purpose, but it also points to the opportunity to see medical fitness as a strategy for reducing the overall burden of disease and healthcare costs. Integration at Seven Oaks goes both ways with Wellness on a mission to help people stay better and out of hospital, but also helping the hospital to keep its own employees healthy and safe. Wellness and injury prevention programs are a core strategy for workplace health that has made Seven Oaks a Top 100 Employer in Canada three times and a perennial Top Employer in Manitoba. Operating Wellness Institute as a successful, self-sustaining non-profit business has earned the hospital a reputation as a leader in medical fitness internationally leading to international consulting and training contracts in China that are helping Seven Oaks make a difference globally as well as diversifying its business to sustain the operation in Winnipeg.

Operating Wellness Institute as a successful, self-sustaining nonprofit business has earned the hospital a reputation as a leader in medical fitness internationally leading to international consulting and training contracts in China that are helping Seven Oaks make a difference globally as well as diversifying its business to sustain the operation in Winnipeg. As Wellness Institute begins its third decade of innovation, Seven Oaks Hospital is charging ahead again with yet more innovation in patient care and treatment by addressing the chronic diseases that are responsible for a majority of hospital admissions and death in Canada. The Seven Oaks Hospital Chronic Disease Innovation Centre (CDIC) is Manitoba’s newest research institute. It’s dedicated to medical research and healthcare innovation to prevent chronic disease and is working on screening methods and technology for earlier and better identification, costeffective and improved treatment models to keep more patients with chronic disease healthy in their own homes. Wellness and CDIC have drawn younger people with a different kind of expertise, in fitness, wellness, data science, epidemiology and healthcare economics that are now part of the caring community at Seven Oaks General Hospital. The opportunity to make a difference has always attracted dedicated people to work in healthcare. At Seven Oaks General Hospital the additional sense of purpose from working for an organization working to change the way healthcare is delivered has amplified employee engagement and the workplace culture. Deliberate dedicated strategies, research and constant evaluation, is driving that engagement by staff who understand the value to patients and to their own job satisfaction in constant improvement for patient safety and quality, but also a constant contribution to improve the workplace for themselves and co-workers that has made their workplace one of Manitoba’s Top Employers again for 2017. You can find out more about how innovation at Seven Oaks Hospital is changing the way healthcare is delivered in an online video, just released this month, at More about the Wellness Institute is available at For CDIC see ❚



Over the years, St. John’s-Ravenscourt School has been one of the province’s most successful educational institutions. It graduates close to 100 students each year, with virtually all those grads being accepted by universities before moving on to successful careers in their chosen fields.


ead of School Jim Keefe says St. John’sRavenscourt’s success in that regard is due largely to a strong partnership between the school’s students, parents and staff, all of whom are committed to providing the best possible learning environment for young people. “I think that’s a pretty crucial factor. When those three individual units work together, you get a very powerful synergy,” Keefe says. “When you look at the engagement of our parents and our students to the school community it’s quite incredible. I’m here at work now (at 8 a.m.) and… we’ve probably already got 250 people on campus,

whether it’s for a sports practice, an academic club or music rehearsal.” While it’s an equal partnership, Keefe acknowledges St. John’s-Ravenscourt staff play a critical role in helping develop the leaders of tomorrow. The school’s workforce is comprised of 136 full-time and 26 part-time employees at its junior, middle and senior schools and includes everyone from teachers to finance, administrative support, maintenance, kitchen and arena staff. Many have been at the kindergarten to Grade 12 school for 25 years or more; a fact that is honoured on a plaque in the St. John’s-Ravenscourt dining hall.

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“That’s pretty common here,” Keefe says. “A lot of it has to do with the strength of community and the quality of relationships that they build up. There’s a real connection (to the school and students). I’ve been here three years now and I feel immensely connected to the school.” Keefe says the school has made a concerted effort to attract and retain staff over the years. That might explain why the school has been a fixture on the list of Manitoba’s Top Employers. This marks the ninth year in a row St. John’sRavenscourt has been recognized as one of the province’s 25 leading employers for its efforts in creating an exceptional workplace. “It’s something we’re phenomenally proud of, and it’s a testament to the work of our faculty and staff and everything they do here,” he says. “It all goes back to the strength of our community and the strength of relationships we have with all our constituents.” One of the keys to developing that strength has been the school’s support of continuous learning opportunities for its staff. It regularly supports staff who wish to enter a master’s program and offers ongoing support for personal development via clear goal-setting for employees. “Like the rest of the world, education is changing at a phenomenal rate and it’s important that we provide opportunities for our staff to develop so they can provide the very best 21st century learning environment for our students,” Keefe says. In addition to academic growth, St. John’sRavenscourt staff have an opportunity to focus on physical development. All staff have access to the school’s new state-of-the-art Riley Fitness Centre, which is open to students and staff weekdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features a gymnasium and a full selection of exercise equipment. They can also enjoy hot and healthy lunches prepared onsite at the school’s well-appointed dining hall. Most faculty and staff are also provided with their own personal laptop computer. St. John’s-Ravenscourt has also been extremely supportive when it comes to encouraging staff

to get involved in the community at large. For example, two members of staff recently led a group of SJR students as part of a community development project in Ecuador. “It’s part of broadening the perspective of our students,” Keefe says. “Our faculty and staff do a tremendous amount to engage with the outside community.”

“Like the rest of the world, education is changing at a phenomenal rate and it’s important that we provide opportunities for our staff to develop so they can provide the very best 21st century learning environment for our students.”

As part of its efforts to promote work-life balance, the school provides generous maternity and paternity top-up payments for staff who are new parents. New mothers are eligible for parental leave top-up payments of up to 90 per cent of their salary for 27 weeks and have the option to extend their time off with an unpaid leave of absence. New fathers and adoptive parents can receive parental leave top-ups of 90 per cent for 10 weeks. “Like all institutions, we’re doing what we can for our faculty and staff and recognize their contribution to our success,” Keefe says. “This is just one of the ways of doing that.” Attracting quality staff to St. John’s-Ravenscourt is made easier by its picturesque location, a gorgeous 23-acre campus on the banks of the Red River. “We’re immensely privileged to be where we are,” Keefe says. “I don’t think that’s something we take for granted. Everyone appreciates the facilities we work in and the natural beauty here.” ❚


CONTINUED GROWTH THANKS TO EMPOWERED EMPLOYEES St.Amant wouldn’t be where it is today without their staff and nearly six decades of commitment to supporting children and adults with developmental disabilities and autism. With their hard work, the organization has grown from one building in St. Vital to supporting 1,600 families in over 100 locations across the province. Over 1,800 people are employed by St.Amant across the city and in rural Manitoba in full and part-time positions. Many take on new responsibilities each year.


his past year has been very rewarding. Our organization has experienced a lot of growth and continues to respond to community needs and fulfilour strategic goals. We’re extremely grateful for the dedicated, passionate and innovative staff who work for St.Amant. It’s not every organization that could thrive during the significant evolution we’re experiencing right now,” said John Leggat, President and CEO.

“Working as an emergency foster provider gives a person skills that are invaluable; managing difficult or crisis situations well, giving unconditional care, and experiencing the joy of a child who is achieving successes, perhaps for the first time.” One way the organization continues to grow is with programs like the Emergency Foster Services, which provides temporary support for youth in crisis. Kristen Maddison, a supervisor in that program says, “Working as an emergency foster provider gives a person skills that are invaluable; managing difficult or crisis situations well, giving unconditional care, and experiencing the joy of a child who is achieving

successes, perhaps for the first time. They’re all part of the adventure.” St.Amant continues to improve their work environment. The organization’s cultural awareness week featured meals prepared by staff from their home country, sketches by newcomers on workplace communication, plus a panel discussion with staff about their immigration experiences and challenges. The sketches and the panel created awareness and enlightenment among St.Amant staff and helped open up the door to new and candid discussions related to intercultural communications. It also gave newcomers to Canada the opportunity to share their culture and feel appreciated for their contribution to St.Amant. Newly established this year are weekly huddles held with executive and managers, sharing brief updates on what’s happening in each area and identifying risks. This quick-sharing format has improved communication and team work. St.Amant continues to hold large town halls that are live-streamed and then archived on their YouTube channel. Offsite staff can submit questions through the online suggestion box or via text message. St.Amant has seen their engagement scores increase in their annual engagement survey. Next year St.Amant hosts the Canadian Conference on Developmental Disabilities and Autism for the 25th time, providing staff an exceptional professional development and networking opportunity. The two-day conference brings experts to Winnipeg to address the latest trends in the field of developmental disabilities and autism without the expense of

leaving the province, ensuring all 1,800 staff have access to quality development. In addition to the annual conference, St.Amant provides generous professional development for all areas of the organization. St.Amant has begun training at executive, managerial and supervisory level in leadership coaching. St.Amant employees are generous and definitely care about the people they support. In fact, St.Amant has one of the highest staff engagement rates in fundraising to support the St.Amant Foundation. Every year, staff volunteer at the St.Amant Foundation’s signature fundraising event, the St.Amant Free the Spirit Festival. “Money raised at the Festival has lasting effects all year long, from new connections made through the St.Amant Leisure Guide, to people attending hockey games and receiving new customized wheelchairs or equipment. Staff see the benefits of their donations and volunteer efforts.” said Juliette Mucha, Director of the St.Amant Foundation. Staff are truly part of the community and also support other local charities such as Christmas Cheer Board, Winnipeg Harvest, Manitoba Marathon, Dragon Boat Festival and Movement Centre Bike Race. St.Amant is proud of their work environment and their dedication to continually improve the culture making them one of the top employers in Manitoba for a sixth year. ❚


Start a career, change a life This is our 6th year recognized as a Top Employer. 

Excellent benefits and pension plan

Quality professional development

Variety of employment opportunities

And most of all MEANINGFUL WORK.




It’s hard to believe the clean, quiet space inside one of the big StandardAero plants adjacent to Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport is an aircraft engine maintenance shop.


he brightly lit building is filled with men and women quietly taking apart, inspecting, cleaning and repairing airplane engines — with no grease spills, stains, fumes or loud noises. The company’s work environment is just one of the reasons the 105-year-old firm is one of Manitoba’s Top Employers. Another is the close-knit community feeling among the company’s employees, for whom the saying “we’re one big family” isn’t necessarily an exaggeration. “It’s totally family friendly,” says Riel Policar, a recent graduate of the company-created Gas Turbine Repair and Overall Technician (GTRO) program who has followed his father into working at the organization. “I remember as a kid looking forward to the family Christmas party every year.” Stacey McLeish, Vice-President, Human Resources, says family connections aren’t uncommon among StandardAero’s 1,200 Winnipeg employees. Policar’s pathway to working at StandardAero was created by the company, in partnership with Red River College and Apprenticeship Manitoba. The GTRO program begins at Red River’s Stevenson Campus, where students practise technical skills and learn engine theory. Then they move to StandardAero’s in-house technical training facility for more engine theory, training on the company’s in-house systems, hands-on experience assembling and dissembling engines and the chance to become familiar with the specific engines they’ll service on the job. One of the advantages of the program is that workers learn how to do things the StandardAero way. They learn the company’s operational systems, language and culture. “The training team is really helpful,” Policar says. “It was a smooth transition to the workplace.”

“We needed people who could hit the ground running,” says McLeish. “We saw a void and so we worked with government and Red River College to create a program.” For Production Engineer Graciela Manaois the GTRO program was an opportunity to find a career that fit her educational background. She came to Canada with a chemical engineering degree from a university in her native Philippines, but thought she might have to work in field far removed from her studies. “I was thinking, ‘I’m an engineer, I’d like to go back to my engineering roots,’” she says. After graduating in 2009 from the GTRO program, she began working at StandardAero as a technician focusing on an engine part called a compressor stator. A few years later, she looked for ways of advancing within the company and discovered StandardAero offers tuition assistance up to $5,250 per year for employees seeking to upgrade their skills. She applied for Red River College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program and, with company support, began studying part-time at Red River while holding down her full-time job at StandardAero. Since graduating from the Red River program, she’s been working as a production engineer, responsible for overseeing aspects of repair and overhaul work. Training, whether involving Manitoba schools, colleges or universities, or in-house programs, is important to the company and its people. And after recruiting and training employees to have highly specific skills, StandardAero works to create an environment they will want to remain in. The StandardAero Recreation Association and other employee-based committees look after social events including a family picnic and an annual lunch for 1,200-plus with the CEO. Social activities


include hockey, curling, basketball and slo-pitch leagues, garden and photo clubs and noon-hour lunch-and-learn sessions. Volunteering is also a big part of the company’s social environment, with company teams participating in fundraisers for the Canadian Cancer Society, the MS Society, the United Way and more. Workplace communication also brings employees together. The company carries out an annual Positive Employee Relations survey and hosts focus groups to gather feedback. Regular town halls with the company vice-presidents and meetings for work units (known as cells), as well as daily “stand-up” meetings keep information flowing. Seeking ideas from all employees is part of the company’s culture.

“That is integral to our culture,” says McLeish. “Everyone’s opinion matters. Everyone is responsible for safety and improvement.” To help the company find workers with the right skills and attitudes, StandardAero offers a bonus, typically $250, for employees who refer somebody to the company for a job. Competitive salary and benefits, including eye care and orthodontic coverage, are another part of the company’s strategy for being a top employer. All of that adds up to a workforce with a strong long-term commitment. “We do a lot of 20-, 25-, 30-year celebrations,” McLeish says, noting that one employee at the company has been there for 55 years. “Even after retirement it remains a tight-knit community.” ❚


TRUE ENGAGEMENT WE ARE TRUE NORTH. It’s not just a statement, it’s a way of life for employees at True North Sports + Entertainment. Those four words exemplify how employees value their culture, ignore trends and do what is best for patrons and fellow employees. True North employees also sweat the details, commit to projects, stay committed and contribute to the betterment of the community.


e have been humbled to hear from patrons about the emotional connection they have with True North,” says John Olfert, Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer. “Whether that be with a player, a team, a game or an event in one of our venues, or by following the work our organization does to promote and grow our city and province.” “Our culture and people trump everything we do,” says Dawn Haus, Vice-President of Human Resources. “We’re really focused on the values of our organization. We want to live them in our

everyday, and we’re taking the next steps to bring our values into our day-to-day operations. For example, continuous improvement is one of our values — learning and development is a focus going forward.” In their 10th consecutive year as one of Manitoba’s Top Employers, True North has implemented learning and development initiatives, including the principle-based Franklin Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which includes making wellbeing a priority. The organization recently revamped its health

and wellness program to concentrate on motivating and inspiring all-around well-being. In addition to exercise, it includes activities and events related to nutrition, reading and community involvement. True North has 220 full-time employees and a part-time group of staff of over 1,200-strong. Employees enjoy a variety of activities, such as a casino night in the summer, a holiday skate in the winter, and regular organization-wide lunches celebrating milestones. “We have a great group of people who work hard throughout the year and we are always looking for ways to demonstrate how much we appreciate the work they do,” says Haus. Each summer a special employee event is planned — this past year, many employees took the day away from their work to attend a special Camp Day at Camp Manitou that featured activities and team-building. During busy stretches in the event calendar, event staff are provided with themed break rooms that include free snacks. True North employees can also access a free onsite gym, and health and dental benefits that are fully paid for by the company with no deductible. True North has also implemented new employee communication tools, including a quarterly publication called Our True North that focuses on showcasing the culture and telling the stories of True North employees. While many associate True North with the Winnipeg Jets or the MTS Centre, they also own and operate the Manitoba Moose, the MTS Iceplex and the Burton Cummings Theatre. The True North Youth Foundation is the charitable arm of the organization and supports youth in a range of activities and wellness programming through the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy, Project 11 and Camp Manitou. True North Real Estate Development is leading the transformative development of True North Square, a four-tower complex set to invigorate and engage people to live, work and thrive in downtown Winnipeg. This breadth of True North entities revealed a

True North has also implemented new employee communication tools, including a quarterly publication called Our True North that focuses on showcasing the culture and telling the stories of True North employees. need to refocus on brand and identity this past year. “Rapid growth and resulting diversity prompted us to ask ourselves, ‘Who are we?’” says Olfert. “Our process, driven by our stakeholders, brought us to the answer: We are One, We are True North.” To see how We Are True North is engrained and embraced in the company’s corporate culture, visit its new website,, that supports its core statement. And, the next time you arrive for an event at the MTS Centre, check out section 330/301 in the upper bowl. That’s where you’ll find the “True North notch.” With its contrasting “Winnipeg Jets hornet silver” seating that starts wide at the bottom, becoming narrow at the top of the section, this notch represents our true north, which provides employees direction and guides their values in everything they do. To prove how True North sweats the details, the company actually site-surveyed the notch, starting at the centre ice dot to the top of the section, to ensure the “arrow” points in true-north alignment. If seeing is believing, so is hearing. The True North shout-out during the Canadian anthem is a testament to the community’s positive connection to “True North,” when you hear this, know there is a dynamic team of employees who are encouraged and humbled to hear it. ❚






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When it comes to recognition for business excellence, some organizations may see it as acknowledgement they’ve done more than enough, and should be satisfied. It’s even possible for them to become stagnant, since they’ve got an award-winning formula.


owever, the management team at the Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA) isn’t taking the feat of winning their sixth consecutive Manitoba’s Top Employers award for granted, said Kim Bilcowski, the WAA’s Director, People and Culture. “While we’re excited to have won the award for the sixth year in a row, that won’t change our focus,” she said. “We will continue our journey to connect our employees to our mission and values in the pursuit of providing the highest possible level of customer service.” With that goal in mind, the WAA’s management will continue with an initiative that was introduced over the past few years. The goal? To continually improve service for every interaction — whether for travellers, airport visitors or staff. This is because the WAA believes there’s no ceiling in the pursuit of excellence. Their leadership team believes that is instrumental to customer service, and rings true to the company’s business philosophy. Bilcowski said to do it justice, employees and management need to navigate with the same co-ordinates in an active way. “To succeed as an organization, you always need to know where you’re going — you have to know what your mission, vision, values and business strategy are,” she said. “Our job as a management team is to keep our employees connected to what we’re doing as a business. This ensures they can perform their jobs to the best of their ability.” To accomplish that, management goes to great lengths to involve staff in day-to-day operations. Employees receive regular bulletins, are notified via WAA’s intranet, and attend quarterly catered staff meetings where management apprises staff about current events at the company. Managers

also provide regular department updates to staff members. That’s not all, said Bilcowski. “We also conduct regular employee surveys, collect the information, and then actually do something with it. One of the results that came from collecting that information in 2016 was a customized leadership program we launched this year. It’s a big deal for us, as listening and acting on employee suggestions makes the workplace better for everyone involved.” Team-building activities are also a priority at the WAA. Management regularly hosts team-based activities such as recreational lunches and holidaythemed parties. Other examples of team-building activities include a “pool” party (a favourite of billiards players), employee softball tournaments and a WAA hockey team. Overall, the WAA’s management team encourages staff to build their community — externally and internally. The overall idea is to build chemistry in the process of having fun doing different activities together. “As management, our attitude toward employees is ‘we know you’re working hard, but don’t forget to have fun.’ For example, during the summer, as in many workplaces, employees had to cover for other staff members who’d gone on holidays. To have some fun during this time, we held scavenger hunts in the terminal and online. We also asked staff to take selfies while they were searching. Overall, the activities encouraged them get to know each other a little better.” Additional team-building events have included a plane pull for the United Way, Habitat for Humanity’s Adopt-a-Day, and Winnipeg Harvest’s Grow a Row. “We work on creating an enjoyable team


atmosphere every day,” said Bilcowski. “Right now, our staff is excited about the United Way’s Koats for Kids program. Getting the balance right between work and fun makes for a more positive, productive workplace.” So too does a focus on wellness. There are two gyms at the airport for staff to use — and plenty of wellness-related initiatives for them to take part in. Wellness initiatives include Wellness Wednesdays, where experts come in and present on some aspect of wellness. “On one occasion, former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Obby Khan from the Green Carrot Juice Company came in and gave a talk about eating healthy,” said Bilcowski. “He also gave our employees samples of healthy drinks and shakes.” That focus on wellness goes beyond just the physical realm. WAA staff are free to attend financial and mental health workshops. WAA also supports Bike to Work Day and offered a bike maintenance workshop during the summer. “We try to be holistic in the area of wellness, and to

look at the whole person,” Bilcowski said. That all-inclusive approach extends to work stations. New height-adjustable work stations were recently installed in work areas, and additional lighting was installed in an effort to brighten those areas and promote user-friendliness. Break rooms have also been renovated to ensure the most positive atmosphere possible. “Our goal is to make the work environment as ergonomically-supportive as possible,” Bilcowski said. “We know our employees work hard, so we want to make the work environment as healthy as possible for them.” All that effort appears to be paying off. “We’re quite proud of our high staff retention level,” she said. “The staff attrition rate here is extremely low. I think people stay here because of the collaborative culture, and the open lines of communication at all levels. Communication and caring are key — that’s something we will continue to build and demonstrate daily.” ❚

Leading Transportation Innovation & Growth Proud to be chosen as one of Manitoba’s Top 25 Employers for the 6th consecutive year

Photo courtesy of Laird Kay


100 YEARS AND GOING STRONG Did you know we are 100 years old? You may have noticed our new building signage, our new street sign on Broadway, or our recent Winnipeg Free Press supplement during the past year — it was all in recognition of our 100th anniversary we celebrated this year.


ack in 1916, the WCB was charged with implementing a historic compromise between workers and employers. Injured workers gave up the right to sue their employers in exchange for guaranteed no-fault benefits in the event of a work-related injury or illness; and employers agreed to pay for the system, in exchange for protection against lawsuits. While we have spent time this year looking back at the past 100 years, we also keep looking forward as we continue to evolve, serving our customers and being an employer of choice for Manitobans. “The WCB remains relevant in an ever-changing world because its service is integral to Manitoba, and our employees play a huge role in that,” says

Winston Maharaj, President and CEO. “Our staff are proud to represent such a longstanding organization that’s in the business of helping all Manitobans.” We are excited to be recognized for the sixth consecutive year as one of Manitoba’s Top Employers — and over the past year, have made a number of strides in several areas. As part of our commitment to fostering mental health and safety in the workplace, the WCB has launched a number of initiatives over the past year to support this important organizational goal. From celebrating Mental Health Week to offering resiliency workshops to engaging leaders in specialized training, our support of mental health

“Our mental health initiative took a giant leap forward over the past year with our Mental Health Week activities, leadership training and staff focus groups.” and wellness is just getting started. One of the most recent initiatives that took place was a series of focus groups this past spring. We wanted an opportunity to gather feedback directly from our staff, about what they think the WCB is currently doing to support mental health and safety and what action we can take to do better. Five focus groups were held — four in Winnipeg and one in Brandon — comprising a cross-section of staff and leaders from across the organization. “Our mental health initiative took a giant leap forward over the past year with our Mental Health Week activities, leadership training and staff focus

groups,” says David Scott, Vice-President, Human Resources and Strategy. “Going forward, we now have a solid foundation to educate our leaders and staff about mental health.” Another initiative is “WCB in the Community,” where staff volunteer to help various nonprofit organizations and other initiatives in the community. Armed with our new “WCB in the Community” blue T-shirts, this year we have helped raise money for the United Way, helped the Arthritis Society move to their new office, and participated in the Big Bike ride supporting the Heart and Stroke Foundation, to name a few. We’ve also begun to improve our workplace with an interior renovation of two floors at 333 Broadway as well as a complete overhaul of the building’s HVAC system. The interior of the WCB’s landmark building has not been renovated or upgraded for a number of years and the renovation shows a commitment to our staff and customers, and the building upgrades allow us to be more energy efficient and sustainable into the future. “These plans are an investment in our organization and our people. I am excited to continue to see this project take shape and to provide our staff a much better working environment going forward,” says Lorena Trann, WCB Chief Financial Officer. “The end result will be a modern, functional workspace for every staff member on these floors.” While we celebrate 100 years helping Manitobans, we also recognize the importance of being a workplace of choice for current and future employees. These initiatives are just a sample of how we are one of Manitoba’s Top Employers, and we’re never satisfied with the status quo when it comes to ensuring our employees are engaged in their work and in their community. “Being an employer of choice in Manitoba allows us to attract the best people and it means our customers are getting the best service possible,” Maharaj says. ❚

YEARS Here to Help Since 1916

Proud to be named one of Manitoba’s top 25 employers for the last six years. security • wellness • engagement • growth

Tell us your story If you are an exceptional employer with progressive HR programs and initiatives, we invite you to submit an application for next year’s edition of Manitoba’s Top Employers. For information, please visit: Our 2018 application will be available in February through the national Canada’s Top 100 Employers competition.


Manitoba's Top Employers (2017)  

The annual list of the best places to work in Manitoba, prepared by the editors of Canada's Top 100 Employers and published by the Winnipeg...

Manitoba's Top Employers (2017)  

The annual list of the best places to work in Manitoba, prepared by the editors of Canada's Top 100 Employers and published by the Winnipeg...