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Through Good Times and Bad

The finalists for Alberta’s Best Workplaces always find ways to be destinations of choice

Jun 1, 2015

What a difference a year makes. Last June, the price of oil had just begun its precipitous decline. Companies were still in hiring mode. They were battling for employees, laying out the proverbial red carpet in the guise of healthy pay packages, to-die-for perks and lots of opportunity for advancement. Read More

Co-Presented by
Alberta Venture
Alberta Blue Cross
Employer Group Benefits
Sponsored by
Careers: The Next Generation
SureCall Contact Centers

Best Overall Workplace
(750 Plus employees)

Winner: PCL Construction
Finalists: Alberta Motor Association, Diversified Transportation, Enerflex, ATB Financial

Best Workplace
(101 to 750 employees)

Winner: Melcor
Finalists: GCS Energy Serices, Scott Builters, Aux Sable, Entrec

Best Workplace
(Under 100 employees)

Winner: Splice Software
Finalists: Energy Navigator, Collins Barrow, Pumpwell Solutions, Yardstick

Best Workplace for
Benefits, Perks and Incentives

Winner: Rogers Insurance
Finalists: Pembina Pipelines, Melcor, Packers Plus, Yardstick

Best Workplace for

Winner: ATB Financial
Finalists: Alberta Blue Cross, Kingston Ross Pasnak, Redbloom Salon, Splice Software

Best Workplace for

Winner: Western Bulk Transport
Finalists: Calgary Alternative Support Services, Diversified Transportation, Livestock Water Recycling, Tundra Petroleum Services

Best Workplace for the
Environmentally Conscious

Winner: OEM Remanfucaturing
Finalists: Integrated Sustainability Consultants, Lafarge Canada, Manasc Isaac Architects, Royal Glenora Club

Best Workplace for
Training and Development

Winner: Alberta Motor Association
Finalists: Carewest, Collins Barrow Calgary, VistaVu Solutions, Workers Compensation Board

Best Workplace for
Volunteerism and Community Involvement

Winner: PCL Construction
Finalists: Davis LLP, KPMG Management Services, Rohit Group, Tetra Tech

Best Workplace for
Health and Safety

Edmonton Regional Airport Authority
Finalists: Capital Power, GCS Energy Services, Northern Mat & Bridge, Pembina Pipelines

Today, human resource professionals are more likely to be navigating the rocky shoals of layoffs – or at best a hiring freeze – than aggressive expansion. With oil around $60, they’re having to do things differently. “When things are going well HR is focused on engagement and ensuring that they’re retaining people,” says Chris McNelly, the CEO of the Human Resources Institute of Alberta. “When things aren’t going well, that shifts more to crisis management and the identification of top talent.” Now, when a position becomes vacant, a company will likely evaluate the need for that role at all. Only once it’s determined to be necessary will it move on to screening potential applicants. The challenge is to identify crucial roles, select the people you want to fill them and to find ways to minimize the impact on staff.

But that doesn’t mean the fundamentals of creating a great workplace really change. The key drivers of engagement remain compensation, empowerment, leadership and development.

What has changed is the number of dollars a company has to work with. Take training and development: It’s the low hanging fruit when it comes to financial cutbacks. “It’s unfortunate that companies do that because it’s to their detriment,” says McNelly, “particularly their long term sustainability and competitive advantage.” Nonetheless they do it, and that puts pressure on HR to maintain an engaged workforce when all of a sudden the budget you had to keep people is gone.

There are some low-cost, high-value initiatives that companies use to create great workplaces, including peer-recognition plans and mentorship opportunities. And one key to surviving the storm is simply to not overreact. Those who remember 2008-2009 will remember a massive, unnecessary and expensive talent swap. “It was like everyone was released as free agents,” McNelly says. “Well that just costs everybody more because you have to hire people back and retrain them.” This time around, smart organizations will be a little more cautious in culling their staff because they know things will come back and don’t want to have to rehire everyone in a year or two.

Alberta and the companies headquartered in this province are resilient. They’ve been through it before and will be again. Through it all, there are always plenty of examples of great places to work. Here, we give you Alberta’s Best Workplaces, 2015.