Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 8, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. / BC Ferries was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2017):
- BC Ferries considers previous work experience when setting individual vacation entitlements, with the majority of employees receiving 3 weeks of paid vacation to start, moving to a maximum of 8 weeks over the course of their careers
- BC Ferries helps employees plan for a secure future with retirement planning assistance and contributions to a defined benefit pension plan -- experienced employees can also take advantage of phased-in work options when nearing retirement
- BC Ferries employees can receive new employee referral bonuses when they successfully recruit a friend
BC Ferries charts a new course to support employees
As a promising hockey prospect with the Detroit Red Wings development system in the early 1980s, Mike Corrigan knew the meaning of teamwork. He later used those lessons to thrive in the world of business.
But Corrigan, now President and CEO of British Columbia Ferry Services Inc., didn't see much esprit de corps when he joined the publicly owned company, better known as BC Ferries, in 2003. The former Crown corporation, which transitioned to independent management in 2003, was saddled with strained labour-management relations and a blemished safety record.
"We had to change the culture of BC Ferries because, at that time, the employees didn't feel the company had their back with respect to safety and training," says Corrigan. "If you ask the employees today, they would say that's the single biggest change they've seen."
The company's SailSafe program has won international awards and is underpinned by its extensive Standardized Education and Assessment (SEA) program. SEA ensures that employees at all levels are trained in the same way. In the 10 years since SailSafe was established, injuries have dropped from an average of 370 a year to 125. But training goes beyond safety to include numerous management and leadership courses, too.
While the investment in safety has buoyed employee morale, Capt. Tracy Flemming is equally inspired by the company's dedication to career development. She joined BC Ferries 10 years ago as a deckhand and is now Senior Master for the new Salish Raven.
"My supervisor took the time to find out what my career goals were, and over the past 10 years, we've been working together to meet and surpass them," she says. "There are so many tools that we have at our disposal to help us progress."
BC Ferries also supports employee health and wellness through its Sprout online health and wellness community and the WHEEL program which offers a $50 individual subsidy for participation in any fitness event, or up to $250 for an employee team.
Benefits are among the best in the shipping industry, including up to seven weeks of paid vacation, an employee assistance program, and retirement planning assistance. But perhaps the biggest bonus is travelling B.C.'s beautiful coastal waterways. "We get to go to work every day and watch the sun rise or see it set," says Flemming. "And we meet people from all over the world."