Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why NAV CANADA was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018) and National Capital Region's Top Employers (2017):
- As part of NAV CANADA's health benefits plan, employees receive a health spending account of up to $750 per year which can be used to top up existing coverage or cover additional wellness-related expenses
- NAV CANADA supports a number of local, national and international charitable organizations each year and sets aside $130K for donations based on employee requests -- the organization also sets aside $250K to support local initiatives across the country where employees live and work
- NAV CANADA encourages ongoing employee development through tuition subsidies for job-related courses, subsidies for professional accreditation and in-house apprenticeship programs
NAV CANADA guides its employees toward success
Commercial and private pilots who fly in Canadian airspace know they can rely on NAV CANADA to help them reach their destinations safely. The private, not-for-profit company is one of the most respected air navigation service providers in the world.
Similarly, air traffic controllers and other employees of NAV CANADA know they can count on the company to help them succeed in their work and careers.
Headquartered in Ottawa, NAV CANADA is responsible for civil air navigation services for the entire country as well as about half of the North Atlantic airspace. It operates more than 1,000 ground-based navigation aids across Canada and handles approximately 12 million aircraft movements a year, making it the world's second-largest air navigation service by traffic volume.
NAV CANADA's employees work in air traffic services -- from air traffic control to services such as flight information, weather briefings, aeronautical information, airport advisory and electronic aids to navigation. Other essential corporate functions include human resources, finance and information management.
"We offer excellent career opportunities and support our employees in many ways, including performance management programs, strong recognition programs and learning and development," says Raymond Bohn, NAV CANADA's Senior Vice-President of Human Resources.
One example is Thrive, a voluntary peer support program the company has developed for employees involved in air traffic control services. The training is rigorous and emotionally intense for students and instructors alike.
"I didn't know much about aviation when I started with the company," says Rosanne Sim, who has been an air traffic controller in Edmonton for eight years. "All my training was provided by NAV CANADA.
"What I really like about Thrive is that the company saw the need for it and offered it," says Sim, who is now a peer and coordinator for the program at the company's Edmonton Area Control Centre. "They recognized that the training is stressful for everyone. The program helps by providing peer support and mentorship.
"It's a step above the usual employee assistance programs because peers have insight into the job and what it involves. They've been through it. It's a comprehensive approach to looking after employees' health and well-being."
NAV CANADA also strives to help its managers progress and succeed. "We're very focused on leadership and management effectiveness," says Bohn. "The vast majority of our managers come from within the organization and we believe it's extremely important that we equip them for success. One way we do this is through an onboarding program called Accelerate."
In this program, employees who have recently been appointed or promoted to management learn from other leaders about their new responsibilities and what will be expected of them. They gain a greater understanding of the organization's strategic direction and the various HR programs and services that are available to support them as people managers.
As well, Accelerate is designed to enhance new managers' business acumen and enable them to begin building business networks throughout the company.
"As managers move to more senior levels, they may take part in our CEO Leadership Forum, where a small group of leaders work directly with the CEO over a two-day period, discussing leadership issues," says Bohn.
All three programs are relatively new initiatives, a sign of NAV CANADA's ongoing commitment to preparing its people for success. That, in turn, has contributed to the company's global reputation for excellence. "With so many opportunities for growth and development, a career with NAV CANADA gives employees the opportunity to do exciting work that matters," says Bohn.
The sky's the limit at NAV CANADA
When Danielle Desbiens says "the sky's the limit" at NAV CANADA, she's not referring to the company's raison d'etre, moving aircraft safely and efficiently through Canadian air space. She's talking about career potential: "There are lots of opportunities here."
Desbiens speaks from first-hand experience. Thirty years ago she was hired and worked as a maintenance technologist before becoming an instructor at the NAV CENTRE, where NAV CANADA provides specialized instruction for the technologists and engineers who develop, install, maintain and repair some of the most advanced air traffic management technology in the world.
In 2003, Desbiens accepted a position as a life cycle manager and in 2009, took over her current position as Program Manager, Communications Engineering. Based in Ottawa, she's in charge of a team of engineers and technologists who ensure NAV CANADA's radar and communications systems perform optimally. They deal with equipment that ranges from cutting-edge to time-tested.
"You need to have a broad knowledge of air navigation services because all our systems are interconnected," says Desbiens. "Our focus on safety is phenomenal, but there's always room for improvement. Learning is an ongoing process."
NAV CANADA, a not-for-profit company, was formed in 1996 with the purchase of the country's civil air navigation service (ANS) from Transport Canada. It is the only entirely private ANS provider in the world and has an international reputation as one of the safest.
Most of the workforce is operational staff, including about 2,000 air traffic controllers and 650 flight service specialists based throughout Canada. Other highly skilled employees, like Desbiens and her team, ensure their colleagues can provide pilots with the crucial information they need to interact with the ANS. The company also hires people in a variety of support functions, such as IT, finance, legal and human resources, often based in Ottawa.
Facilitating professional development is part of NAV CANADA's highly competitive compensation and benefits package. It also includes a comprehensive health care plan and a defined benefit pension plan.
"People tend to stay," says Raymond Bohn, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, referring to the company's low turnover rate, "and can advance their careers in a variety of ways, by moving onto new teams, working on special projects or taking on a management or training role. That is one of the reasons why it is so important that we offer a workplace culture where everyone feels valued."