Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2015)
Here are some of the reasons why Union Gas Limited was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2016) and Top Employers for Canadians Over 40 (2016):
- Union Gas offers excellent financial benefits, including signing bonuses for some employees, year-end bonuses, a share purchase plan that is available to all -- also helps older employees prepare for life after work with retirement planning assistance, contributions to matching RSP, defined benefit and defined contribution plans (depending on the position) and health plan coverage that extends to retirees
- As part of its workforce diversity strategy, Union Gas developed a 5-year business case outlining strategies and initiatives including outreach, recruitment, training and employee resources, and organized several Aboriginal recruitment workshops, in partnership with various local community agencies
- Union Gas provides maternity leave top-up payments for its new moms, including adoptive moms, and is an industry leader in offering a generous subsidy for in vitro fertilization when needed (to $15,000) -- the company also supports employees with older kids through an academic scholarship program (to $5,000 per child)
Huge capital expansion creating new jobs at Union Gas
When 70 high school girls attended a recent career program for Junior Achievement in Chatham, Ont., they could hardly wait to meet Denise Spadotto, Manager of Contract Management Conformance at Union Gas.
When Spadotto graduated from the University of Windsor in 1991 as a mechanical engineer, she was the only woman in her year. Now, she told the female students, there are more and more women in engineering programs throughout Canada, and their qualifications open doors for them at companies like Union Gas.
"It was great to see the look of inspiration on their faces when the light clicked on," Spadotto says.
Getting students enthused about a career at Union Gas is important not only for the students but for the company, as well. Over the next few years, Union Gas will require many new talented and energetic employees as it invests almost $2 billion in pipelines and other infrastructure in Ontario to meet the growing demand for affordable natural gas.
Projects range from a $300-million high-powered compressor facility on a 120-acre site in Milton, near Toronto, to the addition of 14 kilometres of pipeline between Cambridge and Hamilton, and the proposed construction of a 12-km pipeline between Burlington and Oakville.
"I haven't seen capital expansion growth of this magnitude since I started 34 years ago," says Roger Piett, Manager of Project Execution in the Major Projects Group at Union Gas. Dozens of positions were filled by qualified external candidates. As well, employees jumped at the opportunities being offered as a result of the historical capital expansion, and 218 positions were filled internally in departments across the company.
"We've seen people who could have done the same thing for their entire career posting for and accepting roles in other departments. The calibre of internal employees applying for these roles has been exceptional, and they bring a wealth of company knowledge," says Piett.
With its headquarters in Chatham, Union Gas already maintains 69,000 kilometres of pipeline as well as the largest underground gas storage facility in Canada. About 1.4 million residential, commercial and industrial customers in Ontario rely on the company for their gas supply. Like Union Gas employees themselves, these customers live and work in more than 400 communities throughout the province. To support the locations where it operates, Union Gas is involved extensively in community development work, supporting such groups as United Way.
With more than a dozen complex and wide-ranging projects in progress or planned over the next few years, the company needs capable and diverse employees.
With this in mind, Union Gas developed a five-year business case as part of its workforce diversity strategy, which outlines initiatives including outreach, recruitment, training and employee resources. The company also organized several Aboriginal recruitment workshops, in partnership with local community agencies.
Union Gas employees are supported by a number of programs, including one that trains employees to understand mental disorders and recognize the impact of stigma. As Janice Ferguson, Vice President of Human Resources, points out, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability among Canadians 15 to 44 years of age. About half a million Canadians miss work every day because of a mental disorder, but only 33 per cent seek treatment.
"The ultimate goal is to create an environment where people feel safe and comfortable talking about mental health," Ferguson says. "We want all our employees to feel that they're supported and part of something special."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Canada's Top 100 Employers winners, published November 9, 2015 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.