Recognized as one of Saskatchewan's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 12, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Access Communications Co-operative Ltd. was selected as one of Saskatchewan's Top Employers (2019):
- Access Communications' longstanding employee social committee sponsors numerous events throughout the year, including an annual Christmas party and holiday celebration for children, summer barbecues, Family Day at the Saskatchewan Science Centre, and an Oktoberfest luncheon, just to name a few
- Access Communications supports new and adoptive moms with maternity and parental leave top-up payments to 100% of salary for up to 17 weeks -- and allows new parents to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence as well as offers a variety of alternative work options to help them balance their work and personal lives
Access Communications is all about staff empowerment
As a high school dropout and the mother of five children living in small-town Saskatchewan, Toni Thibault sometimes despaired for her future. "I thought I'd be waitressing or in some other dead-end job, just making ends meet," she recalls. Her prospects improved dramatically nine years ago, when she earned her GED high school equivalency diploma and was hired by Access Communications Co-operative Limited, one of Saskatchewan's largest telecommunications providers. Today, she works as a team leader for customer care in the company's North Battleford office. "It's been an amazing transition," she says.
"It shows my kids that just because you struggle at a young age, it doesn't mean that you can't learn and grow."
Access Communications Co-operative has always been there to support Thibault and its more than 300 other employees across the province. As a community-owned, not-for-profit co-operative that celebrated its 40th anniversary during 2018, it has a proud tradition of being recognized as one of Saskatchewan's top employers. "We're all about empowering our employees," says Carole Sauer, manager, human resources and safety.
The notion that your ideas are listened to and heard - that scores very highly with our employees as evidenced by our regular, third-party surveys," she adds. "If you think something is not right or you have a better idea, we urge employees to bring it forward. We always want to know so we can continue to improve."
Sauer says Access Communications Co-operative looks for employees who are customer-focused problem-solvers who love being involved in their communities.
Reflecting its co-op roots, Access Communications is dedicated to providing competitive compensation and benefits, along with a safe, challenging and friendly environment for every member of its diverse workforce.
As a busy mom who also serves as a reserve lieutenant with the Canadian Forces, Thibault appreciates the co-operative's generous benefits and its strong work-life balance. New employees start with three weeks of paid annual vacation and three paid personal days to use when needed. For those in the family way, Access Communications provides new parents with maternity-leave top-up payments (to 100 per cent of salary for 17 weeks).
On the professional front, the company encourages ongoing employee development with full tuition subsidies for courses both related and not directly related to their current position.
It's the kind of company where you can build a long-term career, says Thibault. "I've always had the opportunity to grow," she adds. "I love the job I'm in and look forward to coming to work everyday."
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 28, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Access Communications Co-operative Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
- Access Communications works with various community organizations to provide employment opportunities to candidates from all walks of life, including SaskAbilities, to provide paid work terms for individuals with disabilities, and Partners in Employment, an agency that works with individuals who experience barriers to employment
- In keeping with the organization's line of business, Access Communications premiered a show called The Four in 2013 to showcase the challenges faced by four successful and unique First Nations and Métis women living in Regina
Access Communications reflects its diverse audience
For years, Saguna Dobariya dreamt of leaving her native India to re-unite with her brother and sister-in-law in Saskatchewan.Today, she's building a new life in Canada - thanks in part to Saskatchewan-based telecommunications provider Access Communications Co-operative Limited, which hired her last year as an Internet Support Representative, Customer Care.
With the co-operative's support, she's quickly settling into her new home. Still, some things take longer to get used to. "I like the people in Canada," she says. "They're very helpful and friendly. I just don't like the winter. Canada is very cold!"
For Access Communications, it all comes down to having a workforce that reflects the diversity of its customers.
"An important focus for Access is on inclusion," says Carole Sauer, Manager, Human Resources and Safety. "For us, we have to pass that test - for women, for all groups. We're always thinking about serving different cultures, right down to the channels that we offer."
On the air, Access Communications offers customers in more than 90 communities across Saskatchewan unique Access7 television channels featuring local programming including The Four, a show geared to Indigenous women, and Prairie Pride, produced by and geared to LGBTQ+ issues and events in the province.
Behind the scenes, the co-operative, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, assigns one of its staff to work closely with new-to-Canada recruits to help them with their work permits, obtain permanent residency and, ultimately, to gain Canadian citizenship.
At Access Communications, diversity is engrained in the workplace culture - from start to finish. A two-day orientation program provided to all new employees has diversity training. When employees leave, the co-operative's exit interview process includes questions designed to help pinpoint employee concerns with the working environment, workplace inclusion, or barriers of any kind. Every May the co-operative holds a multicultural potluck at its Regina head office to celebrate the diversity of its workforce. As well, Access staff celebrate the heritage and achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people on National Indigenous Day in June.
As with Saguna, Access Communications meets some of its diverse recruits as they prepare to graduate from Saskatchewan Polytechnic's Computer Networking Technician or Telecom Networking Technician programs. Access Communications sits on the advisory board for both programs.
The co-operative also attends career fairs geared specifically to diverse job seekers such as the Stepping Stones Career Fair, organized by the Regina Treaty Status Indian Service.
Co-sponsored by Access Communications, the event annually attracts more than 1,000 Indigenous youth from around southern Saskatchewan.
In 2018, Access Communications also attended the Neil Squire Society's Job Fair for People with Disabilities, and Careers Unlimited, organized by The Business Professional Women of Regina for young women of high school age.
The co-operative looks for candidates who, like its 300 employees, not only have exceptional skills in their fields, but possess a sense of teamwork, customer focus and an interest in community involvement.
In 2013, Access Communications expanded its work-from-home program in its call centre for employees who require an accommodation due to a physical disability, religious or cultural beliefs, or for personal reasons. It also conducts ergonomic assessments on workspaces for employees who have requested accommodations in their physical workspace.
"The company provides great support," says Dobariya. "They're very helpful, and if you have a question, you can ask anytime."
With less than a year on the job, she adds, she is already loving it - and the future looks bright. "In this position," she explains, "you have to deal with a variety of people over the phone, and I love to talk and help all of them."