Recognized as one of Saskatchewan's Top Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 23, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Access Communications Co-operative Ltd. was selected as one of Saskatchewan's Top Employers (2018):
- Access Communications supports its new and adoptive moms with maternity 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
- Access Communications encourages ongoing employee development with full tuition subsidies for courses both related and not directly related to their current position, and offers a series of in-house and online training programs
- Access Communications offers new employees 3 weeks of paid starting vacation and 3 paid personal days off to use as needed -- the co-operative also considers previous experience when setting individual vacation entitlements
Giving back drives Access Communications
Everyone who applies for a job at Access Communications Co-operative gets asked the same question: Are you involved in your community? "It's not a pass-fail question," explains Carole Sauer, Manager, Human Resources and Safety, "but it opens up a discussion on the importance of giving back. We believe in helping others and want to hire like-minded people."
As a co-op, Sauer adds, "we are all about our communities. Everything we do is for the people we serve, not only our products and services but our volunteer initiatives."
As a leading Saskatchewan provider of Internet, TV, phone and security services, Access Communications is well-positioned to deliver such com-munity support. Take its TV Bingo initiative, one of several successful charitable activities. Viewers purchase cards and then tune in as numbers are called. Since 2006, the effort has raised more than $1.7 million for the Access Communications Children's Fund, helping children in need.
TV Bingo is broadcast weekly on the Access7 community channel. Winners must call in to claim their prize, and among the many employee volunteers answering the phones is Zohra Masani, whose regular job is providing telephone Internet support. "Access has been so good to me that I welcome the chance to return the favour," she says.
Masani came to Saskatchewan from India three years ago to study at the University of Regina. She almost immediately landed a part-time job at Access's head office and then became full time after graduation. However, she almost lost her work permit recently over a bureaucratic snafu. Desperate, Masani turned to her HR department for help.
"They were amazing," she says. "They knew more about the immigration rules and regulations than I did. They solved the problem within hours."
For Masani, that was another demonstration of a caring employer. "Access doesn't see the colour of your skin or your gender," she says. "If you are knowledgeable and talented, they do see that. Your work is what matters."
And your ideas.
Says Sauer: "Everyone is listened to, and all suggestions are welcome. If there's a better way to do things, we want to hear about it. Nearly 95 per cent of our employees say they are empowered and feel they contribute to the company's success."
In return, they receive professional development opportunities and generous benefits, including heavily discounted Internet service. That's a boon for Masani to keep in touch digitally with family and friends in India. "It's the cherry on top," she says.
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 1, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Access Communications Co-operative Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2018):
- Access Communications works with various community organizations to provide employment opportunities to candidates from all walks of life, including Sask Abilities, 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 produced a unique television show called Exceptionalities, which features extraordinary individuals challenged by disorders, disabilities or diseases -- and created a show called The Four in 2013 to showcase the challenges faced by four successful and unique First Nation and Métis women living in Regina
A global open-door policy at Access Communications
Parth Vyas was more than a little bit nervous when he walked into his manager's office with a special request that he expected would be refused. Vyas, who had come to Saskatchewan four years ago from India, wanted to return home for his wedding to a Canadian he had met here. And to do the wedding properly, his family back home insisted, he needed six weeks off, three more than he was normally entitled to. Complicating the matter was that he already had taken two weeks' vacation earlier in the year from his job as a Broadband Technician at Access Communications Co-operative Limited.
He needn't have worried. His manager worked out an arrangement with Vyas taking some time off without pay to make the lengthy wedding-trip holiday. "I didn't have to plead at all," he says. "If your company goes to bat for you in such a situation, it goes a long way to cementing employee loyalty."
Vyas had hit it off from the get-go during his job interview with Access Communications, a leading Regina-based provider of Internet, TV, phone and security services for Saskatchewan. It was 2015 and Vyas was working elsewhere after graduating from a two-year electronics technician program. His student visa was about to expire, and his employer at the time could not help him meet the requirements to remain in Canada.
Vyas raised the issue during the interview. "Access said, 'No problem, let's do it'," recalls Vyas, "and they did."
For Vyas, that effort demonstrated that Access Communications "welcomes anyone who is willing to work hard and build a career." He adds: "They don't care about the colour of your skin or where you come from. And when you need someone to help, they are there for you."
After sponsoring Vyas -- a first for the company, which has just over 200 full-time staff -- Access Communications has assisted 21 more employees achieve permanent status in Canada through the province's Immigrant Nominee Program. "Why wouldn't we help out?" asks Carole Sauer, Manager, Human Resources and Safety. "People from different backgrounds, different cultures bring with them different ideas and different skills. In the end, it's great for the company in so many ways."
As a co-operative with a community focus, Sauer adds that it is important for the Access Communications workforce to "reflect the changing population landscape." She is particularly proud that the proportion of visible minority employees has doubled in three years to 17 per cent.
But diversity at Access Communications goes beyond skin colour. The company works closely with an employment agency that helps people with barriers get jobs. It provides paid internships for individuals with disabilities. And Access is an active recruiter at career fairs targeting Indigenous students and young women. Among executive role models at Access Communications, half are women.
Meanwhile, the company's community TV channel, Access7, is a showcase for various minority populations. The Four, a weekly one-hour talk show now in its fourth season, has become part of the curriculum for Indigenous studies and women's issues in several educational institutions. It features four successful First Nations and Métis women discussing challenges they have faced -- and continue to face. Another Access7 production, Invisible Wall, a series on visible and invisible barriers faced by immigrants, won first prize in its category at the 2016 Yorkton Film Festival.
Vyas now has returned to school full time, studying programming and other computer-related technology, but he still works weekends at Access Communications as an Internet Support Representative. "My manager was very supportive of me taking more courses to build my career, and he helped me land my part-time job," Vyas says.
Once he finishes his studies, Vyas looks forward to returning to Access full time. "I would proudly retire from here," he says. "They have been so great." n