Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 29, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Hydro Ottawa was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2019):
- Hydro Ottawa provides maternity and parental leave top-up payments for employees who are new mothers (to 90% of salary for up to 25 weeks) and parental top-up for new fathers and adoptive parents (to 90% of salary for up to 10 weeks) -- additionally, the organization offers a generous IVF subsidy for parents-to-be (up to $15,000)
- Hydro Ottawa celebrates exceptional performance and achievement through a number of award categories, including teamwork, integrity, excellence, customer service, co-worker service or community service, and "living our values" -- winners are recognized at an annual Employee Forum and Recognition Event and are also invited to the President & Chief Executive Officer Luncheon with members of the executive management team
- Along with helping employees save for the future, Hydro Ottawa maintains a dedicated engagement strategy for experienced employees and retirees -- as part of the initiative, the organization established a Retiree Association to encourage employees to stay connected
Making a difference in jobs of the future at Hydro Ottawa
When six tornadoes swept through the National Capital Region in September 2018, leaving more than 170,000 customers - half the City of Ottawa - without power, Hydro Ottawa crews jumped into action, restoring electricity to virtually every customer within a few days.
"I helped turn on the last switch," says power cable technician Justin Keays. "We worked long days and the reaction from the community was amazing. People brought us coffee and food, more than we could eat. Everyone was coming out and thanking us - they were sincerely grateful. We felt we were really making a difference."
Hydro Ottawa ensures that all its employees have opportunities to make a difference, says Lyne Parent-Garvey, chief human resources officer. "We're all about providing affordable, reliable electricity to our customers, which requires a highly skilled, dedicated workforce. If we want our people to give everything they've got, we need to give them opportunities to shine, whether they deal with our external customers, as Justin does, or internal customers, as Kelly does."
Kelly Ennis is technology and analytics specialist in human resources, where she helped develop the employee self-service centre, which provides employees with mobile access to their personal information, including pay, benefits, leaves and time.
"Working on the implementation of this new technology was a huge opportunity for me, a chance to challenge the status quo, do things differently and innovate," Ennis says. "I found I'm good with technology and I love what technology can do for the employee experience. I have to think quickly and make fast decisions - there's instant gratification when people tell me how they use and like the system."
Ennis' new role includes responsibility in an emerging area, predictive analytics, which is "one of the jobs of the future," notes Parent-Garvey. "Enabling people like Kelly and Justin to learn and grow and lead teams is the best way for us to provide the best service to our customers."
Both Ennis and Keays have been with Hydro Ottawa for just over five years - Ennis since 2012 after earning a commerce degree from the University of Ottawa, Keays since 2013 after training to be an electrical technician at Algonquin College - but they have already enjoyed multiple opportunities to make a difference.
The same week power was restored in September, Parent-Garvey and some colleagues attended an event in Ottawa. "We received a standing ovation," she says. "That really builds pride in every corner of our organization."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2019):
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 17, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Hydro Ottawa was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2019):
- Hydro Ottawa organizes The Student Apprentice, a half-day program that provides students with an opportunity to present "value-added" ideas to the organization and interact with executives, including the organization's President and CEO
- Hydro Ottawa participated in Youth Futures, a program created by the City of Ottawa and the University of Ottawa to offer employment opportunities for high school students from low-income families and communities
- An industry partner with Algonquin College's Applied Research Program since 2013, Hydro Ottawa initiated a project to develop a Live Line Simulator -- multiple cohorts of students worked and built upon phases of a prototype jacket, ultimately leading to a patent application in 2017 -- the live line simulation jacket will be used to train Powerline Technician students and apprentices on how to work safely near high-voltage conductors
Youth plays an important part in the evolution of Hydro Ottawa
Hydro Ottawa is in the midst of a significant transformation, taking on a more decentralized, customer-centric, technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable form, and young people are playing an important part in the evolution.
"The focus on energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy is causing disruption in our industry. Our role and our customers' expectations are changing," says Lyne Parent-Garvey, Chief Human Resources Officer. "We want to make sure we meet the expectations of customers for choice, convenience and responsiveness."
One sign of the change is the move towards a bidirectional grid to adapt to customers who generate some of their own electricity, through solar or wind power, for example.
"This trend is transforming how we do business," says Parent-Garvey. "As part of our transformation, we're also embracing a new environment that's more consistent with an open, collaborative and innovative culture. At the same time, we're making sure younger employees have a voice. Our Youth Council, chaired by our CEO, ensures we hear their voice."
One member of the Youth Council is Scott Nichols, who, as Distribution Engineer, has in-depth knowledge of the technical aspects of the changes under way at Hydro Ottawa. "The bidirectional grid is becoming more predominant because customers want to do more, add new generation. That means we need better controls and better monitoring of how new power comes into the grid," he says.
Nichols has been supported in his career development ever since he joined Hydro Ottawa in 2013 after earning a diploma in electrical engineering from Algonquin College and an engineering degree from Lakehead University. "I started in the Engineering Intern program at Hydro Ottawa, which led me to achieving my P.Eng. designation from the Professional Engineers of Ontario," he says. "The program made sure I had the right experience and learning to meet the requirements."
While Nichols was going through the intern program, Hydro Ottawa established a new "quarterback" system, which assigns a professional engineer to mentor and sponsor the progress of each intern towards licensure. Now that he has successfully completed the program, Nichols has taken on a quarterback role himself.
Another member of the Youth Council is Kirsten Quinn, who began working for Hydro Ottawa as a summer student in 2011 while taking a business program at Algonquin College specializing in human resources. Since permanently joining in 2013, she has gained experience in several different areas within Human Resources and is now a member of a project team helping to introduce new employee performance and development programs through a cloud-based talent management software solution.
"I really enjoy the Youth Council, providing input on diversity, learning about the company's priorities and so on," Quinn says. "The council has members across the organization so we get to know each other and learn about other parts of the business, and to engage with executives."
Like many other Hydro Ottawa employees, Nichols and Quinn are involved in numerous activities aimed at giving back to the community, such as a summer camp for children with cancer, a hockey game for underprivileged youth, and a day at a fair for children with special needs. "We give employees one paid day a year to engage with the community," says Parent-Garvey.
Asked what he likes best about working for Hydro Ottawa, Nichols says, "No two days are the same - there's always something new. The technology is evolving and so is everything we do. And I enjoy the responsibility I've been given."
For her part, Quinn says, "I love the people I work with and helping them. I take great pride in saying I work for Hydro Ottawa. There are so many opportunities."
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 Hydro Ottawa was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
- Hydro Ottawa recently launched a Women's Council to help champion related initiatives and organized an offsite event with guest speakers to celebrate International Women's Day
- In the past year, Hydro Ottawa expanded its mental health awareness involvement by participating in Mental Health Week activities and offering Not Myself Today resources for employees
Growing up my family faced a lot of challenges with mental illness. My one brother has schizophrenia and not until his early 30's did he finally recognize and accept help. My other two brothers suffer from depression, drug addictions and suicidal tendencies. Hydro Ottawa has helped me to better understand how to both cope and support my family, and to truly understand what it means to suffer from a mental illness. Here at Hydro Ottawa, it's about ending the stigma and being the support mechanism for those who need it. Without understanding what drives mental illness and the stigma that is attached to it, we will never truly understand the hidden stories and the challenges people deal with alone each day. Spencer W., Manager, Customer Experience
Inclusion comes naturally to Hydro Ottawa
As a community-based company that generates and delivers electricity, Hydro Ottawa is predisposed towards a culture of diversity and inclusion. One reason is "we're a customer-centric organization so it's important that we're representative of the communities we serve," says Lyne Parent-Garvey, Chief Human Resources Officer. "We can bring more value to our customers if we're more representative.
"Another factor is the company's focus on safety, which is paramount throughout its operations and is being adapted to foster a more inclusive workplace. "Safety has a new meaning today, much beyond what it used to mean," notes Kristy Biddle, Manager, Talent Performance and Development. "It's about making sure everyone feels safe when they're here. People need to be comfortable in themselves."
Over the past several years, Hydro Ottawa has built on its natural inclination towards diversity and inclusion by developing strategies and programs that encourage an environment where employees feel not only safe, but also welcome and valued, and can contribute their best to the organization.
"We're currently working on 71 different initiatives," says Biddle, who oversees all programming related to diversity and inclusion. "We focus a lot on education, to make sure we have the right training and support, and we work with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion to help promote diversity in our organization."
These initiatives are developed with the help of internal councils and committees made up of employee volunteers. Each has an executive sponsor and is dedicated to furthering the interests of a specific group of employees: women, LGBTQ+, youth, people with disabilities, First Nations, new Canadians and visible minorities. "We need to ensure we're listening to all voices," says Biddle.
Lance Jefferies, Hydro Ottawa's Chief Electricity Distribution Officer, is executive sponsor of the Accessibility Committee. "The members of our committee have real engagement and passion. We all bring value," he says.
"My personal story is that my first-born child had a severe disability, in a wheelchair all his life. It made me realize we're not an accessible society," Jefferies adds. "That's why I was excited to be involved with the committee and in ensuring our facilities are fully accessible. Management has been very receptive to our recommendations."
In addition to the councils and committees, says Parent-Garvey, Hydro Ottawa has external partnerships with a variety of organizations that promote diversity, including Hire Immigrants Ottawa, the Ottawa Catholic School Board, In-TAC, EARN, Algonquin College and Carleton University. These partnerships not only inform the community about opportunities that are available, but they also encourage employment among traditionally under-represented groups, such as women in the trades and engineering, while providing the company with access to the widest possible pool of talent.
For the last two years, mental health has been a strong focus for HydroOttawa, says Jefferies. "We leverage momentum from the Bell Let's Talk initiative to reduce the stigma. It's another aspect of our focus on safety - we've adapted it to include mental health safety, through tools to alleviate stress and with fitness centres to promote overall health."
"We have a mental health initiative with Queen's University to help people leaders better understand the issues and know when to step in," says Biddle. "We also get involved with the Not Myself Today campaign to help people realize how minor changes in performance can be a sign of something serious going on."
"Diversity is good for business because it brings a wider range of experiences and perspectives," Parent-Garvey concludes. "This makes for better business decisions, and it aligns us with the community."
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 14, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Hydro Ottawa was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
- Hydro Ottawa continues to expand its hydroelectric capacity as well as invest in alternative energy for the future, partnering with the City of Ottawa to install solar panels on eight municipal buildings as well as plans for additional installations on former industrial sites in the city.
- In addition to ongoing efforts to green its fleet (from vehicles to boom trucks), Hydro Ottawa recently established a partnership with FLO, the country's largest electric vehicle charging network, to install 100 level two charging stations throughout the Ottawa area
Hydro Ottawa connects the dots for a greener city
When people and businesses in the National Capital Region need advice about how to reduce their environmental footprint, they can turn to Hydro Ottawa for help. The company not only generates and distributes clean power, it also works closely with its customers and the wider community to cultivate a more sustainable city.
These efforts link the company's various strategic priorities, says Lyne Parent-Garvey, Chief Human Resources Officer. "Beyond a reduction in energy usage, we help Ottawa become greener by connecting the dots between community involvement, customer focus and environmental responsibility."
For its commercial customers, Hydro Ottawa has a team of employees trained in building operations and technologies who help organizations upgrade their buildings. "The vast majority of our team's time is spent on creating a culture of conservation, and the only way to do that is to become a trusted advisor for our customers," says Shane Labrash, Supervisor, Energy Conservation, Business Development.
"We help make their buildings more comfortable, energy-efficient and profitable. By installing new lights through one of our incentive programs, for example, they can save energy and also increase productivity with a more comfortable work environment for employees."
Through its Retrofit Program, Hydro Ottawa contributes to the cost of replacing inefficient equipment and installing new systems that will reduce energy consumption and improve operational processes. "We have the staff and technical capability to estimate how much the retrofit will save," Labrash says. "Eleven buildings in Ottawa have recently earned an Energy Star certification and the Retrofit Program helped reduce the cost of the energy efficiency investments required."
More specific initiatives aimed at commercial customers include a refrigeration incentive for the hospitality industry and a lighting program for small businesses. "And we walk the talk," Parent-Garvey adds. "While we're greening our business customers, we're also doing what we ask them to do, by greening our own business practices, fleet and facilities."
Hydro Ottawa is a trusted advisor for its residential customers as well, and takes a proactive role in getting the word out to homeowners about how they can save energy.
"We have a street team that goes to hundreds of local events where people come up and ask us about their electricity use and how we can help," says Rebecca Hickey, Supervisor, Media and Public Affairs. "We're especially active over the summer when we have students to staff our team. They tell people about lightbulbs, power bars and our programs like Poolsaver, which provides a rebate for more efficient pool pumps.
"The idea of the street team is to showcase our leadership in conservation and also encourage people to participate. It's part of our role of being involved in the local community."
Other residential initiatives include the innovative Hydro Ottawa app, which provides specific ideas for saving energy based on a customer's own usage information, and Save on Energy Deal Days with reduced prices for energy-efficient devices.
Educating young people about electrical safety and saving energy is another priority for Hydro Ottawa. Since 2001, more than 250,000 elementary-aged children have participated in a program designed to build awareness and a culture of conservation, including a quiz for students to discuss with their parents at home.
Hydro Ottawa also has a partnership with Christie Lake Kids, a local charity for underprivileged children, which runs a summer camp. "We've helped with the efficiency elements of the camp and our employees volunteer to get the property ready in the spring," says Hickey.
Towards the end of each year, Hydro Ottawa connects even more dots between sustainability, community involvement and corporate citizenship through an initiative that gives $5 to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario for every customer who signs up for paperless electronic billing. In the last three months of 2017 alone, the program raised more than $88,000, which the hospital used to acquire a new paperless, portable echocardiogram.