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 Pembina Pipeline Corporation was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018) and Alberta's Top Employers (2017):
- In addition to the company's regular health benefits plan, Pembina offers a health and wellness spending account of $1,000, allowing employees to flex levels of coverage to suit their personal needs
- Pembina cultivates an ownership culture through a share purchase plan and encourages employees to prepare for the future with retirement planning assistance and contributions to defined benefit and defined contribution pension plans as well as a matching RSP program
- Pembina is active in the community, supporting a number of local, national and international charitable organizations each year -- the company also encourages employees to give back with matching charitable donations as well as donations to organizations where employees volunteer their time ($500 for every 50 hours volunteered)
There's a pipeline of inspiration at Pembina
In a recent town hall meeting at Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corporation, one of the questions for management was, "Will we still maintain the family-oriented feeling with all the growth we're going through?" The answer? "It might feel larger, but we're going to fight every step along the way to keep a family culture."
Earlier this year, the company put $3 billion worth of projects into service and acquired Veresen Inc., increasing staff to around 1,600 from 400 in 2010. As Pembina CEO Mick Dilger explains: "We were once owned by a single family and we value our family culture. We work very hard at preserving that."
That culture is one of the many draws of Pembina. Robin Prashad has been at the company for 18 months as an Accountant in the financial reporting stream. At first, he was attracted to Pembina by the competitive salary and benefits -- "fantastic," he says, compared to other, similar businesses. One standout is the $1,000 each employee receives for anything health-and wellness-related -- a gym membership or a new bicycle, for example.
But Prashad has come to appreciate the many other benefits of working there, particularly how important it is for management that employees are engaged and challenged in their work. "At Pembina, it's ingrained in the culture to have your leader supportive of your career," he says. His boss checks in with Prashad quarterly to see, among other things, if there are any other roles in the company he might be interested in. "There's a lot of emphasis on advancement and trying different things," he adds. "They don't want you to get bored and leave."
Pembina also pays for courses that help staff to grow and develop into different roles in the company. And they offer secondments so that employees can try different jobs. "Leaders are good at finding out what direction you want to head in and they make every effort to get you into something similar in the company," says Prashad.
Making employees feel valued is important to Dilger. "When people complain about the company they work for, it's usually because they don't feel like a valued part of the organization," says Dilger, who has been with Pembina for 13 years.
Recently, Pembina gave every employee an additional week of holiday in 2018 as thanks for the hard work and extra time spent on implementing its
record capital program and on the acquisition of Veresen. "Due to techno-logy, people are almost always connected to their work and that's an expectation most companies now have," he says, "but it's not lost on us that you have to give something back to make it feel like a fair deal."
Pembina gives back to more than just its employees. Not only does it support everything from fire departments to food banks in its operating communi-ties, but the company also encourages its staff to do the same, matching employee donations to no limit and providing grants for volunteer hours. Through its signature community investment initiative, Fuel 4 Thought, Pembina helped provide 120,000 breakfasts for children in local communities during the last school year.
Dilger says the purpose of his company is fourfold, and without giving equal consideration to each of the four, "you're doomed." To Pembina, success comes from having happy employees, growth and expansion, doing a good job for the customers who pay the bills, and having a good relationship with stakeholders. "We believe those investments in the community and our employees have a high return," he says. "It's not quantitative, it's qualitative. If you have 1,600 inspired employees, that's how you make money. They don't want to let you down."
In tough times, Pembina shows it cares
It's hard to imagine a company more supportive of its employees' charitable giving than Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corporation. It matches individual employee charitable contributions, with no limit, and donates additional funds to not-for-profits where employees volunteer their own time ? $10 for every hour volunteered up to $500. That's on top of time off for corporate volunteering.
Pembina's giving culture also extends to its local communities. Last year, the company boosted its Community Investment giving from $3 million to $3.8 million, a 27-per-cent-increase during a time when demand for social services jumped as plunging crude prices devastated the Alberta energy industry. Going forward, Pembina plans to double its community giving in the next two years.
"We are proud of our financial success, but recognize that corporate success goes beyond our share- holders," says President and CEO Mick Dilger. "We want our communities to benefit from having us as a neighbour. It's the right thing to do. Also, our employees expect it.
"Despite recent turmoil in econo-mic markets, Pembina continues to be an industry leader in providing incentives such as defined-benefit pension plans. "We resisted pressure to eliminate it when market returns were terrible and we had to make up the shortfall," says Dilger, adding that a guaranteed pension is "part of the bargain we make as a good employer."
Among other points of corporate pride are the company's safety and economic records, with no em-ployee lost-time injuries for more than three years and no economic layoffs, despite tough times. "Even if we weren't profitable, I would have resisted letting people go," says Dilger. Indeed, Pembina hasn't imposed layoffs since it became a public company 20 years ago.
For Dilger, treating employees well is part of the "secret sauce for success." Growth, of course, is also key, but so is employee engagement. "You can have a life-long career here if you do a good job," says Dilger, "with lots of opportunities to move around and undertake new challenges."
Indeed, Corporate Planning and Finance Analyst Carla Sponheimer has benefited from a number of opportunities in her six years with Pembina. Hired as a University of Calgary student before she finished her degree, Sponheimer says the company wants its employees to "grow professionally and personally."
Pembina also provided workplace flexibility for Sponheimer to finish her undergraduate degree and did the same as she earned a CFA designation, with the company covering all costs. Says Sponheimer: "Pembina appreciates that my success contributes to its success."