This is the third of three parts of our coverage of the Vancouver Benefits & Pension Summit. Part 1 was published on Monday and Part 2 was published on Tuesday.

A series of business divestments that resulted in staff reductions exceeding 75% of the upstream workforce created a challenging time at BP Canada Energy Group ULC.

“It was difficult both for the employees who left and for those that stayed who were wondering about the future,” said Doug Dickson, the Calgary-based company’s vice-president of HR. “We had to create a compelling case to show our investment in our people and demonstrate that while we were changing we were committed to Build a Bright Future in Canada for our employees and other key stakeholders.”

Today, BP Canada’s newly designed benefits and wellness program goes a long way to getting employees to feel good about where the company is going. The journey from a 15-year-old disjointed benefits plan that was full of gaps to an innovative, flexible and sustainable program that’s good for both employees and the company was the topic of Dickson’s presentation at the 2013 Benefits & Pension Summit held September 24 in Vancouver.

Working with Julia Graham, a senior consultant, health and group benefits, with Towers Watson Canada Inc., BP Canada developed a “best place to work strategy” that examined issues, opportunities and directions for change.

“We wanted to radically change what we offered to provide an innovative program to exceed the needs of our staff and potentially delight their families, while also reducing our risks and leveraging technology to reduce administration,” Dickson explained. “Our new benefits and wellness program is entirely paperless and uses iPads, which were given to each of our employees when we launched the program. Our new hires also get them.”

An employee survey uncovered demands for more flexibility in how to spend individual benefits dollars, a better work/life balance with more vacation and flex time, on-site or subsidized fitness or health options, and a better physical work environment.

The company followed through by coming up with Elements of Life, a comprehensive program that promotes physical health, emotional health, social health and financial health. Virgin HealthMiles, hired as the wellness program administrator, links together other wellness partners that support the four different elements.

“The best plan is one that satisfies the most needs on an efficient basis,” said Dickson. “And we wanted to do something cool and fun for our employees and their families.”

The “fun” part was evident during the 2012 launch, which included a wellness fair, FitCamp with Tommy Europe and a series of four humorous videos, while the communications campaign incorporated traditional and new technology such as a microsite, a social media-based platform, iPads and QR codes. As a result, more than 95% of BP’s 450 employees enrolled on time in the benefits program, and 90% are currently enrolled in the wellness program.

“Our benefits and wellness program is still evolving,” added Dickson. “In the second year, we are expanding to include families. After all, when the whole family is involved in wellness it works a lot better. In Year 2, we are also stepping into the mental health space to address this very important element that as a society we all need to understand better and proactively address.”


Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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