Putting employees first led to OPG’s Workplace Benefits Awards win

Ontario Power Generation’s win in the absence management category at Benefits Canada’s 2018 Workplace Benefits Awards has meant a lot to the organization, especially for upper management, because it showed them it’s putting employees first, says Tanya Hickey, senior manager of health and safety strategies.

She believes OPG won the award because of the many proactive things it’s done. “We took a look at our disability management program and how it was working and what was not working. And we sat down with a lot of different people — supervisors, unions, stakeholders, such as labour relations, human resources, different components within our organization — and went through the various stages of the process.” 

Read: OPG wins absence management award for efforts to shift workplace culture

An example was changing the language in employee communications. “If it was a letter [for employees], we went through the letters and made sure they were more supportive to help the employee as opposed to [it being] very cold and not very touchy feely,” says Hickey. “So we made it more touchy feely, so the employee felt like OPG cared about their health and were reaching out to show support.”

Apart from changing the tone of communications, the organization also spent time making its process more efficient, she notes. The end result? “A substantial decrease in our total absences, 20-something per cent, I believe.”

Read: Peer recognition big part of entering Workplace Benefits Awards, says 2018 winner

The nomination process for the Workplace Benefits Awards was a good opportunity in itself, says Hickey, noting it allows a company to reflect on what it has accomplished. “I don’t think people give themselves enough credit for what they’ve done,” she adds. “And then it’s a good pat on the back if you win and it’s in Benefits Canada. It’s the big bar to follow with respect to human resources and pensions, so it certainly is a good way to gauge how you’re doing.”

Enter your organization in the 2019 Workplace Benefit Awards here. The deadline for nominations is June 30.