Q&A with PCL Construction’s Mike Olsson

PCL Construction Ltd.’s vice-president of human resources and professional development discusses the many dimensions of wellness, virtual health care and hiking in the Rockies.

Q. What are the top challenges you face in your role?

A. The top challenge right now is getting employees aware and involved with their [benefits] plan. We’re on a flex plan so it’s really making sure employees are involved and proactive in their choices. The other challenge is about the constant movement with data and metrics. We have to have the right information so we can make long-term strategic decisions, and therefore the systems and data need to talk to each other.

Q. What new programs or initiatives are you looking to implement?

A. We’re doing a pilot with virtual health care, where our employees can connect via the telephone and online with medical practitioners. A small percentage of our company is on this pilot and it’s going to run this year.

Read: Just 9% of employers offer virtual health care: survey

We have employees working long hours or remotely, and they might be out of town for several days — this might be a great way for them to get their health-care needs covered while they’re away, instead of waiting for when they get back. It isn’t just for our employees, it’s also for their families. Families are busy, and if we can save them time . . . that’s money well spent.

Q. How do you judge the success of a program or initiative?

A. We’re doing a lot of work on the data metrics side, trying to gauge the impact of our programs and looking at them long term. If we’ve had a campaign, do we see any impacts? We also have annual employee surveys and our WellPCL committees. [The committees] aren’t just the HR or total rewards professionals, and they’re in all our major centres.

Q. What program do you consider the most successful, or that you’re most proud of?

Career crib sheet

2014 — present
Vice-president, HR and professional development, PCL Construction

2005 — 2014
Regional HR and professional development manager, Canadian industrial, PCL Construction

2001 — 2005
Learning technologies branch project manager, LearnAlberta.ca

1995 — 2001
Secondary school math teacher

A. Our WellPCL program. We believe health and wellness is a combination of well-being, so we’ve got seven dimensions of wellness we plan our programs around: emotional, physical, intellectual, environmental, occupational, social and spiritual. Every month, there’s a focus on a different dimension.

Read: PCL staff plant trees, recycle batteries and more for Earth Day

May is mental-health awareness month, so we’re focusing on emotional and intellectual wellness. We held a wellness fair in Edmonton with 43 wellness partners from Alberta, and 300 [employees] came to the event. And people outside of Edmonton were able to attend the fair virtually.

Q. What key HR issues do you expect in 2019?

A. One is data and metrics. We’re going to continue to go down the road of doing our best to stay on top of that so we can make key HR decisions based on data. The second is recruiting. We’re finding employees are looking at more than just pay; they’re looking for a company that’s going to support them and their families and their personal health and wellness.

Recruiting is a big HR issue for us — making sure we get the right people in the right place. And in order to do that, we certainly feel a great health and wellness strategy makes our company more attractive.

Q. What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

A. In the past, it was more running and triathlon. Now it’s shifted to golf. I love the mountains, so I do an annual backpacking trip. It’s about five days in the Rockies and I go with my dad, who’s 78, and my daughters, so it’s a nice multigenerational trip. We love getting out there.

Read: Two-thirds of global employees would swap data for more customized benefits

Q. What’s your favourite employee benefit and why?

A. The easy access, the communication about the services we provide. Really, just the involvement of the company in these programs is my favourite benefit. It’s the access to everything and having it right there in front of you.

Kelsey Rolfe is an associate editor at Benefits Canada.