People

Chapter 4.3

People

    Performance Highlights

    • Syncrude recognized among Alberta’s top employers, best workplaces for diversity and top employers for young people
    • Cambridge University names Syncrude an employer of choice
    • 74 per cent of all new hires sourced from local region

    Our Approach

    Canada’s oil and gas sector will face increasing pressure to find skilled workers in the next several years as hiring needs are rising at the same time as many people in the current workforce are retiring. In fact, 43 per cent of Syncrude employees are age 45 or older. This could create significant challenges for our operation due to a lack of highly skilled and long-term employees, including project delays, safety impacts, and increased costs to find, hire, train and retain qualified talent.

    Syncrude is responding with strong employee programs and support for a wide range of labour pool development initiatives, including those designed to increase Aboriginal representation and diversity in our workforce. We feel this focus can enhance attraction and retention rates, as well as build employee loyalty, trust and morale. We also aim to hire as much as possible from within the local Wood Buffalo region, and to give preference to qualified local candidates over others.

    2013 Overall Performance

    Syncrude filled 508 vacancies during 2013, ending the year with 5,188 employees. Of the new hires, 74 per cent were from the local region, 22 per cent were female and seven per cent Aboriginal. The acceptance rate on job offers was 82 per cent. Attrition across all employee categories dropped by almost half from the previous year to 7.5 per cent, due mostly to reductions in the number of people retiring or opting to leave the company.

    Human Resources Policies

    Syncrude recognizes that the integrity of our operations is dependent on our people. We need to ensure that our operations are conducted in a manner that protects safety, security, health and the environment, and conforms to laws and regulations. Toward this, we have a comprehensive suite of policies to guide human resources matters and ensure the fair and ethical treatment of employees. The Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS) outlines expectations related to safety, health and environment positions to ensure they are filled by qualified people and assessed regularly.

    As an Alberta-based company, Syncrude adheres to all applicable laws and regulations concerning employment standards and the prevention of discrimination, including the Alberta Human Rights Act, the Canadian Human Rights Act, Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Regulation, Occupational Health and Safety, Duty to Accommodate, and the Personal Information Protection Act of Alberta.

    Labour Pool Initiatives

    Syncrude has a multi-staged approach to address its workforce needs.

    It begins by raising awareness of career opportunities in the oil sands by participating in such initiatives as school and campus presentations, career fairs and other special events, and trades development programs like those promoted by CAREERS: The Next Generation.

    This is followed by support for initiatives that develop the available pool of skilled labour through college, technical and university-based programs, and apprenticeships. They provide the foundation for comprehensive recruitment plans to address our ongoing labour requirements. One example is the Oil Sands Power & Process Engineering Lab at Keyano College. Syncrude is the lead corporate supporter of this new training facility, which had its first intake of students in January 2014. Funded in part with a $5 million corporate donation we made in 2008, the Lab is the first phase of the college’s Oil Sands Trades & Research Centre. It will provide industry with increased access to skilled employees who have a solid understanding of oil sands operations. With a capacity of 468 students, the Lab nearly triples previous capacity of 165. Students will graduate as 4th and 3rd class power engineers. Current Syncrude employees will also be able to take upgrading courses.

    We also support the learning ambitions of our employees’ and retirees’ children through the Syncrude Higher Education Awards Program. Dependent children can qualify for up to $2,400 for each year of their post-secondary degree or diploma education. About $972,000 in program scholarships was granted to 553 applicants (returning and new) in 2013.

    For a further discussion of our labour pool initiatives visit our corporate website.

    Support For Diversity

    Syncrude invests in programs aimed at increasing Aboriginal and female representation in our workplace and industry. This includes the Aboriginal Trades Preparation Program at Keyano College, offered from 2009 until 2012, which graduated 68 students. This initiative prepared participating students to pursue trades apprenticeship training through academic upgrading and work experience placements at our operation. Upon successful completion, the students were eligible to become indentured apprentices at Syncrude. Future programs are currently being determined by the college, but have not yet been finalized.

    Syncrude is one of the main sponsors of the Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology program through the University of Alberta, which has a 30-year record of delivering programs and networks that increase the diversity of voices represented in science, engineering and technology. Thirty-eight young women and two young men participated in the 2013 summer program, and over 200 female high schools students attended its annual conference. WISEST also recently introduced the program Tales from the Science Buffalo for Grade 6 that introduces students to Aboriginal science perspectives and to careers in the sciences.

    Syncrude currently has an imbalance between the numbers of female employees in leadership roles compared to men. To help narrow the gap, we established an informal support network of Syncrude-employed women who possess vast potential for excelling into more senior roles, and who could mentor and learn from one another. Meetings have included topics on ensuring an equal voice and how to maintain a family life while advancing a career. This key initiative is now evolving into a more structured, international model based on a similar program developed by ExxonMobil.

    Syncrude was named one of Alberta’s Top 60 Employers and one of Canada’s Top Employers of Young People in 2013.

    Workplace Development And retention Initiatives

    Syncrude offers a variety of education and training opportunities, and incentive programs, to our employees. These encourage people to commit to a career with the organization, and develop the specific skills that we need to run our operation.

    In 2012, for example, we renewed for another three-year term the retention program for Fort McMurray-based employees, which rewards them financially for their commitment and contributions to Syncrude. In 2013, we renewed for another term the housing support program first launched in 2009 to help improve our ability to attract and retain employees in Fort McMurray, where the labour market is competitive, and accommodation costs are high when compared to other Alberta regions. The five-year program (January 2014 to December 2018) provides financial compensation to eligible employees to assist them with the cost of home ownership, including down payment and mortgage interest subsidies. Subsidies for renters are also provided. In addition, Syncrude offers the Impact 21 incentive program, which financially rewards employees for achieving quarterly and annual targets in the areas of safety, production, cost and energy efficiency.

    For a full discussion of our workplace development and retention initiatives visit our corporate website.

    Employee Engagement

    In late 2013, Syncrude executives initiated a video series as a way to connect with employees about issues raised during the 2012 all-employee forums. The videos are being shown in team meetings after which team leaders facilitate discussions about the video topics. Employees have the opportunity to complete surveys that provide feedback on the topic matter. The videos are also hosted on the company intranet. Video topics include: environmental responsibility, regional transportation infrastructure, career development, workforce planning, internal communications, attendance management practices, facilities maintenance, corporate goal setting, employee reward programs, and others.

    A new website was launched in 2013 to enhance communication with employees wherever they may be located. The website recognizes that many of our people work in the field and are not readily available to a desktop computer. Now they can use mobile platforms, such as smart phones and tablets, as well as their home computer, to securely access important Syncrude information and stay connected.

    Initial plans have been formed for a 2014 employee survey that is proposed to get input from a random sample of about 500 employees (10 per cent of our employee population). Insights gleaned will help Syncrude in its ongoing efforts to create a workplace where employees’ opinions are valued and used to inform corporate plans and programs, including attraction and retention efforts. Survey results are to be shared with employees at the all-employee forums in late 2014. In addition, employees are able to provide anonymous feedback or opinions on company policies, actions or plans through a special internal communications mechanism. Inquiries are forwarded to the Chief Executive Officer, President or Vice-President of the area in question, and responded to in a timely manner.

    Corporate Awards

    Syncrude is proud to have received several awards in 2013. These reinforce our efforts to be a preferred employer and a responsible oil sands producer.

    Cambridge University 2013 Employer of Choice

    Syncrude was one of 60 global companies recognized. Researchers cited our commitment to productive engagement with employees, workplace diversity, corporate governance and values, employee development, innovation and sustainability. Also cited were Syncrude’s progressive reclamation practices, Aboriginal relations and hiring, research and development, employee mentorship, and community investment.

    Alberta’s Top 65 Employers 2013

    Adjudicators cited Syncrude’s retirement planning, phased-in work options, defined-benefit pension plan, apprenticeships, formal mentoring, leadership training and tuition subsidies for job-related courses, scholarship program for children of employees, annual vacation leave, personal paid days-off and compassionate leave top-ups.

    Canada’s Top Employers of Young People 2013

    Syncrude was cited for our apprenticeship, training and development programs, summer work placements for high school students, mentoring program and excellent starting benefits.

    Alberta’s Best Workplaces 2013

    Syncrude was named Best Workplace for Diversity with special mention made of our Aboriginal relations program.

    Trudy Boostrom is an apprentice tradesperson from the Syncrude Aboriginal Trades Preparation Program

    Trudy Boostrom, a fourth-year apprentice electrician at Syncrude, will soon earn her journeyman ticket. Trudy was a student in the Syncrude Aboriginal Trades Preparation program at Keyano College, to which Syncrude committed $2 million. It was designed to lead candidates to full-time employment with Syncrude upon successful completion of course work and an apprenticeship entrance exam. Syncrude Maintenance Manager, Annie Lawley, says the program “is a win for the company, for the region’s Aboriginal communities and for the people who emerge with rewarding careers in the skilled trades.” Twenty-eight program graduates were employed by Syncrude in 2013.

    Workforce by the Numbers

     
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    Total permanent workforce
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    5,580 5,689 5,515 5,083 5,188
    % under age 20
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    0.2 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.1
    % age 20-24
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    7.6 6.9 5.2 4.7 2.3
    % age 25-29
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    13.9 14.2 14.3 14.2 12.9
    % age 30-34
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    14.0 14.1 14.5 15.1 14.9
    % age 35-39
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    11.5 12.1 11.8 12.1 13.7
    % age 40-44
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    12.1 12.0 12.4 13.0 12.5
    % age 45-49
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    14.1 13.7 14.0 14.4 13.1
    % age 50-54
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    15.2 15.2 14.8 15.7 15.3
    % age 55-59
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    9.1 9.0 10.9 8.4 10.9
    % over age 60
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    2.4 2.6 2.1 2.5 4.3
    Workforce - temporary and casual
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    109 102 145 133 156
    Employees covered by collective bargaining agreements (%)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    0 0 0 0 0
    New permanent employees - all categories
    All categories
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    805 569 234 326 508
    Trades and operators
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    539 395 172 189 331
    Administrative, professional and technical
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    266 174 62 137 177
    New employees - diversity
    Aboriginal
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    87 59 36 32 32
    Female
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    164 111 45 88 113
    Recruiting effectiveness
    New hire acceptance rate (% of offers)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    88 88 89 94 82
    Local hires (% of all new hires)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    68 72 71 76 74
    Job applications received (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    47,302 44,343 25,452 57,899 55,598

    1 Fewer applications in 2011 reflect a reduced number of job postings during the year.

    Scholarships, Bursaries and Endowments

     
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    Annual scholarships, bursaries and endowments ($)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    1,018,000 1,054,800 940,415 1,033,200 971,964
    Numbers of employee student scholarships
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    428 461 516 558 553
    Number of tuition refunds to Syncrude employees
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    82 84 144 130 106

    Human Resources Scorecard

     
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    Employee Productivity
    Thousand barrels of crude oil per employee
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    18,309 18,815 19,075 20,637 18,793
    Average employee service (in years)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    9.4 9.2 9.6 9.5 9.5
    Female
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    7.9 7.9 8.6 8.5 8.5
    Aboriginal
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    9.7 9.6 10.2 10.2 10.8
    Leadership Development
    % leaders completed training
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    53 57 60 59 62
    % leaders completed diversity training
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    61 64 69 61 67
    % leaders completed harassment and discrimination awareness training
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    51 64 73 65 78
    Diversity
    Aboriginal representation 1:
    Number of Employees
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    479 484 492 474 452
    % of permanent Syncrude workforce
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    8.4 8.4 8.6 9.1 8.7
    % of new hires
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    10.8 10.4 15.4 9.8 6.3
    Aboriginal leaders (% of permanent Syncrude leaders)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    5.9 5.8 5.5 6.0 6.2
    Female representation:
    Number of Employees
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    1,036 1,011 950 958 988
    % of permanent Syncrude workforce
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    19.2 18.9 18.6 18.8 19.0
    % of new hires
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    20.4 19.5 19.2 27.0 22.2
    Female leaders (% of permanent Syncrude leaders)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    9.8 10.6 11.8 12.7 11.6
    Attrition (% of Syncrude workforce)
    All employees, including retirements
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    9.0 8.0 5.5 14.2 7.5
    Employee initiated termination
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    4.2 4.0 2.6 7.4 4.7
    Company initiated termination
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    1.1 1.2 0.9 0.8 0.7
    Retirements
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    3.5 2.7 1.9 5.8 2.0
    Aboriginal
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    9.8 10.2 5.6 10.4 8.2
    Female
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    10.2 10.1 6.5 12.7 8.3
    Trades and operators
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    9.1 6.9 4.9 12.1 8.5
    Administrative, professional and technical
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    8.9 9.4 6.3 16.1 6.8
    Ratio of standard entry level wage to minimum wage 2
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    3.5 3.6 3.5 3.5 3.6
    Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) utilization
    # of clients as % of Syncrude workforce
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    13.7 16.7 18.5 16.3 16.8
    Training
    % hours in training per employee/per annum
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    1.1 1.1 1.0 0.8 0.8
    Employee recognition
    # of recognitions to employees 3
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    12,143 5,912 6,415 5,081 6,519
    Ethics
    Anonymous submissions to EthicsPoint
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    11 16 13 11 15

    1 Self-declaration only; Syncrude does not mandate employees to disclose cultural or minority status.

    2 Based on basic wage for entry level trades/operators position and Alberta hourly minimum wage of each reporting year.

    3 Includes service and safety awards.

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