Recognized as one of Saskatchewan's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 3, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Access Communications Co-operative Ltd. was selected as one of Saskatchewan's Top Employers (2021):
- Access Communications encourages employees to keep their skills up to date with tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions as well as offering financial bonuses for some course completions, to $500
- Access Communications supports new and adoptive moms with maternity and parental leave top-up payments to 100 per cent of salary for up to 17 weeks -- and allows new parents to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence, along with offering a variety of alternative work options to help them balance their work and personal lives
Access Communications bands together through the pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Carole Sauer sent weekly emails with important information about what was happening at Regina-based Access Communications Co-operative to its employees. And to make people smile, she added funny cartoons.
“I tried to provide some humour in a situation where people were worried and scared,” says Sauer, the telecommunications company’s human resources and safety senior manager who was appointed head of the emergency response team. “People loved it, and it was a good opportunity to lessen the gap between the senior management team, the employees in the field across the province and those working from home. We know how important our frontline staff have been and wanted to recognize that in our updates.”
Broadband technician Jordan Mihalicz, a member of the rural wireless team in North Battleford, is one of those frontline workers. Because telecommunications was deemed an essential service, installation and repairs continued but with new safety protocols in place, including an equipment self-installation option with an instruction sheet plus phone or video support. Before house calls, technicians would call customers to ask COVID-19 pre-screening questions – and they’d also check in with each other.
“We’re a tight-knit group of technicians who keep each other accountable,” says Mihalicz, who chats with his fellow techs on Bluetooth as he drives home from a job that could be as far as two and a half hours away. “That cohesiveness with my co-workers is one of my favourite things about working for Access.”
Prior to the pandemic, one of the biggest problems facing the technicians was squirrels. “They’re our worst enemy because they chew our lines,” says Mihalicz. “A couple of chomps and you could lose your TV or internet service.”
The pandemic brought perspective – and also wireless internet to those in rural areas who hadn’t yet signed up for it. “We were really busy in the beginning,” says Mihalicz. “If you have school-age kids at home, one way to keep them occupied is to get them on the internet.”
Like the other senior leaders, Sauer worked long hours during lockdown and is proud of how employees banded together to get the job done without any service interruptions. The 100-per-cent Sasatchewan-owned co-operative’s operations contribute millions of dollars to the local economies of the communities Access serves.
“Our emergency response team made sure our employees, our customers and our communities came first,” says Sauer. “We worked together to keep Saskatchewan connected when it mattered most.”