Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 30, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why Alberta Innovates was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2023):
- Alberta Innovates launched the formal Choose How U Work program to offer employees expanded work options, including flexible hours, working from home and working from anywhere
- Alberta Innovates helps employees plan for life after work with retirement planning assistance along with a defined benefit pension plan and a non-matching RSP contribution program
- Alberta Innovates manages a diverse health benefits plan, offering a flex account that can be allocated to health or wellness spending accounts or distributed to retirement savings, as well as coverage for mental health practitioners (up to $1,500 annually)
Alberta Innovates wants to influence the future
“We’re working on the challenges not just of today’s technology and innovation, but 30 years or so into the future,” says Laura Kilcrease, CEO of Alberta Innovates (AI). The provincial crown corporation invests in research, innovation, and entrepreneurship to boost economic growth and diversity. A focus on what’s next drives AI’s concentration and impact in such areas as moving towards a low-carbon future and embracing the future of work itself.
A year ago, the company rolled out its unique flexible workplace option, re-imagining how diverse individual preferences can be balanced with business deliverables.
“Choose How U Work offered employees choices that are both practical and innovative,” says Kilcrease.
The program taps into each employee’s entrepreneurial spirit to continue the success of remote work, while encouraging creative exchanges when teams come together for collaboration days. Opt-in components allow each employee to personalize where and how they work.
The emphasis on innovating within core processes applies to all aspects of the employee experience beyond this new model of work. Kilcrease says she and her team are committed to maintaining ongoing engagement and communication, so everyone understands the important role they play in the agency’s purpose as the province’s innovation engine.
Introduced pre-pandemic, Coffee with Kilcrease gained impact as a virtual gathering for remote employees to connect informally with the leadership team during a 30-minute monthly session.
“They can ask us any questions – from what’s going on in the political environment to what’s my favorite pizza,” she says.
This augments a suite of channels and tools used to keep information flowing and timely. A dedicated employee intranet spotlights employee accomplishments, business townhalls are held online, e-blasts go out weekly and employee-led lunch and learns happen often.
Kilcrease says that in a hybrid work environment, her team emphasizes checking in with employees. Employees described as Pacesetters are those throughout the organization who personify its values and draw the connections between big-picture goals and specific jobs and assignments.
“We rely on Pacesetters to raise the things they’re thinking about in the next five years,” she says. “We are intentional about creating a culture of openness with our employees.”
A key part of this culture is how the five C values – collaboration, creativity, can-do spirit, commitment and curiosity – are embedded into the everyday. A recognition program that allows employees to send digital cards to spotlight great work has been key in cultivating an attitude of gratitude and acknowledgement.
Brian Eaton, manager of the environmental impacts team at InnoTech Alberta, AI’s applied research subsidiary, also points to opportunities for professional development. They range from subsidies for degree courses to online course offerings, as well as bringing instructors in to give exclusive courses to employees.
Eaton talks about how 20 of his colleagues are receiving project manager training through this program, to improve the efficiency of their projects on the job and in real time.
Beyond opportunities for strengthening skills in a specific field, he says, he’s enthusiastic about how InnoTech can share research and communicate across specialties.
“I think that speaks to the opportunities that are here – to be creative in your own field, to build these networks across multiple organizations and disciplines, and to just have fun,” says Eaton.
Across AI and its subsidiaries, Kilcrease and her team are making shared purpose a powerful unifying force that combines talents and strengths, forges connections across departments, seeks out synergies and shapes the future.
For Kilcrease and AI, that future looks bright. “We describe our employees as game changers,” she says, “and we do it for a reason – our game changers are making a difference to the province.”