Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2022):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 31, 2022)
Here are some of the reasons why Hydro Ottawa was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2022):
- Hydro Ottawa celebrates exceptional performance and achievement through a number of awards, including the Living Our Values award, the CEO's Award for Innovation and Productivity, awards for leadership excellence, emerging leaders and safety excellence, and the President's Commendation for Safety
- Hydro Ottawa manages the Brighter Tomorrows community investment program, which focuses on three priority areas of education and capacity building; renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation; and health, safety and wellness -- and encourages employee involvement with a paid day off to volunteer and matching employee donations
- Hydro Ottawa provides maternity and parental leave top-up payments for employees who are new mothers (to 90 per cent of salary for up to 25 weeks) and parental top-up for new fathers and adoptive parents (to 90 per cent of salary for up to 10 weeks)
Hydro Ottawa empowers employees through technology
Hydro Ottawa powerline technicians must regularly log vehicle information and work performed to work orders, log books and timesheets while in the field. These processes used to involve a lot of paper that had to move from person to person for review and approval.
“Now, it’s all done in the palm of your hand. It’s so easy,” says Matthew Stuyt, supervisor, distribution operations. “It also gives you visibility. As an employee, you don’t feel left in the dark when information leaves your hands. You can see where things are in the process and you feel involved and empowered.”
What Stuyt describes is all part of Hydro Ottawa’s “anytime, anywhere, from any device” self-service approach to technology. “We have put in place technology solutions so that employees have ready access to the information they need to do their jobs and make faster, more informed decisions,” says Lyne Parent-Garvey, chief human resources officer.
“It aligns with our strategic direction of putting the customer at the centre of everything we do. We are always focused on finding ways to improve and innovate. Helping employees to be more efficient means they can better serve our customers.”
Self-serve, mobile-enabled technology makes many work tasks simpler and more convenient for employees, putting control back in their hands, says Donna Burnett Vachon, director, change and organization development.
“The workforce is getting younger and has grown up in a world where they can pull up information on their phone and find what they need quickly,” Burnett Vachon says. “So everything we're doing now is about making it easier and more accessible for employees. How do we make sure they have access to the information they need when they need it?”
Kelly Ennis, technology and analytics specialist, was involved in implementing Hydro Ottawa’s first major mobile-enabled, self-serve human resources system, Workday, which was released in 2018 and allows employees to complete tasks like inputting their time worked, requesting time off or updating personal information directly into the system, with full visibility to their own profile.
The organization, which delivers electricity to more than 346,000 homes and businesses in Ottawa, has since added health and safety software, Cority, for workplace and vehicle inspections, injury and illness reporting and risk assessments. This is also where employees complete their daily COVID-19 screening and log vaccination status, all from their mobile device. “Employees can complete regular tasks without filling out forms or contacting someone in HR. The tools are there whenever they need them,” Ennis says.
And, at the onset of the pandemic, Hydro Ottawa transitioned to Google Workspace, enabling employees to stay connected and collaborate whether they are in the field, in the office or working from home. The self-serve mobile approach also extends to employee learning and development. Hydro Ottawa implemented a library of e-learning courses, videos and e-books, which employees can access whenever and wherever they need — taking training out of the classroom and putting it into employees’ hands.
“There is change and disruption coming from every direction,” Burnett Vachon says. “Our workforce and our technology have to evolve so that we have a future-ready team comfortable working in a digital world. For those who grew up in this environment, it’s about meeting their expectations, and for folks who didn’t, it’s persuading them and upskilling them to embrace continuous change.”
To Ennis, “it’s all about giving employees the tools to be more efficient so they can focus on what they need to do for customers.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2022):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 19, 2022)
Here are some of the reasons why Hydro Ottawa was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2022):
- Hydro Ottawa’s annual Go Paperless campaign in partnership with CHEO encourages customers to opt for e-billing or automated payments, donating $5 to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) for every customer that registers -- since the partnership with CHEO began in 2015, the utility has raised nearly half-a-million dollars for the hospital
- Hydro Ottawa's food service operations use a four-stream waste collection system that includes a unique onsite dehydration of organic materials for compost, as well as using sustainable takeout food packaging that is biodegradable or compostable
- Hydro Ottawa continues to expand its hydroelectric capacity as well as invest in alternative energy for the future, partnering with the City of Ottawa to install solar panels on eight municipal buildings (with plans for additional installations) and the expansion of hydroelectric facilities in Québec and New York -- and has become the largest municipally owned producer of green power in Ontario
Hydro Ottawa powers up environmental benefits
In 2019, Hydro Ottawa began construction on one of its largest municipal transformer stations, situated on 24 acres of land. The station only required five acres of the property, so Hydro Ottawa partnered with the City of Ottawa, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and Canadian Wildlife Federation to create a 15-acre pollinator meadow to support pollinators, like Monarch butterflies and bees, which are in decline due to pesticides, climate change and a lack of pollinator habitats.
While planning this project, a Hydro Ottawa employee, who is a beekeeper in his spare time, volunteered as lead caretaker of an outdoor space for honey-bee hives at one of its facilities near the pollinator meadow. These seven hives supply the city with more pollinators and produce a lot of honey. Some of this honey is auctioned as part of Hydro Ottawa’s annual United Way campaign.
“It is very holistic,” says Lyne Parent-Garvey, chief human resources officer. “These projects tie in the environment, our community focus and the well-being of our employees. They are all connected to each other and to our ESG [environmental, social and governance] goals and our strategic direction.”
Environmental sustainability is a large part of the organization’s strategic direction. Hydro Ottawa, which delivers electricity to more than 346,000 homes and businesses in Ottawa and the village of Casselman, developed its first five-year roadmap for reducing its impact on the environment in 2009. The organization is now working on its third five-year road-map and has publicly committed to net-zero operations by 2030.
“We realized a long time ago that since we are in the business of working with customers to help them reduce their energy consumption, we had to look at reducing our own impact on the environment,” Parent-Garvey says.
In 2019, Hydro Ottawa moved into two new operations centres and a new main office. All of the facilities are designed and built to LEED Gold standards, a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership in healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings.
The facilities’ features include solar energy generation, which offsets about 18 per cent of the energy demand at its East Campus and 100 per cent at its South Campus; a four-stream waste collection system that consistently diverts more than 90 per cent of waste from landfill; a rooftop rainwater recovery system that reduces water consumption by more than 1.6 million litres per year; and water bottle filling stations, the use of which eliminated the equivalent of 104,000 plastic water bottles in 2019.
It is initiatives like these that led Hydro Ottawa to earn the Sustainable Electricity CompanyTM designation from the Canadian Electricity Association. The designation is based on 10 criteria related to ESG principles. Three focus specifically on the environment: environmental stewardship; climate change mitigation and adaptation; and electricity demand, efficiency and conservation; while the remainder address other key organizational sustainability factors, such as employee and public health and safety; stakeholder engagement and transparency; and economic value and community investments.
“While three of the criteria specifically focus on the environment, all of the criteria interrelates and speak to good corporate citizenship,” says Bruce Lang, director, health, safety and environment. “The key to our success is that we never forget that how our employees, our customers, our shareholders and our regulator feel about how we operate matters a great deal.
“Good corporate citizenship is fundamental to our ongoing sustainability and to our ability to safely and effectively provide power to the nation’s capital, help other businesses generate their own green power, protect the environment and support our community.”