Recognized as one of Saskatchewan's Top Employers (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 13, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why SaskTel was selected as one of Saskatchewan's Top Employers (2023):
- Varying by position, SaskTel's formal Telework Program lets office based employees work from home for up to three days each week while retaining dedicated office space and parking at the head office -- the organization is also planning office renovations to incorporate new flexible work strategies
- SaskTel helps employees plan for life after work through retirement planning assistance services, contributions to a defined-contribution pension plan and phased-in work options when employees are nearing retirement -- they are also offered the chance to continue their involvement with the SaskTel Pioneers club so they can stay connected with other alumni and their community
- SaskTel considers previous work experience when setting starting vacation entitlement for experienced new candidates, starting new employees with a minimum of three weeks paid vacation and offering paid personal days to help employees balance their work and personal lives
SaskTel cares for its employees and communities alike
John McMurdo loved being recognized when he went to the grocery store during his time as a sales specialist at a SaskTel corporate store.
“I’d usually bump into three or four people who would ask me questions and chat with me. Being the face of SaskTel and helping our customers was something that I found immense value in,” says McMurdo, manager of consumer sales and solutions. “I felt quite a lot of pride in being part of SaskTel.”
McMurdo takes this attitude beyond customer service. He is on the SaskTel EnviroCare committee, which coordinates donation drives and volunteers to help preserve and protect natural spaces. This has included recycling cans and bottles and using the money raised to adopt five burrowing owls from the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre. EnviroCare plans annual greening initiatives, and volunteering to help to connect the Trans Canada Trail through Saskatchewan was one of McMurdo’s favourites.
Another SaskTel community initiative is its network of volunteers, the SaskTel Pioneers, of which McMurdo is a chapter president. One of his favourite initiatives was the 10-year celebration of the Yorkton Pioneer Park, where they transformed an empty space in between buildings into a park. Pioneers also regularly volunteer with Meals on Wheels and have a partnership with First Book Canada to get hundreds of books into children’s homes each year.
SaskTel has also been running TelCare since 1950. More than 600 SaskTel employees contribute to the SaskTel TelCare fund through payroll deductions and SaskTel makes an additional donation of 50 cents for every employee dollar donated.
“As an employee, to have that type of engagement that you can share across the province is an incredible opportunity,” McMurdo says. “Being part of an organization that is so connected to the community makes us stand out from the pack. Staff are more engaged with their communities and everyone in the community recognizes the effort. I think there's incredible value for the company and each employee.”
Doug Burnett, president and CEO, says SaskTel is dedicated to making Saskatchewan better by investing in activities that positively impact local communities.
“Our employees go above and beyond to give back to the communities where we live and work,” he says. “This is apparent in some of the most common actions you will see of our past and present employees, such as volunteering thousands of hours for various events or initiatives or by donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to causes near and dear to their heart.”
Burnett says that as important as helping the community is, supporting its own employees is also vital. “We truly believe our employees are our strength,” he says. “We understand how important a strong work-life balance is for the success of our people and our company. That is why we place an emphasis on making a variety of wellness initiatives, programs and learning opportunities available to our employees.”
These include the SaskTel Employees’ Personal Problem Program (STEPPP), which provides access to free, voluntary and confidential counselling services, and Helping Our Own People (HOOP), which supports employees going through extended illness or other health care by offsetting their financial burden.
In 2019, McMurdo was dealing with health issues and his son also needed surgery. “Knowing the company has STEPPP and programs like compassionate care leave shows me SaskTel truly cares about its employees. I could be there for my family,” McMurdo says. “SaskTel knows what matters to an employee. I think they really hit it out of the park. I am very happy to be working for a company that truly cares about their employees.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 23, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why SaskTel was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2023):
- Working with Prairie South School Division and the Information Communication Technology Council, SaskTel offers the Focus on Information Technology program to teach secondary students essential skills in four main areas of focus: business and information analysis, software design and development, network and operations support, and interactive media
- SaskTel created the YOUTHnetwork program, a comprehensive strategy to improve human resource issues and encourage young people, specifically underprivileged youth or Aboriginal groups, to pursue technology-based post-secondary education -- the program includes strategies in elementary schools, high schools and post-secondary schools with tailored initiatives for each group
- The SaskTel Opportunities, Networking, Events (SaskTel O.N.E.) employee resource group is focused on shaping new generations of SaskTel leaders through career, employee and community engagement -- the group aims to improve new employee experiences and provides various social activities and training opportunities throughout the year
SaskTel connects with students’ ingenuity and energy
As a student, Poojan Vyas signed on to a four-month co-op program with SaskTel before extending it to eight months. He then applied for, and landed, a fulltime position as a data analytics and development engineer.
“My co-op experience made me a better developer and a better analyst, which is why I wanted to come back to SaskTel,” Vyas says. “I knew there would be plenty of opportunities to learn and grow. And I knew that this would be really helpful to my career.
“During my co-op, I was assigned some really challenging projects that allowed me to work on things that I was comfortable with, but also develop new skills in areas where I was struggling,” he says. At the beginning, Vyas says he struggled with the concepts of computer networks. “I was a bit scared but through the support of my colleagues, I was quite confident at the end.”
This dedication to supporting young employees is an important commitment for SaskTel, says Shara McCormick, vice president, human resources and corporate services.
“At SaskTel, our people are our strength,” she says. “We believe that one of our greatest assets is the ingenuity and energy of our next generation workforce. Those students who currently sit in the classrooms of post-secondary institutions or high schools hold the key to the future of our organization, as well as our province.”
To support the engagement and development of students, the Crown-owned telecommunications company runs summer employment and co-op programs. Every year, SaskTel also awards several scholarships ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 to students attending post-secondary institutions in Saskatchewan who are studying in a field directly related to information and communications technology.
The organization also focuses on the continuous development of its employees. “Continuous learning is an integral part of SaskTel’s culture,” McCormick says. “SaskTel is committed to ensuring that all employees have access to core and professional development training that is aligned to the needs of the business and supports our employees’ growth and potential.”
These initiatives include an in-house Learning and Development team that develops in-person and virtual training on topics such as cybersecurity, technical training, Business Sales University and business intelligence. SaskTel’s Voluntary Out-of-Hour Educational Assistance Program (VOOHE) reimburses the tuition and course-related fees of approved out-of-hour education classes. In 2021-22, SaskTel approved more than 150 VOOHE applications.
The organization also provides online career resources, career workshops and an online development plan tool. Its affinity groups provide further opportunity for employees to be actively engaged in opportunities that aid in their growth. The SaskTel Opportunities, Networking, Events (SaskTel ONE) group is for employees who believe in the future of SaskTel, shaping the next generation of leaders through employee and community engagement.
The group holds events including lunch and learns, virtual trivia and video game nights. It hosted a lunch and learn with vice-president of business sales and solutions David Ekstrand, where employees could ask him questions about his career and get advice in a relaxed environment.
“I would tell any graduate looking for a co-op or full-time job that they will have plenty of opportunities to learn here. The people are really supportive and the work is also challenging,” Vyas says. “During the initial part of your career, you want to learn more and grow your skill set and that is the environment employees will get at SaskTel.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2023):
By Kristina Leung and Stephanie Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 6, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why SaskTel was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2023):
- SaskTel developed an Indigenous Engagement Strategy with goals and objectives that contribute to increased opportunities and building Indigenous relationships, supported through business and economic targets and participates in the Indigenous Engagement Committee, a community of signatories to the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce's Indigenous Engagement Charter
- SaskTel maintains a hiring strategy for persons with disabilities and conducts information sessions and pre-employment workshops with community partners -- additionally, the organization created the Supported Employment program for candidates with cognitive disabilities in partnership with community-based organizations and is a participant in the "4to40" program, which connects individuals with intellectual disabilities to employers who embrace a flexible four to 40-hour work week
- The organization is also committed to helping new Canadians succeed in the provincial labour market and actively works with organizations such as Regina Open Door Society and Saskatoon Open Door Society to provide employment readiness workshops and work placement opportunities
SaskTel seeks to provide safe spaces for all employees
Roberta Williams brags to her friends about the opportunities SaskTel gives her to raise awareness about Indigenous issues and to celebrate Indigenous culture.
Williams is president of the SaskTel Aboriginal Employees Network (SAEN), a network of Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees who act as ambassadors to educate and support employees of the telecom regarding the significance and diversity of Indigenous cultures.
SAEN recently held a Lunch and Learn featuring an Indigenous leader and educator who taught participants about the importance of acknowledging the land you are standing on when opening a meeting or event.
“I received feedback going as far up as some of our SaskTel directors that they have now created their own land acknowledgements and I was lucky enough to have them shared with me. This made me very happy,” says Williams, service representative, business sales and solutions.
Williams says that the network also provides members a safe space to share their experiences. “We all check our titles at the door and we can open up and feel secure,” she says. “I also appreciate that it has allowed me to get to know people outside of my department and to make connections.”
SAEN programs include a toy and winter clothing drive for students at local schools and a greeting card program, which invites Indigenous students from partner high schools to participate in an annual art contest. A selection of art is chosen and turned into greeting cards that are sold throughout the year with all profits going back to the school’s art programs. For National Indigenous Peoples Day, SAEN partners with several local companies to hold a celebration with dancers, singers and guest speakers at Victoria Park in Regina.
Beyond SAEN, SaskTel’s Indigenous Business Development team collaborates with communities to improve connectivity and innovation through initiatives like the Connected Community Program. This program provides internet access in community buildings, along with internal and external communication tools, to enhance health, social, education and economic opportunities. SaskTel continues to deliver improved coverage and more service options to First Nations communities in Saskatchewan.
The company recently hired an Indigenous engagement manager to focus on the advancement of its Indigenous engagement strategy while building trust and reinforcing relationships within Indigenous communities.
“SaskTel recognizes the important role we play in truth and reconciliation,” says Shara McCormick, vice-president, human resources and corporate services. “We will continue to look for ways to take responsible action as we move forward with a better understanding of the truth and impacts of the past with hope for the future.”
McCormick says SaskTel also recognizes that a place where all employees feel confident to express their cultural values and identity helps create a high-performing workforce. “We do this by providing employees access to tools and education to build their knowledge and understanding in diversity and inclusion, and the role we all share in building a more inclusive and welcoming workplace,” she says.
Employees participate in sports teams and volunteer groups and networks, such as the SaskTel Pioneers, EnviroCare, the SaskTel Employee Rainbow Alliance (SERA), SaskTel Employee Network on Disability (SEND) and SaskTel O.N.E. These networking groups provide a way for employees to connect, learn and grow while having fun in the community.
Says McCormick: “Creating a safe workplace environment, where individuals can openly share diverse ideas, improves engagement and fosters greater innovation across the entire organization.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 17, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why SaskTel was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2023):
- SaskTel has a longstanding partnership with Computers for School, which works to refurbish and donate computers to schools across the province (approximately 4,000 computers annually and over 70,000 computers since 1993) -- and the company has also donates used furniture for refurbishment and diversion from the landfill (approximately 5,000 kg of furniture and office equipment annually)
- SaskTel established an energy management committee back in 2017 that meets quarterly with goals to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and evaluate effective monitoring and management strategies for efficient energy use
- As part of its waste management program, SaskTel captures paper, batteries, e-waste, light bulbs, wire and cabling, office furniture and office equipment -- and through the Phones for a Fresh Start program, the company has captured over 130,000 cell phones and smartphones since 2009
SaskTel employees take pride in protecting their home
In 2022, SaskTel affirmed its commitment to environmental sustainability by adding it as a new area of focus when deciding which non-profit organizations its Community Investment Program (CIP) will support.
Since 2001, SaskTel has supported non-profit and charitable organizations that concentrate on areas including information and communications technology, women in non-traditional roles, persons with disabilities, visible minorities, youth, Indigenous people and rural communities. It has now added events and programs that feature environmental sustainability.
Greg Hern, human resources manager, environment, says it just makes sense to support environmental sustainability, whether through CIP or the many other ways SaskTel embeds a green mindset into its operations.
“It seems like it’s a requirement socially right now, but it’s more than that,” he says. “This is our home. This is where we live. We see ourselves as leaders in the environmental field in Saskatchewan. We are always paying attention and trying to do what we can with the resources we have.”
An example is SaskTel’s environmental management system (EMS). Aligned with ISO 14001, the international standard that specifies requirements for an effective EMS, SaskTel’s system is a group of interrelated policies and procedures that help the organization control its impact on the environment. SaskTel uses the EMS to monitor day-to-day operational processes, ensure alignment with legislative requirements and deliver on its environmental strategy.
“Through our EMS, we aim to reduce our environmental impact, the resources used and the waste generated,” says Shara McCormick, vice-president, human resources and corporate services. “We are focused on waste minimization, fuel and energy use efficiency, reducing overall direct greenhouse gas emissions, biosecurity and supporting employee-driven community greening initiatives through our EnviroCare team.”
SaskTel’s EnviroCare volunteer group works to create a greener community and promote environmental awareness. This includes hosting lunch-and-learns, co-ordinating donation drives and doing cleanups and plantings at local parks and greenspaces.
The SaskTel Phones for a Fresh Start program collects and recycles old cellphones and directs all the proceeds to buy and donate newer phones and prepaid phone cards to support those fleeing domestic violence and youth transitioning out of care from the Ministry of Social Services. In 2021-22, Phones for a Fresh Start provided 675 phones and $12,000 worth of phone cards. The program recycled 5,363 devices.
“People go through phones quite quickly now,” says Hern. “So we use the value of those devices through the recycling and refurbishment process to support an important cause and to help the environment.”
SaskTel has other e-waste recycling initiatives as well. The SaskTel Pioneers, a network of current and retired employee volunteers, refurbish used computers and donate them to schools. SaskTel also recycles or repurposes consumer electronic equipment and gadgets, as well as its own equipment, such as cable boxes and telecom servers.
Hern says all of these initiatives and the commitment to sustainability is a source of pride for employees. “We get a lot of input and questions from employees who are really passionate about protecting the environment,” he says. “We are proud of Saskatchewan and are very interested in protecting our home and doing what we can.”