December 8, 2020Electricity Sector’s Resilience a Result of Safety-First Culture

Ottawa, ON, December 8, 2020 — The newest report from Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC) and the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) provides a detailed look into the experiences of the electricity sector through the COVID-19 pandemic. Powering Through Together: Electricity Leadership on Navigating the Pandemic finds that the sector’s strong culture of prioritizing worker safety has been a critical component in its pandemic response.

The report is the culmination of 48 in-depth surveys and interviews with upper management and executive-level respondents at large and small utilities and companies across Canada. The report assesses working conditions during the pandemic, highlights areas of ongoing concern and provides recommendations for moving forward as the sector operates under “new normal” circumstances.

As an essential service underpinning much of Canada’s economy, the sector is well-versed in emergency planning for extreme weather and other scenarios. While no one could have anticipated the reality of living and working under a global pandemic, most respondents indicated that they were able to maintain operations with relatively little disruption by quickly adapting existing business continuity plans.

Collaboration has been an essential element of the resiliency of the sector. By working closely with other utilities, associations and government groups, electricity employers have been able to develop new policies and practices with unprecedented speed. Many remarked that they acted, and continue to act, in advance of health authority and government directives.

Among the trends identified by the report was the observation that overall, the pivot to remote work took place more quickly and smoothly than most had imagined was possible. Some companies are considering long-term hybrid arrangements once a vaccine is available and restrictions are relaxed.

“The electricity sector has a long history of being collaborative and supporting each other through challenges and disasters,” says Francis Bradley, CEO of CEA. “This research tells us that while this sector isn’t immune to the wellbeing, logistic, and economic challenges of this pandemic, our electricity companies have the right approach to ensure continuity. It’s a testament to the capability of our electricity sector that we haven’t had any major disruptions to the power grid. We’ve kept the lights on so hospitals and researchers can do their work, and Canadians can rest assured that their electricity is one thing they won’t lose in these challenging times

The importance of timely, factual and ongoing communication with staff cannot be overstated. Messaging focused on building and maintaining supportive team cultures, with an emphasis on individual connection and team building. Mental health was an often-cited concern and employers addressed this with regular communication about safety protocols, health supports and other benefits available to their teams.

“What we’ve heard across the sector has been really encouraging.” Michelle Branigan, CEO of EHRC, says the report is optimistic. “Senior leaders have shared that they’ve seen their teams step up to support one another professionally and on a personal level. A lot more emphasis has been placed on employee mental health and wellbeing. This report is bringing us back to the foundations: clear, open communication and a culture of putting safety first are what will get us through the challenges of the pandemic while keeping our workforce resilient.”

Powering Through Together: Electricity Leadership on Navigating the Pandemic is available to download for free at electricityhr.ca/resources/powering-through-together

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About Electricity Human Resources Canada

Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC) is Canada’s most trusted source for objective human resource and market information, with the tools to guide business planning and development for the Canadian electricity industry. We provide a platform for current industry needs, identify ways to make Canadian businesses “best in class,” and forecast industry trends and issues. Our work enables the industry to map workforce supply to demand and to foster growth and innovation in employers and employees. This improves the quality of service industry provides and improves the confidence Canadians have in the industry.

Further information on EHRC is available at electricityhr.ca.

Contact

Alex Hosselet
Manager, Communications and Marketing
613-235-5540 ext. 239
hosselet@electricityhr.ca

About the Canadian Electricity Association

Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) members generate, transmit and distribute electrical energy to industrial, commercial, residential and institutional customers across Canada every day. From vertically integrated electric utilities, independent power producers, transmission and distribution companies, to power marketers, to the manufacturers and suppliers of materials, technology and services that keep the industry running smoothly—all are represented by this national industry association.

Further information on CEA is available at electricity.ca.

Contact

Julia Muggeridge
Vice President, Communications and Marketing
Phone Number: 613-719-9323
muggeridge@electricity.ca