Many businesses reacted quickly in the wake of the global health crisis to create work-from-home policies, stricter health and safety protocols and preserve cash. But while businesses grapple with significant uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, one fact remains true: businesses must put employees first.
Businesses have a chance to double down on commitments to their people through programming that allows for opportunity, inclusion and development. These initiatives go a long way with employees and even further to create an overall culture where everyone benefits.
Schneider Electric, a global leader in energy management and automation with a strong presence in Canada, is committed to creating and maintaining a company of the future through its Employee Value Proposition, which is a promise to provide an inclusive, empowering and meaningful work environment. It’s dedicated to keeping this culture alive, especially as the way we work changes rapidly.
“It’s our commitment to current and future employees; the reason why people join, stay and remain engaged,” says Thierry Miras, Schneider Electric Canada’s vice-president of human resources.
The company’s purpose is reinforced through internal and external programs that invest in research and development, attract talent and develop innovative solutions.
An example is its global ‘Go Green in the City’ competition, which brings students from more than 3,000 universities and some 160 countries, including Canada, to work together on “bold ideas.”
Kanika Kapila, a recent chemical engineering graduate at the University of Calgary, became a 2018 Go Green global finalist and is now part of the company’s rotational Commercial Leadership Program, which is designed to give new engineering graduates three years of training and experience in three fields of business before selecting an area to focus on and build a career.
Schneider Electric also has partnerships with universities across Canada to support women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and other significant education programs like the Schneider Electric Smart Grid Laboratory at Ryerson University in Toronto.
The state-of-the-art facility enables researchers, utility engineers, organizations and students to work cooperatively to develop, test and demonstrate ideas and products in fields such as renewables, smart grids and energy storage.
“It’s a very flexible and powerful space to work together,” says Bala Venkatesh, founding academic director and head of the Centre for Urban Energy at Ryerson University. He describes it as a “dream come true” for students to develop meaningful solutions “that make sense for society at large” and “where there’s a pressing need.”
Schneider Electric is also continuously evolving its inclusive practices, policies and behaviours to ensure that it addresses the needs of various groups, including a mix of genders, generations, abilities and backgrounds as well as LGBTQ employees. This approach gives Schneider Electric Canada a competitive advantage and has helped it earn recognition as a top employer for everything from employee training to its green initiatives.
Despite the work done to date, Mr. Miras acknowledges the company is always looking to do more, especially as the workplace environment evolves amid the pandemic.
“In March, we were immediately focused on the health, safety and well-being of our people,” Mr. Miras says. “This included strict safety measures to protect employees, work-from-home policy, virtual learning sessions and live talks, enhancement of our existing benefits standards such as paid care leave, self-quarantine paid leave and virtual care assistance, to name a few.”
As the company prepares to transition into a “new normal,” one that may include more remote working, Mr. Miras says it’s thinking critically about how to maintain a strong culture that is felt by everyone – from employees to customers.
“Digital solutions have always been a part of our organization and our solutions but they’ve been especially helpful in reinforcing our culture, keeping people motivated in their work, and creating better and more tailored experiences for our customers,” he says.
No matter what the future holds, Schneider Electric is steadfast in their commitment to people — and that direction has helped bring stability in times of uncertainty. “We practice and provide sustainability,” Mr. Miras says. “We really want — as a company and as people — to be involved in making the world better.”