Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries employees during an Oktoberfest-themed luncheon
Chosen as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers and Alberta's Top Employers for 2013:
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors
(Oct 9, 2012)
Some of the reasons why Al-Pac
was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2013
- as part of the company's health plan, each employee receives an annual $3,800 taxable lifestyle contribution that can be used towards alternative health coverages or even to purchase additional vacation time
- an industry leader that offers employees who are new mothers maternity leave top-up payments (to 100% for 18 weeks)
- lets all employees share in the company's success with a profit-sharing plan and generous referral bonuses for employees who refer a candidate that is successfully hired by the company
- new employees can also take advantage of an interest free home loan (to $25,000) when moving to the region
- head office features unique onsite amenities including baseball diamonds, golf driving range, beach volleyball court, horseshoe pitch, walking trails and a 40-acre stocked trout pond, fully-equipped fitness facility with free memberships, and employee lounge with outdoor patio and picnic tables
- encourages ongoing employee development through generous subsidies for tuition and professional accreditation, in-house and online training programs, financial bonuses for some course completion and in-house apprenticeship and skilled trades programs
- also manages an academic scholarship program for children of employees who attend post-secondary institutions
- offers new employees up to four weeks paid vacation, with the option to take the fourth week as time-off or as additional income -- and also maintains a flexible personal time off program with employees averaging 12 personal days off each year
Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. (Al-Pac) is a producer of kraft pulp used in the manufacturing of a variety of paper products
The company's pulp products are used around the world in the manufacture of writing and printing grade papers, commercial printing papers, glossy photograph and specialty papers, corrugated paper products, and hygienic tissue papers. Established in 1993, Al-Pac is located in the Athabasca-Lac La Biche region approximately 200 kilometres north of Edmonton. Operating within a 5.8 million hectare forest management area in northeastern Alberta, the company operates one of the most modern bleached kraft pulp mills in North America. Al-Pac is jointly owned by Japan-based Mitsubishi Corporation (70%) and Oji Paper Co. Ltd. (30%).
Industry: Pulp Mills.
Major Canadian hiring locations: Athabasca AB, Boyle AB, Lac La Biche AB.
Revenues: $397 million.
Parent company: Mitsubishi Corporation and Oji Paper Co. Ltd..
Full-time employees in Canada: 450.
New jobs created in Canada last year: 24.
Part-time employees in Canada: 9.
Workforce engaged on a contract basis: 10%.
Number of applications received at this location last year: 590.
Average age of all employees: 43.
Longest serving employee: 23 years.
Al-Pac's physical workplace is rated as exceptional. Located north-east of Edmonton, ALPAC's unique location offers a variety of recreational amenities for employees, including onsite baseball diamonds, a golf driving range, a beach volleyball court, a horseshoe pitch, walking trails and a 40-acre stocked trout pond. In a unique demonstration of its advanced waste water treatment facilities, the company's reception area houses a large aquarium that is filled with treated wastewater and stocked with native fish from the river. In addition to its outdoor recreational facilities the head office also features a variety of indoor amenities, including an) onsite fitness facility (with free membership, treadmills, stationary bikes, stairmasters, rowing machines, weights and shower facilities); employee lounge (with comfortable seating, music, television and outdoor patio with picnic tables and chairs), free coffee and tea; free snacks and meals to mark special occassions; free parking.
Work Atmosphere & Communications
Al-Pac's work atmosphere is rated as exceptional. Throughout the year, employees at ALPAC enjoy business casual dress; casual dress daily; can listen to music while working; can bring pets to work when needed; employee sports teams; organized social events. The company's social committee (called the Collectively Yours Social Club) has been operating since 1993 and organizes a variety of fun events every year, including a family day picnic with children's fishing derby, beach volleyball games during the summer months, a charitable golf tournament, an annual Christmas party (a separate holiday party for employees' children), annual long-service awards dinner, a corn roast and car-show event; and a pre-shutdown breakfast and post-shutdown barbeque. ALPAC captures employee feedback and keeps employees up-to-date through a company newsletter; corporate intranet site; traditional suggestion box.
Financial Benefits & Compensation
Al-Pac's financial benefits are rated as exceptional. To keep salaries competitive the company participates in outside salary surveys every 12 months. Individual salaries are reviewed every 12 months. The company also provides signing bonuses for some employees; generous year-end bonuses (to $18,000), depending on the position; year-end bonuses for some employees; defined contribution pension plan with employer contributions (up to 7% of salary); matching RSP contributions (up to 3% of salary); new employee referral bonuses (to $5,000 for some positions); life & disability insurance; retirement planning assistance; phased-in retirement work options; profit-sharing plan for all employees (that paid over $4,900 per employee last year); interest free home loans (to $25,000) for new employees relocating to region; discounted company products; lifestyle account (to $3,800 each year taxable income) as part of the company's health benefits plan that can be used for additional benefits, taken as income or used to purchase additional time off.
Health & Family-Friendly Benefits
Al-Pac's health and family benefits are rated as very good. The company's health benefits plan is managed by Great West Life. As part of the health plan, the employer pays 100% of the premiums. The health plan is a flexible plan with adjustable premiums and coverage levels. Employees who work 20 hours per week receive coverage. There is no waiting period before coverage begins. Family coverage is available on the health benefits plan. The basic plan includes routine dental; restorative dental; orthodontics; eyecare ($375 every 2 years); traditional medicine coverage; alternative medicine coverage; fertility treatment medications; employee assistance (EAP) plan; medical equipment and supplies; physiotherapy; homecare; travel insurance. As part of the company's health plan, each employee receives an annual $3800 taxable lifestyle contribution that can be used towards non-insured health coverages and or even to purchase additional vacation time. Employees also receive a $300 non-taxable health spending contribution (which can be carried forward to a maximum of $4,100) that can be used towards non-insured health coverages. As part of this benefit, unused funds are paid directly to each employee at the end of the year as taxable income or can be transferred to the non-taxable health spending account (up to the maximum of $4,100 in any given year). The company's family friendly benefits include: maternity top-up payments (to 100% of salary for 18 weeks); extended unpaid parental leave option (beyond the first year). Additional family friendly benefits include: post-secondary academic scholarships for children of employees; flexible working hours; shortened work week (fewer hours with less pay); compressed work week; telecommuting; reduced summer hours program; job-sharing. (The duration of compassionate top-up payments are determined on a case-by-case basis.).
Vacation & Personal Time-Off
Al-Pac's vacation and personal time-off are rated as exceptional. New employees receive 4 weeks of vacation allowance after their first year. Vacation increases after 10 years on the job. Long-serving employees receive a maximum of 7.5 weeks of vacation each year. Employees can schedule 12 personal days off each year, as needed. Employees can also apply for an unpaid leave of absence. As part of the company's enlightened vacation policy, new employees receive 3 weeks paid vacation plus an additional week that they are free to choose as additional paid time-off or receive as additional income. The company also maintains a flexible personal paid-days off program the lets employees take time off for family events, emergencies, personal appointments or even a round of golf. The policy is designed to be flexible with employees averaging approximately 12 extra days off each year. Alberta-Pacific also recently introduced a compressed (7am to 5pm) and four-day work week schedule, offering three day weekends every week.
Al-Pac's employee engagement program is rated as above-average. Employees receive individual performance reviews every 12 months. Managers receive training in how to conduct effective performance reviews. As part of the review process employees can provide confidential feedback on their manager's performance. Exit interviews are provided for departing employees. ALPAC's performance management process is based on a team management model. Individual performance is reviewed jointly in the context of each work group's performance. Every month, work groups meet to discuss group and individual employee performance and work together to address any performance issues that may arise. Excellent (and safety) performance is recognized with tickets to sporting and entertainment events, company-paid social events and company merchandise. At the company's Christmas social, the company hosts a unique raffle with three lucky employees winning an additional paid week off. Every year, ALPAC also honours its long serving employees after 10 years on-the-job (and every 5th year thereafter) at an annual celebration dinner. Al-Pac sponsors its own in-house employee satisfaction survey. (Surveys are conducted every 24 months).
Training & Skills Development
Al-Pac's training and skills development program is rated as exceptional. Employees receive tuition subsidies for courses related to their position. (Employer covers up to 100% of tuition). Employees may also receive tuition subsidies for courses unrelated to their current position. (Employer covers up to 100% of non-related tuition). In addition to tuition subsidies, ALPAC offers subsidies for professional accreditations; in-house apprenticeship and skilled trades programs; financial bonuses for course completions; in-house training programs; online training programs; online employee skills inventory; new employee orientation program; formal management training program. Financial bonuses for the completion of certain accreditations (from $1,500 to $10,000).
Al-Pac's community involvement program is rated as above-average. A good corporate citizen, ALPAC supports a variety of local charitable initiatives. Employees take part in the selection of charitable groups assisted each year. Employees receive paid time off to volunteer with their favourite charitable organizations. Last year, employees donated over 10,000 hours volunteering with charitable projects. Approximately 75 charitable and community organizations were supported last year. As part of the company charitable program, ALPAC lets employees volunteer on company-paid time for various charitable initiatives and provides special donations (to $250) in support of those organizations where employees volunteer. Employees can also present their charitable donation requests for consideration by the an in-house donations team and a Community Relations Coordinator -- support is directed to community affairs, health, social services and local sports initiatives around the community.
As part of an ongoing commitment to address its own environmental footprint, the company works closely with conservation groups, local communities and Aboriginal organizations to establish sustainable forest and ecosystem management practices. Most recently, the company invested $65 million in a green power project that uses hog fuel and black liquor (two renewable by-products from the manufacture of chips and kraft pulp) that are used as fuel to power a custom 32MWh steam turbo-generator, generating over 100,000 MWh of power and reducing CO2 emmissions by up to 45,500 tonnes over the use of coal or natural gas. Through this system, the company is now selling power back into Alberta's power grid. 1.25.
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