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BC Hydro employees worried about losing ground amid inflation, high housing costs

An engagement survey issued last year by the Crown corporation elicited approximately 7,500 comments, including more than 1,300 about compensation and benefits, according to a briefing note obtained under freedom of information.
worried woman
BC Hydro employees noted several concerns related to keeping up with inflation.

Hiring, promotion and pay were among the major concerns of BC Hydro employees who responded to a staff survey last year. 

A briefing note to the March 29 meeting of senior executives, obtained under freedom of information, said the 2021 employee engagement survey elicited approximately 7,500 comments, including more than 1,300 about compensation and benefits.

Among the lowest scoring questions on the survey, at 57%, was one asking whether total compensation, benefits and pension were fair for the work performed. 

“Employees predominantly noted concerns related to keeping up with inflation, housing market and what other employers are offering,” said the briefing note’s analysis. 

There were 760 negative comments logged, of which 300 were related to higher compensation and the salary freeze for management and professional employees. 

Fair hiring was the top concern of employees who self-identify as a visible minority. 

“Comments and suggestions were related to preference for selections to be based on qualifications and performance, not solely on interview scores,” said the briefing note. 

Management and professional employees, members of the MoveUP union, workers with 11-20 years of service and visible minorities were concerned about transparency in promotion.  

“Comments were related to limited opportunities for promotions, and unclear promotion criteria and process. Performance and pay were the second most common concern. This was a concern for employees who are 35 to 54 years of age, and employees who self-identified as a visible minority.”

Employees also complained about work piling up due to supply chain application systems taking more time. Support and training lagged due to the pandemic and unexpected leaves for key procurement personnel. 

“Comments about contractors and consultants were copious, specifically about the usage and performance of contractors and consultants.”

There were also numerous complains about the Hydroweb internal system. “Specific suggestions included a better search engine that would return more relevant results. Broken links and outdated information were also mentioned.”

The survey analysis said the Hydroweb team within the communications department is “small and doesn't have the resources to manage search as a platform-wide improvement,” but there would be initiatives aimed at spurring groups responsible for the pages to improve outdated content and poor search results.

Meanwhile, under the heading of flexible work model, employees wanted to continue full-time work from home beyond the pandemic. 

“There were significantly more positive comments than negative comments. Top positive sentiments were related to flexibility and ability to work from home, as well as work-life balance. Most common negative sentiments were related to the desire for more flexibility in terms of days in office, work hours, location, and working from home permanently.”

The inclusion and diversity portion of the survey found men were significantly less-favourable than women to the questions about expressing opinions (9% differential), recommending BC Hydro as a great place to work (8% differential), and seeing positive changes in the last six months (10% differential). 

The small sample of non-binary employees found favourable scores “frequently 20 percentage points lower than other genders,” especially to questions about whether managers create an atmosphere of trust and respect. 

Indigenous employees felt more comfortable than non-Indigenous employees in speaking up and were confident they could talk to someone about disrespectful behaviour. Employees with disabilities had lower favourable responses than both BC Hydro overall and employees without disabilities across all the questions.