Employee programs and practices
TransAlta has programs in place to attract, develop and retain employees.
New grad program
New graduates hired by TransAlta undergo two-year rotations that involve six months in a variety of positions. This fundamental program continued through the economic downturn of 2009, with 10 new graduates accepted. At any time, there are 20 to 30 new graduates in the company. In 2010, we are extending this program to summer and co-op students, who can enter the program after their terms with us.
TransAlta does not conduct employee engagement studies or surveys. We believe we should be aware of employee perceptions through ongoing dialogue. Engagement has improved in recent years, due in part to:
- the introduction on the employee intranet site of blogs written by Chief Operating Officer Dawn Farrell and Chief Financial Officer Brian Burden. Employees are invited to comment on and question what is posted
- employee group meetings at all locations with Dawn Farrell that outline company performance and progress and future plans. In 2009, approximately 1,500 employees attended these events. They will continue in 2010
- continuous improvements to the company intranet, to ensure employees understand their involvement in company success and to help build a sense of team
- local community and social events to bring people together, including a yearly talent contest at head office, Calgary Stampede celebrations and a yearly family day at Centralia
- the introduction of 360-degree feedback mechanisms for leaders
In 2009, TransAlta focused on creating development plans for employees. These plans ensure they are successful in their current roles and their careers. Development plans vary according to individual needs, and may include assignment to special projects, participation in new initiatives or formal training. The process ensures meaningful feedback is provided to the individuals involved, and will continue in 2010. TransAlta pays the tuition and book costs for employees who pursue work-related formal education.
Training programs are in place for operators and technicians at TransAlta plants to ensure a safe workplace, reduce environmental risk and provide opportunities for certification. In 2009, high staff turnover and increased project work delayed normal training. A training pool concept has been introduced to ensure training is on schedule. Staff is hired to provide relief for those scheduled for training. Formal mentors work on operations room floors to provide day-to-day coaching.
For several years, TransAlta has provided training to new managers. In 2009, a director-level program was introduced. All company directors participated in the program, which includes classroom sessions, training, experiential exercises and one-on-one coaching. Additionally, front-line leadership training was offered for supervisors and managers at all sites, providing a practical, hands-on introduction to leadership.
TransAlta has succession plans in place for leadership roles. Potential candidates are made aware of these plans, so that they are prepared and successful when positions become available.