For more than 60 years, Purolator has grown to become one of Canada’s leading express package delivery company. The company’s particular strength lies not only its size and urban reach, but in their development of the most extensive rural delivery route for any Canadian courier company. The result is a company that strives to ensure that it is a vital and contributing member of the thousands of communities it now calls home.
Part of that community engagement was a commitment by Purolator to begin building community partnerships to help the company become a more inclusive and diverse employer, mirroring the make-up of the many Canadian communities it serves. One such partnership began with Ready Willing and Able (RWA) in 2017, when Purolator signed on as a national employer partner. Through its efforts with RWA, Purolator has hired more than 40 new team members across the country.
An early champion of the RWA partnership was Ellen Magoon Senior HR Business Partner (HR Manager) for Alberta. Ellen supports a team of 1200 employees in 12 depots throughout the province, centred in Edmonton and Calgary. Ellen first heard about the partnership through corporate channels, as the first regional hires rolled out in BC in 2017. When RWA’s local team member connected with her in Calgary, a great partnership was born. As Ellen recalls, “The offer was made and we leapt at the opportunity. There was zero hesitation on the part of our management team to engage with RWA and make this work.”
Since 2017, Purolator in Alberta has hired 18 persons at its Calgary and Edmonton locations. The majority of the employees hired through RWA work in warehouse sorter positions, with others working in the retail front offices. Employees are split between AM and PM shifts and contribute to many different aspects of Purolator’s Alberta operations.
When asked if anything stood out about the employees hired through RWA, Ellen was quick to answer: “Of the 18 people we’ve hired 15 are still working with us. That turnover rate is exceptionally low. Additionally, we find these employees are always timely and committed and that level of consistency is an asset for any organization.”
Ellen was also quick to note that employees hired through RWA have shown the ability to be able to excel within Purolator and move up through the company ranks. Ellen remarked, “RWA has given us the ability to work with individuals who have shown the leadership skillsets to be able to move them along into other roles. For example, one RWA candidate is being moved into a workplace trainer position this coming year. They will complete Purolator’s Train the Trainer courses and will then assist us as a trainer on the warehouse floor. Our employees hired with RWA also enjoy full union rights, and so have the opportunity to bid on courier routes as well.”
The impact of inclusive hiring has also benefited Purolator well beyond the level of individual employee output. Ellen noted, “RWA supported us as a company by giving us some incredible management training about working with persons with an intellectual disability or Autism. These sessions were not only attended by managers, but as well by lead hands and shop stewards, many of whom spoke to having family members with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder. This support not only helped us make RWA employees feel welcome and safe, but we were able to see why some of our preconceived notions and stigmas were unfair.”
When asked about challenges Ellen responded, “There were some occasional day to day challenges around communication or environment (noise being a triggering factor for some), but we’ve worked with the individuals and their job coaches to meet those challenges. The challenges ultimately are no different than those we experience with any employee, and they are dealt with as we would deal with any employee. The standards and expectations remain the same, and with the help of RWA and its agency partners we are able to provide the best kind of support that we can.”
Overall working with RWA has become an integral part of Purolator’s business model in Alberta, that has not only garnered the company some of their best employees but contributed in a positive sense to the overall work culture. Ellen was keen to point out that, “It (the RWA partnership) shows everyone that an organization as large as Purolator is not only willing to interview and recruit individuals with a disability, but that they can have successful careers here. It’s given many of our other employees the opportunity to step into mentorship roles and has given us as a management team the motivation to employ more inclusively in other areas as well. RWA has opened the doors to new partnerships and allowed us to tap into a whole new talent pool of jobseekers we wouldn’t have otherwise pursued.”