Seasonal Work, Year-Round Wellness
Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing (STHS) has been a leader in providing helicopter skiing services in Revelstoke, BC since 1978. Colette Poirier, Administrative Coordinator with STHS shared their favorite workplace wellness activities and how they have overcome the challenge of engaging over 70 seasonal staff.
1. What has been your favourite workplace wellness initiative that Selkirk and Tangiers has done?
The Bike to Work Week Challenge has been our favorite! Team Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing has participated in the Bike to Work Week Challenge organized by GoByBike BC every May for the past few years. Despite being a small team with only 7 staff in the office year-round, we have full confidence competing with larger workplace teams. Our office is on top of a huge hill just outside of Revelstoke, most of us do not have a short commute to work and are challenged by complex terrains and long, steep hills. It can take some people 45 minutes to bike to work. To encourage employees to bike to work more often, our General Manager provides us with flexible start times and everyone gets to keep their normal shift time. For example, if I was dropping my children off at school for 7:50am and I usually start work at 8:00am, I can still ride my bike to work and shower without being considered late. With this great flexibility, many of us use biking as a method of getting to work once the snow disappears.
2. Selkirk Tangiers promotes and fosters a friendly working environment where staff work together to create an unforgettable guest experience. How do your organizational values support workplace health and wellness?
Throughout the 40 plus years of our history, our organizational values guide us to put the safety of our guests, employees and contractors as the first priority in our operation. Every team member at Selkirk Tangiers shares the love, compassion and enthusiasm for skiing and exploring the surrounding wilderness. The principle of workplace safety is executed from the beginning of our hiring processes, as we only hire guides who are certified by the highest industry standards, the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and/or International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations. Our internal training plays an important role in mentoring our younger guides to grow and learn about all the safety aspects of heli skiing.
Our General Manager is also a ski guide and understands the importance of supporting workplace wellness with the same ambition as supporting staff in training. To engage our seasonal staffs (up to 70 people), we also developed activities that focus on team bonding and equipping our staffs with optimal mental health capacity in workplace training.
Our off season team activities include rafting, mountain biking, group yoga classes and many more fun events. Occasionally we pack our lunch and gather on a beach, or hike around the local trails.
In terms of mental health support, we utilize resources from the Canadian Mental Health Association. We also work with the youth mental health coordinator from our community, and coaches from safeTALK to focus on stress and suicide prevention topics. Beyond that, we incorporate critical incident stress debriefing and how to avoid burnout workshops in all our staff training’s.
3. What challenges have you faced in implementing workplace health and wellness?
- Being part a larger corporation has its challenges as our business model is quite unique. We have had to identify the uniqueness in our operations and customize our wellness programs to suit the needs of our employees. We can’t just blend into a corporate norm. We recognize there is no one size fits all!
- Seasonality is a huge part of our operations as we are constantly recruiting new staff, providing training, and laying off staffs all within a 4-month cycle. To conquer the challenge of staff retention, we have developed a flexible and attractive wellness program and policies. For example, we have wellness days that is essentially a sick day but does not require a doctor’s note. We have found that people are genuine when it comes to using these wellness days, along with other unique benefits these tactics have helped to alleviate some of the challenges we are faced with in regards to recruitment.
4. If a CEO walked up to you asking for your advice on implementing workplace wellness into their organization and you only had a few minutes to give ’em your best tip, what would it be?
By investing in a workplace wellness program, you are directly investing in your employees. You will see a very valuable return!