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Oct 25, 2016

Wellness 2016: PowerStream

By COS staff
PowerStream is about to undergo significant growth as it is merging with Enersource, Hydro One Brampton Networks and Horizon Utilities. That’s why it’s so important to attract and retain an excellent team — and to take care of their well-being, mental and physical, says Henry Winter, director of human resources and health and safety at PowerStream in Vaughan, Ont.

“One of the things that I think makes us unique from a wellness perspective is the company has a corporate vision to be socially responsible. And as part of that, the safety, wellness, health of our employees is actually sincerely driven by senior leadership,” says Winter.

The community-owned energy company provides power and related services to a population of more than one million immediately north of Toronto and in central Ontario, and currently has 550 employees.

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PowerStream’s wellness initiatives have really grown over time, says Daniella Cogliano, human resources officer. 

“We started off with small initiatives… to full-bodied health programs. And it is a really robust program now,” she says.  “We hold initiatives on fundamentals like fitness and nutrition, but we’ve really expanded in the past few years into the areas and growing topics such as mental well-being and mental health, and a lot around resiliency — meaningful initiatives beyond just the fitness and nutrition.” 

PowerStream has a solid employee assistance program, but it made sure it was delivered as an employee and family assistance program (EFAP), says Winter, because involving employees’ families is important to the organization.  

PowerStream also tries to tie-in big initiatives to include employees’ families, says Cogliano. For instance, the eight-week challenge it did around a health and nutrition initiative was opened up to employees’ families as well.  

“They’re taking it home with them at the same time,” she says. “So tying that in gives you a better buy-in — and if you’re healthier, you’re going to benefit your family as well, and hopefully interest them in doing the same thing.” 

PowerStream has also partnered with its EFAP provider to make online programs available, such as a stress management program. The provider also offers video counselling in real-time and mobile apps that go hand-in-hand with the overall EFAP program. 

Another key piece of the puzzle is the overwhelming support from leadership, who is very involved in the wellness program. 

“It is lived and breathed throughout our executives and senior leadership teams,” says Winter. “They don’t just talk about it. There’s a lot of companies that say, ‘We have this,’ but they actually participate.” 

When designing wellness initiatives, a key consideration is whether it is something that promotes a lifestyle and behavioural change, says Cogliano.  

“If it’s not going to be a behavioural change, if you’re not going to understand why you’re doing it and it’s not a lifestyle change… it’s not going to be effective,” she says.  

 That’s why PowerStream decided to design all the wellness initiatives from a very holistic point of view.  

“Having that holistic, well-rounded approach, you’re appealing to the person as a whole,” says Cogliano.