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Oilers staff scores a winning program


The player shoots down the ice, puck gliding, stick slapping, skate blades slashing the white-blue surface – over the blue line, over the centre line...the crowd holds its collective breath ...  He shoots, he scores! The crowd roars, surging to its feet as one. Fellow players affectionately thump the scorer on his back, his head. ...The announcer yells: “and that wins the game for the Edmonton Oilers ...”

Hockey players and other prominent sports figures are used to being rewarded and recognized for their winning ways. But what about the folks behind the scenes who support the team – who sell the season tickets, coach the

stars, scout the future stars, track the financials, and administer the programs. Do they get any recognition?

Yes, they do – when they are one of the 130 or so staff members working behind the scenes at the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club.

The club had had a recognition program in place for some years, but a group of the senior staff formed a  committee to look at and revamp the program.

“We wanted to do something more,” says Tandy Kustiak, manager, human resources. “We weren’t saying  thank you’ big enough or loud enough. And we also wanted to do something to show our respect for the  families who put up with the long hours.”

The committee – composed of Tandy Kustiak, Darryl Boessenkool, VP finance and CFO, Stu MacDonald, VP  commercial operations, Sherry Smith, manager of administrative services, and Connie Hadden, executive  sssistant to the President/CEO – examined various options and unveiled the new loyalty and recognition  program in May 2008.

The new program recognizes non-consecutive years of career milestones and dedication to the Edmonton  oilers Hockey Club. The main features include:

  • The program is designed to capture the “Once an Oiler always an Oiler” mantra (i.e., playing time as an employee).
  • All non-consecutive years of contributions (therefore allows for breaks in service years) as an employee, player, coach, etc., in the system (includes all affiliated teams) are included. Rewards employees who leave and return with more experience/education/training.
  • Prior years of service with key partners (i.e., Ticket Master, Northlands, Aquila etc) upon becoming an  employee of the club also count. Award guidelines are as follows:

5 YEAR = $1,500
10 YEAR = $5,000
15 YEAR = $7,500
20 YEAR = $10,000
25 YEAR = $12,000

Gifting is personalized to each employee and offers either an “experience,” such as golf trip with guests to unique location, or a family vacation to destination of choice, etc. The team put together a number of trip suggestions which range from a Kelowna Weekend Wine Tour Getaway (in the $1,500 range) to a 14-day safari to Kiboko Lodge in Africa.

The program also includes other milestones and recognition opportunities, including:

Employment Anniversary Date Recognition – unique and personal cards are designed each year. Lead Team members sign each card with personal statement to the employee and a gift certificate placed inside.

On the Spot/Behaviour Recognition – gift certificates or other gifting (i.e., personalized ipods, books, etc.) are awarded for various recognized behaviours (working extra hours on a project, numerous positive customer comments, top season seat renewal numbers, clean audit, etc.).

Thank you/Celebrate Success Recognition/Events – year-end wrap up events (70’s Day, Staff to the Movies  day, golf days, Scavenger Hunt Day, etc.) geared to acknowledge hard work and dedication as well as foster team building.

Family Skate/Annual Staff Christmas Party – annual parties for employees/players and families to attend and enjoy.

Player/Staff Team Photo – each staff member receives as a unique year end thank-you gift.

The committee rolled out the program in June, at a fun night of horse racing at Northlands Park, attended by  both staff and their families – all of whom we caught off guard by the new program, says Kustiak. “Family members were over the top,” she says.

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