Working to end ‘two solitudes’ at Canada Post

Canada Post, with 65,000 employees, has historically been an environment of “two solitudes”, one representing the company, the other representing the employees, says Robert Waite, Canada Post senior vice-president, communications and stakeholder relations.

It has been an often been a fractious relationship, with little constructive dialogue between the two sides.

“It’s time to turn the page and forge a new relationship with our employees,” Waite said in a telephone interview Friday (Apr. 21).

Moya Greene, who took over the reins at Canada Post as president and CEO a year ago, has declared employee engagement as the corporation’s number one priority.

Waite and senior vice-president Mary Traversy, senior vice-president, employee engagement, who both joined the Canada Post executive team last year, are spearheading the effort to change the culture of the crown corporation.

“There are some tangible benefits for Canada Post with a more engaged workforce,” Waite says. “If our employees feel they are being utilized to the best of their capacity, the result can be huge productivity gains.”

Canada Post, for example, has had issues around absenteeism, Waite explains. There is a great payoff to employee engagement, some $200 million to $300 million annually in efficiency savings, he says. “That means additional money to invest in the business, to make sure Canada Post is rising in the marketplace, ensure work for our employees and create more opportunities for more people to find work at Canada Post.”

Waite, Traversy and Greene went on an extensive road trip earlier this year, meeting with about 3,000 front-line supervisors at 16 meetings to bring home the message that Canada Post is serious about employee engagement.

Waite, who was recruited into Canada Post after working in communications and customer relations with IBM, CIBC and Ford of Canada, says he and Traversy work collaboratively on employee engagement and stakeholder relations.

“The bottom line includes both employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction.”