As a mom with three children under the age of six, Gillian Brookins admits things can get busy. “For me, work-life balance is huge,” says the project analyst with Irving Oil. “Here at Irving Oil, we have the flexibility to work from home, and we have leaders who understand that we all have lives outside of work.”
Not many companies are so clearly a part of the fabric of their home province like Irving Oil. The Saint John, N.B.-based business is one of New Brunswick’s largest employers, with professionals from dozens of disciplines. Irving Oil operates Canada’s largest oil refinery, with a network of distribution terminals and fuelling locations across Eastern Canada and New England. Through the company’s approach to energy transition, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing sustainable energy solutions, it is working to provide safe and reliable energy, while evolving its business for the future.
Brookins was hired as an accountant fresh out of university in 2014, and began navigating her own career evolution with the company. After sharing her goal of pursuing human resources with her manager, she was offered the opportunity to job shadow members of the company’s human resources team.
“I’ve had a few different roles with the company since then and have always been provided with lots of training to set me up for success,” she says. “I’m a different person today than when I started. Through every stage, the company has been very supportive.”
Ensuring employees are engaged and feeling supported is important for the company, says Jennifer Beach, chief human resources and corporate administration officer.
“We prioritize safety and remain grounded in the values that have guided our company for nearly 100 years – that people matter,” she says. “We want everyone to go home safe every day – with our employees, our customers and our communities at the heart of all we do.”
The company’s new LEED-certified headquarters – the ‘home office’ – nestled in the centre of Saint John is a case in point. The award-winning building brought together six offices that were once spread across the city, with a host of amenities and an open-concept layout designed to allow employees to meet and collaborate. In addition to a flexible work program, Beach says providing a state-of-the-art space for employees to continue building meaningful connections is essential.
“When we designed the home office, the question we concentrated on was, ‘How do we bring our people together to collaborate and to work effectively together,’” says Beach.
The home office also provides employees with a fitness centre, change rooms and shower facilities, allowing employees to squeeze in a lunchtime workout, yoga or spin class.
The workplace features nursing staff who provide services such as on-site blood collection. A café on the fifth floor offers a rotation of daily specials, as well as a lunchroom and patio where staff can enjoy a smoothie, sandwich or hearty soup while gazing out at the Bay of Fundy.
And for those looking to give back to their community, Irving Oil’s Good Energy in Action program allows employees time away from the office to volunteer. The program also matches employees’ charitable donations.
Brookins is involved with All In, the company’s employee resource group that delivers meaningful programming and learning opportunities, and celebrates the diverse voices of its employees. She also participates in the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, a group that looks for ways to enhance Irving Oil’s inclusive culture that supports diversity, individuality and respect.
“It’s easy to come to work and be yourself,” says Brookins. “We have an environment that promotes authenticity.”
Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.