August 2010

Voices from Industry

The “gold standard” in human resources: Osisko’s sustainable development for a new generation of mining

By R. Mailhot

Robert MailhotIn 2005, Osisko Mining Corporation was an exploration-based company with fewer than ten employees. Employment of more than 450 employees today reflects Osisko’s unparalleled market growth rate over the past five years. The pace of our transformation into a leading gold developer and operator obviously presents tangible challenges as we try to seek, recruit and retain the next generation of Canada’s mining industry professionals.

When I accepted the newly established position of vice-president of human resources, I resolved to create a hiring template reflective of Osisko’s corporate commitment to a fresh outlook on mining. For me, what sets Osisko apart is our ultimate goal — to become the industry reference point for sustainable development in the Canadian mining sector, whether environmental, economic or social in nature. To uphold that underlying principle at all corporate levels, Osisko seeks to attract talented, passionate employees who are principled individuals. I firmly believe that philosophy is the key to our rapid success.

Employing and developing the resources

Through its creation of solid, well-paying jobs, Osisko has become a major contributor to Quebec’s economy. Our commitment to local hiring and training is a serious commitment — though not without an occasional touch of “creative” thinking: the two local women hired as the first operators for 240-tonne trucks were former bus drivers. Fortuitously, our recruiting and training initiatives have the side effect of maximizing regional economic benefits, including a five-month program to train future milling operators. Another key objective for Osisko involves building and strengthening relationships with regional First Nations Peoples. Osisko and some Algonquin enterprises have undertaken several collaborative initiatives, which include recruiting, training and forming business partnerships. We hope that this open dialogue will provide a backdrop for delivering a better social and economic future for regional First Nations Peoples.

Osisko understands that quality employees are behind the profit figures in every great company. Through forward-thinking planning and implementation, we can project our human  resources requirements and develop strategies to attract and retain the right people to propel us forward. We recognize that effective recruitment is critical for continued future success, whether through our university partnerships or through regional recruitment. As part of our outreach to the community of Malartic, one strategy has been job fair participation. In June 2009, over 500 visitors attended Osisko’s first job fair targeted at the population of Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Attendees could participate in unconventional coaching sessions covering such topics as how to have a successful interview and how to write a winning C.V. In a process we dubbed “Speed Jobbing,” thirteen volunteer interviewers conducted over 400 mini-interviews of five minutes each, which was an innovative way for potential candidates to meet with managers and existing employees. Our present database of over 15, 000 curriculum vitae, including many from the Malartic region, demonstrates the attainability of our local hiring goal.

As a responsible corporation, Osisko is committed to social development. Our human resources department collaborated with Le Tremplin de Malartic high school to develop a school retention program called La Corporation Victoire. To discourage dropping-out of school to join the workforce, we are committed to hiring high school diploma graduates to ensure that individuals have a wide range of options available to them.

Along with our integrated approach to sustainable development, I believe that Osisko can also establish the “gold standard” benchmark in human resources. Osisko’s desire to maintain good employee relations led to the spring 2010 creation of a Labour Relations Committee. Its objectives are to facilitate interaction between management and employees and to efficiently redress employee concerns. Osisko’s employees have participated in several confidential job satisfaction surveys, including “Le Défi du meilleur employeur au Québec 2010,” undertaken through the human resources firm of Watson Wyatt. For HR, these surveys act as a tool with which to empower and to listen to employees, and to improve sectors that need attention. Our goal is to be continuously recognized for our industry leadership and our focus on employee job satisfaction.

Why do Osisko employees take such pride in their jobs? My sense is that our employees feel they are part of something incredible: Every employee feels as though the Osisko story is not yet written in its entirety, and that they can be a part of writing it. With our pens dipped in the ink of sustainable development, I believe that Osisko can leave an indelible mark on the Canadian mining industry.

Robert Mailhot is vice-president of human resources, Osisko Mining Corporation.

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