Suncor's employees are an important part of our effort to become Canada’s premier integrated energy company

Suncor's employees are an important part of our effort to become Canada’s premier integrated energy company

Suncor's employees are an important part of our effort to become Canada’s premier integrated energy company

Suncor's employees are an important part of our effort to become Canada’s premier integrated energy company

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Our employees

Suncor's employee and recruitment infographic

Our vision to be trusted stewards of valuable natural resources and lead the way to deliver economic prosperity, improved social well-being and a healthy environment depends on the commitment, development and performance of an engaged, highly skilled and high performing workforce that shares our values. Our people are the key to our success. Below summarizes our management approach of our people.

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Our strategy

The skilled trades profession has long been described as a risk in Canada – often felt most acutely in Alberta where large-scale construction projects, maintenance and turnarounds draw upon the skilled trades workforce. However, the plummeting price of oil, increasing amount of budget cuts and layoffs by producers have casted doubt on the amount of forecasted skilled trade jobs needed in the next decade.

An economic downturn also has a ripple effect on apprentices entering the labour market. Many of them may have limited work, which leads to delayed achievement of journeyperson status and which may ultimately push them to leave the industry. We also know that an aging workforce is a demographic certainty and we will need to replenish positions that open up when people retire and begin to exit the labour market over the next few years.

Advancements in technology may also affect our workforce, but not necessarily by decreasing the demand for skilled trades, as most occupations rely heavily on the physical labour and skill contribution of its workers.

That’s why, through our own research and experience, we know that there will likely be an increase in the demand for skilled labour over the long-term, given expected global demand for the products we develop and produce.

  • The oil sands are the single largest employer of skilled tradespeople in Canada. This means our hiring will support our oil sands operation with a particular focus on recruiting skilled trades.

To address workforce challenges we’re working with:

  • industry
  • government
  • labour union providers
  • contractors
  • trainers
  • educators

We’re taking proactive steps to manage our workforce requirements. This means we’re focused on keeping people here and we’re purposefully planning for future workforce needs through the following:

  • As baby boomers retire we’ve focused on mentoring to transfer knowledge to our next generation of leaders. We’re also building new talent for the future through our engineer-in-training or apprenticeship programs.
  • We continue our strong push for senior technical types of roles, such as reliability engineers, process engineers and power engineers.
  • We foster a diverse and inclusive work environment that provides employee programs to support quality of life and career development while offering a ‘total rewards’ compensation package including: flexible benefits, pension and savings plans. This is in addition to a competitive pay package, generous vacation and performance-based annual incentive bonuses.
  • We work with industry and educational institutions to encourage Canadians, especially young Canadians, to consider training for careers in the oil and gas sector.
  • All salaried employees have an annual development goal, in support of their work priorities and performance goals. Employees may also have required training for their role, which is assigned and managed through a central, corporate learning system. Our learning and development programs are aligned in this way to help employees further develop the skills they need to execute our business strategy in a safe, reliable, and cost-effective way.

Suncor’s hiring includes securing the workforce we currently need while also ensuring we have strong succession plans for the future. We source talent from geographic regions that best support operations and hire from the local population where possible. Suncor actively develops skills in the communities in which we operate by sponsoring programs at local colleges. The only recruiting that occurs out of country is typically for ‘hard-to-fill’ positions, such as mid-career professionals. This consists of fewer than 5% of total hiring volume.

We also partner with other companies who share our values. In certain commercial agreements, we include the expectation that our partners understand our employee policies and have policies of their own which, at a minimum, adhere to employment standards and human rights legislation in all jurisdictions where we operate.


Internal policies are communicated to ensure the workplace is safe and respectful. Among others, these include:

The above policies are applicable to all Suncor employees, contractors and entities. The policies are approved by various members of senior leadership who are responsible for the stewardship of that subject matter.

Most policies are reviewed annually, with the Environment, Health and Safety Policy reviewed every three years.

Workplace diversity, inclusion and respect

We are committed to equal opportunity employment and cultivating diversity within a respectful, inclusive workplace. We believe in creating an environment where all employees, wherever we do business, are treated respectfully and feel valued.

A diverse and inclusive workforce enables us to benefit from a wide range of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. Suncor believes diversity and inclusion leads to a healthier and more successful workplace and ultimately, better performance.

We continue to progress our organizational diversity and inclusion strategies which are focused on increasing the attraction, representation and progression of women and Aboriginal peoples in our workforce.

In 2016, we are working to improve workforce diversity through improved representation and a reduced systemic bias.

  • Continue key partnerships such as Women in Engineering program
  • Enable the new Aboriginal Employee Network to support the progress of our organizational goals.
  • Continue to leverage the Aboriginal Awareness web-based training program available for all Suncor employees and contractors to understand the importance of our relationships and partnerships with these key communities.
  • Continue to develop strategies to increase the attraction, representation and progression of women and Aboriginal peoples in our workforce.
  • Enable the women’s networks across the company
  • Continue to educate the organization on the impact of unconscious bias on an environment of inclusion.
  • Leverage our annual goal setting process to continue to show our commitment to diversity and inclusion as priority for the organization.


Where labour or employment issues arise, we have mechanisms in place for employees to raise concerns in good faith.

Employees can raise an issue with their:

  • supervisor
  • business unit manager
  • legal department
  • corporate security representative
  • human resources representative
  • internal audit

Alternately, employees and contractors can file a report about a suspected violation of Suncor’s Business Code of Conduct through our integrity hotline – a third-party service where concerns can be reported anonymously and confidentially.

In certain commercial agreements, we ensure that suppliers have employee policies in place that adhere to legislated employment standards and match our values.

Suncor has a corporate responsibility to respect human rights and to ensure that we are not complicit in human rights abuses. In our human rights policy, we acknowledge that our responsibility to respect human rights applies to all of our activities and to our business relationships with others. The scope of our human rights responsibility includes our own operations and where we can influence our third-party business relationships, those of others.

Goals, targets and actions

We use an integrated workforce planning process which identifies the skills and capabilities we need. This work allows us to strategize for and recruit the right balance of early talent, mid-career employees and senior contributors, which ensures our workforce meets our strategic needs, now and in the future.

Supporting educational institutions

To help build the skills and knowledge needed for careers in trade, we support educational institutions that offer programs that produce qualified individuals for our workforce. Our long-term partnership with Keyano College in Fort McMurray, Alta., as an example, helps us meet industry needs for skilled trades in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Since 1998, the Suncor Energy Foundation has invested more than $4,100,000 to support the college with a focus on their mining and process operations programs.

Rewards and career opportunities

Suncor is a company where talented people thrive. With a comprehensive rewards package and diverse career opportunities, we attract, recruit and retain some of the most capable individuals in the industry. It takes great people to make a great company, and we value our employees’ contributions and hard work.

Our total rewards approach for employees is robust. It includes:

  • competitive compensation
  • health and insurance benefits
  • career development
  • pension and savings plan

Rounding out this picture are other programs designed to enhance quality of life for employees and their families. These include:

  • time-off programs
  • employee and family assistance
  • scholarships for dependent children
  • some benefits that accompany employees into retirement

We continue to conduct exit interviews with employees who choose to leave the company. Through these opportunities, we learn why employees leave Suncor and how we might minimize employee turnover, which is among the lowest in our industry.

Responsibilities, resources and training

Suncor's senior vice president, human resources, oversees policies and programs relating to our employment practices, and reports to the chief executive officer as well as to the board of directors.

The corporate human resources team develops tools and provides oversight and consistency to the business units. Business unit vice presidents are directly responsible for the implementation of policies and practices and are supported by human resources advisors.

We have a central, specialized labour and employee relations team that handles labour and employee relations issues that arise within the business. 

In 2015, this team was expanded to better support our oil sands operations in Alberta. These HR professionals are fully dedicated to the delivery of a wide range of labour and employee relations services. This includes leading labour negotiations, interpreting and administering collective agreements and administering grievances, as well as providing information and expertise on employment-related legislation, conducting harassment and disciplinary investigations, and any resulting actions, up to and including termination of employment.

Examples of the technological capital we invest in to manage our workforce are a central system to maintain employee information and manage payroll, and a performance management tool.

Suncor is also taking the first step towards a single learning technology for all employees and contractors. Released in early 2015, the new Suncor Learning Management System integrates with our talent management tools to improve the tracking and reporting of employee competency and related training, including safety, technical and other learning activities, and has room to grow with developments in our learning program.

Read more about our counselling and support programs for employees

Read more about our alcohol and drug policy



Human Resources shares a monthly workforce stewardship report with the executive leadership team that provides a point-in-time view of our business and functional unit people statistics and communicates year-to-date changes in our business and functional unit workforce. Other monitoring mechanisms include:

  • compliance with our business code of conduct policies (employees and contractors are asked to make an annual affirmation respecting compliance). Online and in-person training is available
  • a confidential integrity hotline available for employees and contractors. An internal audit team addresses issues raised and the board is updated regularly
  • labour and employee relations issues are centrally governed and managed locally

About every two years, Suncor encourages employees to participate in an engagement survey as a way to collect feedback on what employees say about:

  • working at Suncor
  • what drives them to stay with the company
  • what degree they go over and above
  • what is expected of them in their role

Employees are also given opportunities to provide more immediate feedback on their work or ask questions about the company through:

  • quarterly company-wide town halls
  • regular business unit or function town halls
  • access to the Employee Centre
  • regular check-ins with their leader as part of the annual performance management cycle
  • one-to-one sessions with their manager’s leader

For in-demand talent segments, the creation and implementation of key strategies will continue to be a focus in order to ensure talent is available. Suncor monitors these segments and continually assesses internal and external health so that our investment in programs is driven by need and risk.


Stewardship of HR program reporting
Every year, human resources information related to senior leadership succession planning, the annual incentive program and executive compensation is shared with Suncor’s Board of Directors.

Top-rated employer
We are proud to be recognized as a great place to work. Awards we’ve achieved include:

  1. Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work 2016
  2. Globe and Mail Canada’s Top 100 Employers 2015
  3. Alberta’s Top 70 Employers 2015
  4. Globe and Mail Top Employers for Young People 2014

Through our recruitment campaigns we continue to attract co-op students, new graduates and experienced people to Suncor.

What we are doing differently

We continue to evolve the work around areas identified for improvement in our employee engagement survey results in 2014, including:

  • managing performance
  • work processes
  • resources (people, tools and systems)
  • career opportunities

Across the company, action plans were developed to address two priority themes from those areas in 2014 and 2015:

  • improving leadership effectiveness and support
  • work processes

Business units and functions are also working on action plans to address specific feedback in their areas. The next planned employee engagement survey is scheduled for 2017.

How we manage performance

  • We align goals annually (through an extensive goal alignment process) and progress is tracked as part of ongoing conversations between employees and leaders, and then formally reviewed at mid-year and year-end. This process creates a clear line of sight for employees to Suncor strategy and prioritized work.
  • We emphasize high-quality employee development plans as an important focus area, which is enabled through our annual development goal setting process

Cost management program and impact of low crude price environment

In 2015, as part of an overall cost management program that began in 2014 and was accelerated by a low crude price environment, Suncor reduced the size of our workforce by approximately 1,700 people, primarily through our contract workforce, not backfilling attrition for non-critical positions, and employee reductions.   

These were difficult decisions to respond to market conditions. Employees who left the company were treated fairly and with respect, and were provided with career ‎transition services, including job search techniques, resume preparation, networking and interviewing skills. For positions critical to operations and safety, and wherever possible we redeployed people into these roles if they had the right skills and experience. 

Some hiring continued in 2015 to ensure that we:

  • had the specific sets of specialized skills needed to run our business safely and reliably
  • filled business critical positions that were vacant through normal attrition
  • can execute our Fort Hills oil sands project in Alberta
  • supported long-term talent recruitment needs (students, new graduates, engineers in training and apprenticeships) or maintained post-secondary relationships

In 2016, Suncor continues to implement a hiring freeze except for Fort Hills and roles that are critical to safety and operations. Despite a challenging business environment, we are committed to maintaining a strong workforce to deliver reliable, safe and environmentally responsible operations.