Attracting and retaining smart, dedicated people while ensuring our culture supports bottom line results is key to the success of our business strategy. We want our employees to have a work environment that supports development, provides interesting work, pays for performance and provides recognition for going the extra mile. And at the end of every day we want to make sure everyone goes home safely to their families.

Due to the low oil price environment, we made the difficult decision to reduce the size of our workforce so that our staffing levels better align with the work we are undertaking. With lower staffing levels, it’s more important than ever that our employees have clearly defined roles, understand what’s expected of them, and how that supports our priorities.


In early 2016 we revised Our Cenovus, our internal guidepost for who we are as a company, so that it aligns with our evolving strategy and reflects the culture we need to have going forward.

Our purpose, our promise and our commitments are more than just words on a page. They speak to the pride we have in the work we do and in the way we do it. They speak to the importance of that work to provide energy the world wants. Most importantly, they speak to the kind of company we are. The kind of company we want to be. They guide us in how we do our work today and as we grow:

Evolving our culture

Staff at our Christina Lake operations.

Why we exist (our purpose)
To fuel world progress

What we do (our promise)
To create value by responsibly providing energy the world wants

What we’re committed to:

  • Working safely
  • Operating in a way that maintains and enhances our reputation
  • Making smart environmental choices every day
  • Strengthening the communities where we live and work
  • Having an engaging workplace

We also identified five key behaviours that are essential to our company’s success and to the culture we want Cenovus to have. The behaviours are:

  • Don’t do it if it can’t be done safely
  • Understand what you do, why you do it and how to do it well
  • Work together to make Cenovus successful
  • Do what you say you will do
  • Have each other’s back

In addition to communicating what teams and individuals need to do to be successful, these behaviours are critical in implementing key programs and initiatives, enabling our Cenovus Operations Management System and safety commitments, and driving our strategic outcomes. Employees are expected to understand, demonstrate and commit to the behaviours.


In 2015, we started a transition to a functional model, reorganizing our teams by the type of work they do and ensuring they are aligned with our company’s value chain. A value chain consists of a series of activities, carried out in a specific order, that bring a product to consumers. For Cenovus this includes how we develop, produce and transport oil to refineries so it can be made into useable products like gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

We believe that moving to a functional model will help us achieve efficiencies across our company, improve the way we work and provide long-term, sustainable reductions to our overall cost structures. We also expect that it will help us leverage expertise and drive consistency for improved reliability and productivity. This will help us deliver on our commitments and support our objective of creating value for shareholders.


We are committed to employee development. The current low oil price environment doesn’t change that. In place of external conferences and training, we encouraged learning in 2015 through on-the-job development opportunities and interactions with others, including activities such as asking for feedback from colleagues, tackling a new assignment or informal mentoring.

We’ve also developed a suite of training and development tools for our employees over the years, including:

  • Leadership development and coaching programs that enable leaders to effectively lead and manage change, drive performance, deal with challenging situations and coach their people. In 2015, leaders were provided with a number of new resources to help them support their teams in managing through difficult and uncertain times.
  • Technical development programs that build the skills we need staff to have to deliver on our operational priorities
  • Development opportunities such as on-the-job training, cross-functional moves and participation in special projects
  • The Cenovus Learning Institute, which is comprised of Calgary and field-based training centres for technical course delivery and an online portal with a variety of educational and development resources
  • A new graduate development program that provides job rotations and competency development so new graduates receive a breadth of experience and develop the skills they need to be successful

Innovation Summit: Learning from each other to improve what we do and how we do it

In 2015, we held a two-day internal conference called the Innovation Summit. More than 1,700 staff from Calgary and our field locations gathered to network, exchange ideas, share knowledge and learn from each other. For staff who were unable to attend the Innovation Summit, posters and videos of the oral presentations and keynote speakers were made available on our internal website after the event.

Highlights from the summit included:

  • 137 poster displays created by staff, featuring innovations from across the company
  • 16 presentations from staff providing more details about their innovations
  • Four diverse internal and external keynote speakers

See what staff had to say about the event:


Respect is a big part of our culture. We trust each other to do the right thing. We conduct our business with respect, recognizing that respect requires both candour and caring. Our Expect Respect™ program reminds employees that disrespectful behaviour is not tolerated in their dealings with each other or community members.

We are also committed to fair labour practices. Our Corporate Responsibility Policy confirms our support of the principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Two examples of programs that support employment opportunities and diversity in our workplace are:

  • Hire a veteran: assists people with the transition from military careers to civilian careers in the private sector
  • Employment Bridging Internship Program: identifies Aboriginal internship candidates who are interested in working toward a career in the oil and natural gas industry

Voluntary employee turnover

Voluntary employee turnover

In 2015, our voluntary turnover rate was 2.9 percent – the lowest it has been since 2011, and well below the industry average of 5.3 percent as reported by the Conference Board of Canada (June 2015). Voluntary turnover was mainly due to individuals wanting to pursue different opportunities.

Total workforce

Total workforce

Due to the low oil price environment, we made the difficult decision to reduce the size of our workforce in 2015 by 24 percent so that our staffing levels better align with the work we are undertaking.

Total workforce by gender and location

Total workforce by gender and location

In 2015, employees at our office locations in Calgary were 55 percent male and 45 percent female. At our field operations in Alberta and Saskatchewan, employees were 91 percent male and 9 percent female. Females represented 26 percent of management positions and 18 percent of top management positions in 2015.