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 staff 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 who works for us 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 in 2016 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 staff have clearly defined roles, understand what’s expected of them, and know how their work supports Cenovus’s priorities.


Organizational health is about how we deliver results – not what we do – and is focused on four key pillars:

  • Alignment, which is about ensuring staff can see how their work contributes to the success of their team and the company.
  • Execution, which is about having the right tools and processes in place to help staff deliver on their accountabilities and do meaningful work.
  • Engagement, which is about the workplace experience. We want our staff to feel recognized and appreciated, and to feel a sense of community in our workspaces and camps.
  • Agility, which is about sensing and adapting to change. We will help staff be agile by empowering them to make decisions, innovate, drive change and leverage technology.

The table below provides an overview of our goal related to organizational health and provides recent performance examples. To help us continue to work towards our goals, there are a number of activities that leaders and staff will be working on. We also plan to continue conducting company-wide surveys to help gather staff feedback on how we’re doing. In this section you can read more about some of our company programs that will help us progress towards our goal.

Our goal Our recent performance examples

Improve organizational health

  • We defined organizational health and communicated the goal to staff
  • We conducted a company-wide survey to identify areas where we need to improve

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 the way we do it. They speak to the importance of that work. Most importantly, they speak to the kind of company we are and the kind of company we want to be. They guide us in how we do our work today and as we grow:

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

  • 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 (COMS) and safety commitments, and driving our strategic outcomes. Employees are expected to understand and commit to demonstrating the behaviours as part of their performance agreement.


In 2016, as part of our transition to a functional model, we reorganized our teams by the type of work they do to ensure they are aligned with Cenovus’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 being organized functionally will help us achieve efficiencies across our company, improve the way we work and provide long-term, sustainable reductions to our overall cost structure. We also expect that it will help us leverage expertise and drive consistency for improved reliability and productivity as well as deliver on our commitments and support our objective of creating value for shareholders.


We remain committed to employee development. In 2016, in place of external conferences and training, we encouraged learning through on-the-job development opportunities and interactions with others, including activities such as asking for feedback from colleagues, tackling new assignments and 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
  • Technical development programs that build the skills our workers need to help them deliver on Cenovus’s operational priorities
  • 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

Every two years, we hold a two-day internal conference called the Innovation Summit. Staff from Calgary and our field locations gather to network, exchange ideas, share knowledge and learn from each other. Highlights from the summit usually include poster displays created by staff featuring innovations from across the company, presentations providing details about their innovations and diverse internal and external keynote speakers. Planning for our 2017 Innovation Summit began in 2016, and for the first time, the committee was led by two staff members who are part of the new graduate development program. Typically the planning committee is led by two senior leaders. The new graduates were given the opportunity to participate in leadership roles on the committee as part of our effort to provide more responsibility and development opportunities during new graduate job rotations.

Innovation Summit committee

The Innovation Summit committee responsible for planning the 2017 event.


Respect is an important part of our culture. We take a proactive approach to ensuring the rights of our employees are respected through various policies and practices, including our Code of Business Conduct & Ethics, Corporate Responsibility Policy and Non-Harassment Practice, which, combined, serve to foster respectful behavior. 

Our Expect Respect™ program also reminds employees that disrespectful behaviour is not tolerated in their dealings with each other or community members.


Cenovus is committed to ensuring compliance with applicable laws, regulations and industry standards relating to human rights, employment standards and labour relations in the jurisdictions in which we operate. These requirements are integrated into various aspects of our practices and business requirements and reviewed periodically. Our Corporate Responsibility Policy confirms our support of the principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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 2016, our voluntary turnover rate was 3.1 percent. That was lower than the average annualized attrition rate of our peers which was 3.5 percent, as of December 2016.

Total workforce by type

Total workforce by type

As of December 31, 2016 Cenovus had 3,528 employees and contractors. Employees comprised approximately 79 percent of our workforce, while contractors comprised the remaining 21 percent.

Total workforce by gender and location

Total workforce by gender and location

In 2016, employees at our office locations in Calgary were 57 percent male and 43 percent female. At our field operations, employees were 91 percent male and nine percent female. Females represented 25 percent of management positions and 22 percent of top management positions.