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Oilers HR Director Awarded for Thinking “Outside the Box” During Work Stoppage

by Andrea Goss / Edmonton Oilers

Taking the road less travelled resulted in a prestigious honour for the Human Resources Director of the Edmonton Oilers, Tandy Kustiak. The Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) recognized Kustiak as the Strategic Innovator of the Year during a ceremony in front of 900 guests at the Shaw Conference Centre Thursday.

“We’re looking for somebody who is really doing something different and outside the box, and that really gives that wow factor,” said Janice MacPherson, spokesperson for the HRIA.

Kustiak was nominated for her integral role in the Oilers work stoppage secondment program, a unique initiative that saw dozens of employees temporarily placed with partner organizations rather than enduring pay cuts or layoffs.

“Our awards are chosen by a volunteer committee and when I saw Tandy’s nomination come in, I knew the committee was going to have a tough time (saying no) because that was a very significant and innovative project she did,” said MacPherson.

“When the nomination comes from inside your group and then you’re recognized across your profession in a province that’s as vibrant as this one, it means a lot,” added Kustiak.

The award was sponsored by The Banff Centre and presented by their Director of Innovation and Program Partnerships, Jerry McGrath.

“I think that HR professionals, and people in general, need to look outside of their organization for solutions more and more and I think what Tandy did was really inspirational. She had an easy solution in front of her and she chose a more difficult path, but one that actually saved people work, made them feel secure and actually set them up for success once the lockout was completed.”

During the four month NHL work stoppage, Oilers employees lent their skill sets to organizations such as the Winspear Centre, West Edmonton Mall, the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton, Williams Engineering and Etelligence. They stayed on the Oilers payroll and the company maintained their benefits, while the partner organizations shared the cost of a portion of their salaries.

“Our biggest goal as the senior management team was to retain the top talent we had worked so hard to get; I did not want to lose them,” said Kustiak.

“It was really neat to watch the people that went out to other organizations. They picked up a lot of pieces but they were also excited to come back. They wanted to be back with the team, they didn’t want to miss a beat.”

And they never did miss a beat, returning and appreciating the unique approach Tandy and the Oilers had taken with the employees during the lockout.

The Oilers organization congratulates Tandy Kustiak on this special recognition.
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