Borger encourages employee innovation

Company wins gold in building and construction category of Canada's Safest Employers awards

Borger encourages employee innovation

Employees at Borger Group of Companies have safety at their fingertips. Through the Borger app on their smartphones, they can access wikiBorger, a searchable database introduced earlier this year. Here they can find all safety-related information, including safe work practices, safe job procedures, job hazard assessment forms, checklists, emergency response plans, templates and every policy and detail for every activity performed by any Borger Group employee. Previously, this information was held in giant binders and was only available to leaders.

“It not only holds the field accountable, but now the field can hold us accountable because they have that access to information,” says Hassan Hussein, safety manager for Borger Group, a construction company based in Calgary. “And if anything is happening on the job site outside of what we have dictated should happen, they can call us on it.”

Bill Borger, president and CEO, pushes wikiBorger regularly on the Borger Broadcast, a weekly company-wide update from Borger and members of the leadership team.

He also mandates supervisors mention wikiBorger on a regular basis.

“They have a quota that they are supposed to mention it three to five times per week, as a minimum, just to make sure it catches on,” says Borger.


Borger Group takes innovation seriously. An annual innovation fair sources ideas from workers on how to make business improvements. All 386 workers are welcomed to submit an idea.

“One of the challenges I have always faced in the field is people presenting problems without really presenting a solution,” says Hussein. “This allows the entire team to drive change, so you’re not only presenting the solution, you need to implement the innovation so it takes life.”

Winners receive scholarships, cash prizes and trophies. But Borger doesn’t just take the top five winning ideas; he implements as many as he can. This year he is aiming for 50 or 60 out of the 80 different ideas presented, he says.

All participants are awarded Borger Bucks, an internal currency that can be redeemed for a variety of items including gift cards, event and sporting tickets and discounted premium safety gear.

Once an idea is implemented, the innovators and everyone involved in bringing that idea to life receive a unique innovation coin, which initiates their entry into the Borger Innovation Coin Game. This elaborate and engaging game involves awards, discounts in the team portal, special draws, photo contests and much more.

“The value of that coin is not to be underestimated. I ride out in the field every Saturday and they go, ‘How can I get a coin?’” says Borger. “Everyone wants these coins.”

Also new this year is the AWARE (Actively Working Towards Real Education) decal program that identifies a worker’s level of experience at Borger. Those who have not worked at Borger before or are returning after more than one year away are identified with a green AWARE decal on their hard hat for their first complete season. Those with two to five consecutive seasons receive a brown AWARE decal, five to 10 seasons gets a silver decal and greater than 10 seasons gets a gold decal.

“We have construction workers come from several different outfits… and when they do hit our job sites, they are just not meeting our expectations with respect to safety,” says Hussein.

“If you just started at Borger, regardless of how much time you have spent in industry elsewhere, you will get a green sticker on your hard hat with the number 1 on it and that allows everybody to know you are still not familiar with everything that is expected of you at Borger.”

This article originally appeared in the October/November 2017 issue of COS.