Keeyask – Case Study

The Keeyask Success Guide is the definitive toolkit for anyone considering advancing their career at Manitoba’s only Mega-Project, in the heart of the North. Available online, in video format or hardcover at your local recruitment centre. Get the full story below.​

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Keeyask is a 695-megawatt electricity generating station and one of the largest construction projects ever in Manitoba. Keeyask is a live-in work camp and work site with about 2,400 people in the middle of Northern Manitoba, in the Split Lake Resource Management Area, and within the ancestral homeland of all four partner First Nations.

The camp is about two hours drive from Gillam and about three hours from Thompson. It is a remote, temporary camp and worksite that is bigger than most communities in the area and is ‘home’ to people from all over the world. Most shifts are 21 straight days of 12 hour shifts, then 7 days off, which include travel time. As mega-project sites go, Keeyask is one of the best, with amenities like a full-sized gym, theatres, games rooms, a lounge and more.

To get a true sense of the experience of working at Keeyask, we went there as new recruits would, with limited information or preparation, in mid-November. Our first-hand experience of the uncertainty and excitement, and the culture shock of security and regiment were instrumental in understanding the challenges at hand.

Core Issues:

  • Recruitment at Keeyask has historically been strong, but retention has been a challenge, with an unacceptable number of people leaving after their first, or second, three-week shift.
  • Keeyask Hydropower Limited Partnership (KHLP) has a mandate to hire, train and provide opportunities to residents of the partner communities, but every person who returns to their community unsuccessfully perpetuates the difficulty in achieving the mandate.
  • Many new recruits were unaware of, and unprepared for, the strict requirements of life at Keeyask.
  • There was inconsistency in the type of information shared with new recruits and the way in which it was shared.
  • Cultural sensitivities left some people uncomfortable with having open dialogue about work, camp life and safety expectations.

Key Solutions:

  • To improve the on-boarding process by helping prepare first-time employees for the realities of life at Keeyask.
  • To reduce the number of employees who quit their job at Keeyask within the first few months.
  • Set a tone of voice and develop language that recruiters and supervisors can use in everyday conversation.
  • Deliver the information in bite-sized pieces across multiple formats to accommodate all learning-style preferences.
  • Support the use of the materials with information and tools recruiters and on-boarding managers can use.


The project had no predefined brand. There is a Keeyask logo and the brands of Manitoba Hydro and the other major employers, so there was a lot of room for creativity.

The culture of Keeyask is an unusual interweaving of at least three distinct corporate cultures, plus the ever-present security and safety considerations, overlaid on a distinctly Northern Manitoba feel, with the practices of the wisdom traditions tied in.

Within this, people from all over the world, with all kinds of skill sets and attitudes are living and working together, in shared isolation. Keeyask is literally in a world of its own. Arriving there for the first time could not feel familiar to anyone.

Meeting with employers and Employee Retention Services staff allowed us to unpack some of the many reasons that people go home early.

It became clear that ‘selling’ people on a career at Keeyask wasn’t going to help. People needed real information gleaned from experience in order to make an informed decision about whether working at Keeyask was right for them.


We began investigation and reserach in November. In past years, summer ramp-up of staff took place in April and May, but this year, winter pouring of concrete had Keeyask busy throughout. The website, online content, and the first videos were launched in May. Subsequent videos and print materials were developed throughout June and July.



Working at Keeyask for 21 days straight is hard. The honest and direct conversations with employers and employees, who each faced their own challenges at Keeyask, made it very clear that this was not about selling an ideal. It was about real situations people face there, like managing family responsibilties, making choices about drug and alcohol use, leaving the familiar for the unknown possibly for the first time, and taking on a challenge for deeply personal reasons.


It was imperative that the language and the tone of voice be clear, conversational, credible and absolutely non-judgemental. It had to have room for straight talk, for empathy and a bit of humour. It had to pass the sniff test of young people who have become very selective about what they buy into.

The end product had to be something front line recruiters and supervisors wanted to use. So it needed to be practical, no-nonsense and absolutely non-bureaucratic.


Because language and literacy are highly variable in the audience, it was important to meet the needs of most learning types. The first step was breaking all the information into manageable segments, introducing each segment and its goals clearly and mapping next steps. The content was delivered incorporating story-telling, imagery, video, music and print, recognizing that some like to absorb print information at their own pace, while others prefer learning through video, witht he occasional print supports.


It is always important to get feedback from audience and user groups, but it was also important that the recruiters, employee support people and supervisors know about these tools, have ready access to them in different formats and can speak to them clearly and consistently. One of the objectives of the project was to provide managers and supervisors with examples of language and tone that can be adapted to support their ongoing conversations.


The selected creative approach was the ‘survival guide’, which would allow for clear, direct language and the opportunity to inject some personality and humour.

With no brand to speak of, we built out a colour palette from those included on the website, to ensure these materials were distinct, yet visually aligned.

The development of the print materials began to set the tone, but the character development and scripting of the videos is where the personality of the project really came to life.

The Keeyask Success Guide was launched as an addition to the website. It houses 7 segments, taking the potential recruit from deciding if Keeyask is right for them, through preparing themselves and their family, packing, making the trip, camp life and safety. The website launched with all the information on-line and available as downloadable pdf’s and with videos 1 and 2 in place. As the weeks went on, new videos were added.

E-newsletters went out to staff and supervisors introducing the assets, and a powerpoint was provided for those who wanted to use the resources as part of their recruitment and onboarding processes.

5 x 7″ printed versions of the survival guide handbooks were printed and distributed and posters and tent cards promote the materials at site.


Within 5 months of launching, the metrics are extremely encouraging, surpassing expectations, considering the audience size (2,400 employees) and the niche.

Website Performance:
  • 1,990 Unique Visitors
  • 2,659 Sessions
  • 8,023 Page Views
  • 15% of sessions lasting between 10 and 68 minutes.
Client Testimonial

“Nothing but positive comments. A senior official from one of our major  partners who has worked all over the world on these types of projects said they did a similar on-boarding program in Australia where they hired a psychologist to work out how they were going to execute the plan with the right messaging and tone. He said this program is better by far than that one.”

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