Our innovative spirit plays a major role in our success and attracts and retains an exceptional group of people. Our people drive our business; that is why we consistently recruit, develop and retain top talent who share the same spirit and values that motivate us to approach a centuries-old industry in new and innovative ways.
As of December 31, 2017, our workforce (employees and contractors) totalled 14,094, compared to 15,262 in 2016 and 15,836 in 2015. The largest reduction in our workforce occurred between 2014 (18,217 employees) and 2015. This was due to our transitioning to a decentralized operating model and having to create efficiencies while operating in a lower commodity price environment.
We partner extensively with contractors during the construction of new projects and when significant capital investments are made to our existing operations. Contractors provide a source of short-term labour, as well as specific construction expertise that is not readily available within our own workforce.
We also make use of contractors to supplement our internal expertise in key areas of our operations. We have a number of long-term partnerships with contractors who undertake critical components of our operation. Contractors are required to comply with our policies and procedures, including the Code of Conduct and safety procedures such as the Golden Guide and Golden Rules, which help all employees and contractors understand how to do their jobs safely.