Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 3, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why DynaLIFE Dx was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2016):
- In addition to three weeks of starting vacation, DynaLIFE Dx offers employees up to 5 paid personal days off, which can be scheduled throughout the year
- DynaLIFE Dx encourages employees to prepare for the future with retirement planning assistance and employer contributions to a matching RSP plan -- and also helps retiring employees transition to life after work with phased-in work options
- DynaLIFE Dx provides maternity and parental leave top-up payments to employees who are new mothers or adoptive parents (to 95% of salary for 6 weeks) and offers an option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence
DynaLIFE DX thrives amid challenge
Saving lives is all in a day's work at Edmonton-based DynaLIFE DX laboratories. But it's not always routine. In one classic case, a lab technologist performing a standard test on blood from an ill child found that the boy had a previously undiagnosed - and life-threatening - condition. DynaLIFE operates 24/7, and the technologist was working in the evening. Instead of sending a fax or leaving a voicemail at the doctor's office, the technologist knew she needed to speak to the physician right away. It took a few hours and lots of phone calls, but she finally tracked down the pediatrician.
As a result, the boy was rushed to hospital where he was treated just before going into cardiac trauma. "He would not have made it if the technologist had not gone the extra mile," says Cathy Rendek, DynaLIFE's Manager of Human Resources. She tells the story to demonstrate staff dedication to patients. Says Rendek: "Doing the right thing, day-in and day-out, is in our DNA."
Jason Pincock, Chief Executive Officer of the private diagnostic laboratory serving central and northern Alberta, agrees. "Our decision-making process is based on doing what is best for the patient," he explains, "rather than what is most cost-effective."
That way of doing business is the cornerstone of DynaLIFE's corporate culture.
"Everyone says they have a good culture," he says. "But you don't really know until it is tested." DynaLIFE's culture was severely tested nearly two years ago. The then-provincial government announced that it wanted to shift laboratory services to an Australian firm when its DynaLIFE contract expired in 2016. "That rocked our world," Pincock acknowledges.
But DynaLIFE bounced back. The company won an appeal of the government decision, and the employees showed strong support. "None of our people have left as a result of our uncertain future," Pincock says. "There is no absenteeism: they are coming to work because they care and know that they play a meaningful role in the health-care system."
In another sign of employee resiliency, attendance at corporate-sponsored social events - and there are many throughout the year - has increased, and there has been no let-up in employee community volunteer activities, something encouraged by the company with one annual paid day off.
Another sign of DynaLIFE's strong culture is a distinctive, perhaps unique, agreement between management and the union that represents the lab's medical technologists and lab assistants, most of the 1,200 employees. These workers, on their own, have declared themselves essential and have committed to a no-strike pledge.
Says Pincock: "Employees made this pledge because it was the right thing to do. No matter what happens during bargaining, they are saying a potential withdrawal of services should never hang over patients' heads."
For her part, Rendek says the company's strong sense of values accounts for its remarkable retention numbers. More than one-third have been with DynaLIFE for a decade or more, and one employee this year will be celebrating her 50th work anniversary.
The retention numbers are even more noteworthy, Rendek adds, given that the public sector labs offer better salaries and benefits. Employees stay long-term with DynaLIFE, she says, because "we care about them, and we live our values."
Indeed, the company's approach to professional development both reflects and is an outcome of having so many long-term employees. Explains Pincock: "We have to
provide people with multiple careers if we want them to stay, and we have to support them in those careers and their various stages of life."
Rendek, herself, has been with the company for 35 years, starting out as a file clerk and later working in the labs before obtaining an HR certificate at night, all while being supported financially by the company one way or another. "The organization has been very in my quest to find myself," she says.
Meanwhile, the new provincial government has extended the DynaLIFE contract for a year while reviewing the entire provincial laboratory system.