Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2016) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016):
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences offers a unique workplace experience in health care -- the campus is situated on nearly 100 acres of ravine parkland with plenty of green space for employees to walk or ride their bikes (bike commuters have secure cages for parking) -- inside, employees have access to a fitness centre and a variety of eating options in the large food court with onsite Tim Hortons, Starbucks and Second Cup outlets
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences supports employees who are new mothers with maternity and parental leave top-up payments and a generous subsidy for in vitro fertilization when needed (to $15,000) -- also offers parental top-up for new fathers or adoptive parents and operates convenient onsite daycare
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences maintains a strong focus on employee wellness, which includes a unique "Life Stages Program", offering support to employees through all stages of life (subjects range from eldercare to personal health to managing a household), an annual Wellness and Safety Fair and a variety of nutrition programs
How Sunnybrook nurtures talent
Early one September morning, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre held a ceremony for the 135 new graduates of its Leadership Institute. Nurses came in scrubs. A breakfast was held to celebrate. The hospital's senior leadership team recognized the graduates of eight different programs. Photos were snapped. And then all the graduates returned to work - taking care of patients and their families.
"At a 24-hour trauma hospital, we have to be efficient in everything we do," says Shamena Maharaj, Director, Human Resources, Organizational Development & Leadership.
The Sunnybrook Leadership Institute plays a major role in the working environment at the central Toronto hospital, one of Canada's leading healthcare institutions, by influencing and developing key talent. Since 2011, over 9,000 staff and physicians have participated in the Institute's workshops and programs. "Our employment promise is to be more at Sunnybrook," says Maharaj.
The Institute has a holistic approach to leadership and learning, offering classroom and online learning opportunities for professional and personal development. For example, over an eight-week period, the Management Excellence Program provides coaching, analysis of key concepts, and practical leadership tools. As part of the experiential learning, participants create presentations based on their own Sunnybrook work experience to share with their peers and leaders.
Leadership Institute workshops include topics such as Foundations of Coaching, Effective Communication, Crucial Conversations, and much more. "It's one of the unique things we do," says Christopher Townsend, Manager, Organizational Development & Leadership. "Each workshop is matched to one or more of Sunnybrook's core and leadership competencies." The OD&L team does everything from setting up programs customized for different departments and units to organizing the graduation ceremony.
Steffanye Michaelson, a nurse who spent many years working in Emergency has recently taken over as a Patient Care Manager for Surgical Oncology and Medical Short Stay. She completed a leadership certificate designed to develop her ability to influence others by building respectful relationships and trust. "You develop skills and learn with your peers," she explains. "They do want to teach, educate and groom staff here. That's a really big perk."
Michaelson says one of her goals as a leader, is to be a resource for her colleagues - "to have them come to me and be comfortable."
Along with team development and learning, she has benefited from other activities, such as keynote speakers open to all staff and physicians. It's not unusual to have more than 100 people show up for a lunchtime talk on Appreciative Leadership or a related topic.
Dr. Nadia Ismiil, Chief of Anatomic Pathology, describes Sunnybrook's leadership program as both transformative and inspiring. She participated in sessions designed especially for the Anatomic Pathology department, which includes physicians, technology assistants and the inter-professional team.
"As chief, it's very important to me to be self-aware and to work collaboratively," she says. "We all work together. Patient care is our primary goal."
Nigel Wilson, a Project Leader and Systems Architect, says the various different courses he's taken have prepared him to manage different types of projects. He works with clinicians, nursing managers, staff, and of course his own team. "All have a different perspective," he says. "I try to mediate and get to the best solution."
Ultimately, explains Maharaj, effective leaders contribute to greater employee engagement and job enjoyment as well as a willingness to go above and beyond.
"There's leadership everywhere in this organization including at the bedside," says Michaelson. "That's why I say everyone's a leader."
Teamwork defines the culture of care at Sunnybrook
As a registered nurse with experience in neonatal intensive care, Deb Cull-Hollingsworth knew she would enjoy working at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. The modern facilities of its Women & Babies Program were a clear improvement over the cramped maternity ward of the old downtown Toronto hospital where she'd worked before. Sunnybrook's warm, collegial environment has proved equally welcome.
"For such a huge place, I see familiar faces every day and not just in my own unit, but in the hallways too," says Cull-Hollingsworth. "Sunnybrook has a really nice friendly atmosphere. The people are almost family."
Sunnybrook is indeed big, nestled within its 100-acre parkland setting. Since opening in June 1948 as a veterans care hospital, it has grown and evolved into Canada's largest single-site hospital, with some 1.2 million patient visits a year.
As well as serving the local community in midtown Toronto, Sunnybrook cares for patients referred from other Ontario hospitals. Four internationally recognized specialty programs - heart and stroke; cancer; trauma and emergency services; and high-risk maternal and newborn care - are equipped to handle some of the most critically ill and injured patients in Canada.
Sunnybrook is also a leading teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto, where each year more than 2,600 graduate and postgraduate students from Canada and abroad learn about the latest advances in healthcare. Some have
fellowships with the Sunnybrook Research Institute whose 1,275 researchers, including 295 scientists and clinician scientists, do groundbreaking work.
In all, more than 10,000 full- and part-time staff, physicians and volunteers work on-site each day. It's a large and diverse group, yet Sunnybrook has met the challenge of respecting individual wants and needs with a wide-ranging employee benefits package. Staff can access programs that serve everything from their daily health and safety needs to their long-term career aspirations.
A supportive workplace environment where people feel they are truly making a difference also plays a significant role in worker satisfaction at Sunnybrook. As Cull-Hollingsworth's experience shows, this often comes down to teamwork. She is team leader in the High Risk Obstetrical Unit for women with pregnancies so complicated they require round-the-clock inpatient care. Many patients in the 23-bed unit have other serious medical conditions, including neurological disorders, heart disease or cancer. Cull-Hollingsworth can also turn to colleagues in other departments whose expertise can help provide the interdisciplinary care the women need.
"Teams are essential in an organization as large as ours," says Marilyn Reddick, Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Development. "Teams can be within a department, or inter-departmental, and a person can be on multiple teams. Instead of feeling like cogs in a much larger organization, individuals can see the impact of their contributions."
At the same time, Sunnybrook recognizes and rewards individual achievement. Each June, for instance, a Service Award Celebration pays tribute to important career milestones with a beautiful dinner and gifts pre-chosen by the recipient. Cull-Hollingsworth attended in 2015 to mark 20 years of service. "It was lovely," she says, "being among other people who have dedicated their working life to Sunnybrook."
Cull-Hollingsworth also enjoys the huge staff barbecue held each fall on the Sunnybrook grounds where burgers, sausages, corn, ice cream and cupcakes are served. "It is lots of fun, and really makes you feel appreciated," she adds.
For Reddick, the reason for putting on such events is plain: "Our most important resource is our people. Each and every person is critical to our success."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 10, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016):
- In partnership with the Toronto District School Board, Sunnybrook Health Sciences accepts up to 75 high school students annually to work at the hospital as part of its "Experiential Learning Co-Operative Program" and also works with local high schools to offer a co-op/apprenticeship program focused on trade areas within Plant Operations and Building Maintenance
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences hosts an annual "Young People Career Fair" to create student awareness of careers in a hospital environment, both within and outside medical fields with 22 interactive booths set up for kids to learn and ask questions
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 21, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2016):
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences employs two senior-level personnel who lead the evolution and implementation of the "Environmental Sustainability Program", which encompasses five primary areas: energy and water conservation; waste management; transportation; procurement; and awareness and education -- the organization also hosts an annual "Earth Matters Showcase" each spring to highlight its energy conservation and environmental initiatives for employees, physicians, volunteers and students, as well as a public website and blog which serves as an ongoing forum to solicit employee feedback on current programs
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences manages a number of enhanced waste management programs, including aggressive recycling and reuse programs such as the reusable meal container program, composting initiatives, use of environmentally friendly cleaning products, a unique fluorescent bulb "eater" machine that breaks down bulbs into recyclable material while capturing 99.99 percent of potentially harmful vapors, and unique anesthetic gas absorption technology to reduce the amount of waste gas released into the environment by 95 percent or the equivalent of removing over 200 cars from the road
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences has conducted an in-house commuter survey to assist in long term transportation planning programs, which already include secure bicycle parking cages, support for a dedicated Bikers User Group (or BUGS), a car pooling program and four shuttle buses with free rides for employees -- the hospital also leases hybrid vehicles for its security personnel and recently hosted its first electric vehicle showcase that featured seven different electric vehicle models (Sunnybrook employees even have their own Electric Vehicle Enthusiasts Group)