Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2015)
Here are some of the reasons why Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2016), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2016) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016):
- 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 also operates a convenient onsite daycare facility
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences maintains a strong focus on employee wellness, which includes providing employees with a variety of flexible work options (when possible), free membership to an onsite fitness facility, a unique "Life Stages Program" that offers support to employees through all stages of life, an annual Wellness and Safety Fair, a variety of nutrition programs, and even encourages employees to leave the car at home with the installation of large secure bike cages at four separate locations on the campus
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences offers a unique healthcare workplace experience, situated on nearly 100 acres of ravine parkland in midtown Toronto with plenty of green space for employees to walk, ride a bike or take a break during the day
At Sunnybrook, care doesn't end with the patients
For those dedicated to the care of others, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre provides ample opportunity to engage in work that is inherently meaningful. Even so, a career in healthcare can be very demanding and stressful. No wonder, then, that the groundbreaking hospital believes that tending to the wellbeing of its employees goes hand in hand with caring for its patients.
"Our goal is to attract and keep the best people and help them develop to their full potential," says Dr. Barry McLellan, President and CEO of Sunnybrook. "Literally hundreds of details go into creating a supportive workplace environment where people can feel they are truly making a difference."
Situated in a parkland setting in midtown Toronto, Sunnybrook officially opened in June 1948 as a veterans' care hospital. It has grown and evolved into one of Canada's largest health sciences centres, where a team of 10,000 staff, physicians and volunteers serves some 1.2 million patients a year. Widely recognized for its specialty programs in trauma and emergency services, cancer treatment, and high-risk maternal and newborn care, it is also a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto.
Among the benefits Sunnybrook offers are ones aimed at making employees' daily lives a little smoother. This includes a variety of flexible work options (when possible), an onsite daycare facility and free membership to two onsite fitness facilities. An award-winning Quality of Work & Life program features an array of health, safety and wellness initiatives, ranging from nutrition education sessions to injury prevention programs.
In its broadest sense, employee wellbeing includes career advancement and development, and here, too, Sunnybrook excels. It supports continuous learning, for instance, via in-house workshops and financial assistance for career-related continuing education. The Sunnybrook Leadership Institute invests in and helps build the organization's future leaders.
Marilyn Reddick, Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Development, notes that Sunnybrook also has an excellent record of promoting from within. "All jobs are posted internally before they are advertised," she says, adding that not all career-enhancing moves are necessarily upward. There were 978 lateral moves last year, affording staff the opportunity to learn a new job, obtain new skills and tackle new challenges.
Registered Nurse Sue Thorne has taken full advantage of the career opportunities that Sunnybrook provides. After starting work with only a diploma, she earned her nursing degree while working full-time. "Sunnybrook really encourages people to stay and grow here," she says. "They even provided some of the courses on site."
While Thorne has spent most of her 17 years at the hospital as a trauma nurse in the Emergency Department - which cares for the highest volume in Canada of the most severely injured patients - she knows firsthand the value of a lateral move. After spending a year in the Office of the Patient Experience, advocating on behalf of patients and their families, she returned to the E.D. with a fresh perspective, she says.
More recently, Thorne transferred to Sunnybrook's Infection Prevention and Control Program. With Canadian hospitals increasingly concerned about rising rates of antibiotic resistant organisms, or superbugs, it is challenging work on the front lines.
But when asked what she likes most about working at Sunnybrook, Thorne doesn't hesitate to reply: it's the team atmosphere. She attributes that, in part, to an infrastructure that facilitates collaboration among the various professionals who may care for any one patient.
It also stems from co-workers' shared vision and goals. Says Thorne: "It's very rewarding for us all to help someone who was critically ill or injured so they get to the point where they are well enough to leave us."
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)