Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 6, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, The was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
- The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario offers referral bonuses as an incentive for employees to act as recruiters, providing up to $1,500 per successful hire
- The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario invests in ongoing employee development with generous tuition subsidies for courses taken at outside institutions (to $3,000) and subsidies for professional accreditation
- In order to help employees prioritize their health and wellness, the College of Physicians and Surgeons created a formal wellness program that includes subsidized onsite yoga, pilates and fitness classes, monthly wellness newsletters and workshops, and an annual onsite wellness fair
Healthy values at the College of Physicians and Surgeons
A pineapple cake fetched a record $320 earlier this year at the annual staff charity auction held by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons. And despite that regal price, the cake was just family-sized.
Employees at the College's central Toronto offices spend weeks preparing for the yearly event, testing recipes and decorations. During the auction itself, they engage in bidding strategies to drive up the price so the staff-designated charity receives the maximum benefit. This year, the College provided Toronto's Good Foot Delivery, a delivery service employing people with disabilities, a cheque for $1,751.15 from the auction proceeds alone.
Some 300 people, three-quarters of the entire staff, typically turn out for the cake auction. Newly minted College Registrar and CEO Nancy Whitmore attended for the first time and was bowled over by the enthusiasm.
"It demonstrates a level of engagement and keenness that's rare in workplaces," says Whitmore, who was CEO at one regional hospital and worked in others, both as an administrator and a practising obstetrician/ gynecologist, before joining the College in June. "It also shows how committed the staff is to our mandate of serving the public. Our job is to regulate medical practice in the public interest, and our employees' dedication to connecting with the community through charitable activities reinforces that mission."
In addition to participating in office fundraisers such as the cake auction, employees get up to two days off annually, with pay, to devote to charitable activities of their choosing.
The cake auction is not the College's only staff-driven activity. Even establishing critical organizational values such as accountability, trust and wellness come from the employees themselves, rather than being set by a board of directors or senior management. "If the values are embraced from the bottom up, management does not have to do a selling job," Whitmore says. "And, clearly, the buy-in is that much stronger."
Another College corporate value is a dedication to life-long learning. "We have a highly educated staff constantly seeking to learn more and develop their skills," says Whitmore. They are encouraged to take on new challenges and responsibilities, helped along with tuition subsidies of up to $3,000 annually.
Meanwhile, the College's commitment to its wellness value is manifested in many ways. Subsidized meditation, yoga and Pilates classes are offered on site. Health insurance premiums are covered, 100 per cent. There is flexibility in hours worked and whether the work happens at home or at the office. Says Whitmore: "If you trust employees to get the work done, they will get it done. And their physical health and well-being is essential to work-life balance, a balance that's essential to keeping people happy and productive at work."
The formula seems to be working.
Turnover is low and someone like Natalie Novak, who has been with the College for seven years, considers herself a "newbie." Says Novak: "Before I joined the College, I would stay in a job for three to five years. Here, I have not been tempted to leave. Our work supports the public, and the College supports us. Not many other organizations encourage and back you to grow professionally while also caring for your personal well-being."
Before applying to the College, Novak did a background check on the organization. She turned first to the annual Top Employers list to see if the College had made it. "I was delighted to not only find it on the list," she says, "but that it ticked off all my boxes: work-life balance, long-term learning, benefits, retirement planning, community engagement."
She adds: "The entire package also aligned with my personal values. The College is a place that gives you something to believe in when you wake up in the morning. It always lives up to its promise. Otherwise, I wouldn't still be here."