Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 6, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Ontario Dental Association, The was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
- Ontario Dental Association provides maternity and parental leave top-up payments to employees who are new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents (to 80% of salary for up to 27 weeks) and offers the option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence
- Along with a variety of alternative working arrangements, Ontario Dental Association helps employees balance personal and professional commitments with 5 paid personal days off, which can be used at employees' discretion
- Ontario Dental Association celebrates exceptional performance with a number of recognition awards, including the Impact Award for employees who want to improve the organization beyond their position and department, the Leadership Award, and the CEO Award for outstanding performance
The ODA has wellness policies with teeth
When a friend told Richard Pita about a job opening at the Ontario Dental Association (ODA), he knew in general terms what it offered: "A positive work environment, opportunities for professional growth and a solid support system for employees," he says. "But I didn't know much more than that until I started working here."
He discovered more than he'd expected at the ODA's mid-town Toronto office: cardio machines in the staff lounge; a meditation space; a ping pong table; free fruit and vegetables on Wellness Wednesdays; a washroom with a shower "for those of us who cycle to work".
"We try to encourage healthy habits in our employees," says Frank Bevilacqua, the organization's CEO. "If you're not healthy or don't feel good, you're not going to be happy or productive."
Healthy employees help to reinforce the ODA's mission of promoting oral health in the province. Representing more than 9,000 dentists in Ontario, the ODA's 55 staff members deliver a range of services, including practice-management tools, advocacy and continuing education.
"We serve both the profession and its patients," says Bevilacqua, who has worked for the ODA since 1991. "We not only represent about 90 per cent of the dentists in Ontario, we're also part of a larger mission to help people attain and maintain the best possible oral health that they can."
Founded in 1867, the ODA also publishes a journal for the profession 10 times a year, sponsors one of Canada's largest annual dental conventions, offers webinars and e-learning sessions, and administers health care, insurance and investment programs for its members.
As Program Coordinator for Member Education, Pita dived right in to the ODA's dynamic workplace. From booking session rooms to lining up speakers, he helped to organize regional continuing education sessions on topics such as buying and selling a dental practice.
He also applied his experience in managing steering committees, organizing educational events and online programs and budgeting as part of a small team setting up a symposium for new dentists. Held in October, the event took more than a year to plan and organize. It included eight speakers with expertise in clinical and practice management as well as a roundtable exchange and several social events.
Working with other ODA staff members, Pita quickly learned about the association's initiatives involving economics, education, health policy, government relations and membership services.
"A lot of our projects enable individuals to show leadership, hone their management skills and perform tasks they may not normally do in their day-to-day job," says Bevilacqua. "We have an open, family-like environment that makes people want to come here."
At the same time as Pita went to work on organizing educational programs, he also became involved in the ODA's internal staff initiatives. He became co-chair of the social committee, joined the health and safety committee, served as deputy fire warden in the association's building and organized the staff ping pong tournament.
"I've had opportunities here to go above and beyond my role," he says. "We have an incredibly collegial culture here."
The enthusiasm has been mutual. As much as Pita has invested in the ODA, the association has invested in him. It covered the cost of Pita's courses at the University of Toronto, for example, enabling him to earn his Certificate in Project Management this year.
"I've also been encouraged to take more courses to improve my skills and experience," he says. "Knowing that the ODA will invest in me makes me feel like I have a solid future here. It's a place where I'd like to stay."