Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2017) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2017):
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences helps employees plan securely for the future with contributions to a defined benefit pension plan and retirement planning assistance -- the organization also offers phased-in work options to help employees transition
- 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 onsite daycare
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences maintains a formal staff recognition program to celebrate exceptional performance in a variety of fields including customer service, clinical and nursing excellence, teaching, and innovation and research -- employees are also encouraged to send inclusive messages of thanks to colleagues through the online "A World of Thanks" initiative
Sunnybrook has a healthy prescription for leadership
Fatima da Costa was having a crucial conversation. As coordinator of the Education Advisory Council at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, she works with education and professional leaders to ensure that the goals of the hospital's strategic plan for education are met and to organize the annual education conference.
Da Costa was in a work-related conversation with a colleague during which emotions ran high. To defuse the tension, da Costa drew upon the communications skills she learned at a course called Crucial Conversations.
"The discussion had a positive outcome," she says. "I think everyone at Sunnybrook would benefit from the course and learning how to handle a high-stakes conversation."
The course is one of 100 non-clinical offerings of the Sunnybrook Leadership Institute, which provides learning opportunities on how to be a Sunnybrook leader and a better manager in general. The courses or certificate programs are open to all emerging and existing leaders across the hospital's diverse workforce, including, among others, physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and social workers.
Says Dr. Andrew Smith, President & CEO: "You not only want to bring the best people onto your team but then provide opportunities for them to get better. What I am most proud of are our continuing-education efforts to bring our people together across professions."
"Health care is a team sport," he explains. "Especially at a hospital like ours, which takes care of some of the most acute, complex conditions -- like trauma, burns and strokes -- you have to nurture and grow people, but you have to do the same for teams. Most of our offerings seek to bring together a wide swath of our professionals and of staff in general."
The institute focuses on the development of three levels of leaders: emerging leaders -- not yet in a management position, but future leaders -- developing leaders -- who are already middle managers -- and advanced leaders -- who are usually at the director level and should be role models for others. Since 2014, over 11,000 staff and physicians have participated in the institute's workshops and programs.
"There are a variety of ways in which we present the learning," says Marilyn Reddick, Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development & Leadership. Some courses, such as Finance 101, which explores the intricacies of health-care budgeting, are created by in-house content experts.
Others are created in partnership with the York University and University of Toronto business schools and taught by their professors at Sunnybrook, while others, like Crucial Conversations, are licensed from proprietary providers and taught by Sunnybrook instructors.
"It is not about just taking a course," says Reddick. "It's about making what you learn part of your work day. Participants are asked to do an evaluation at the end of the course, and then again, six months later, to see whether it has translated into day-to-day leadership."
The institute offers nine programs, each comprising five to seven courses. Participants who complete a program receive a certificate. Da Costa, who has been with Sunnybrook only four years, has already earned two certificates. She joined 400 co-workers in a graduation ceremony in September.
In addition to the nine programs, there are numerous other educational sessions and just-in-time learning, depending on projects within the hospital.
"When people go to these courses," says Dr. Smith, "they not only benefit from the content but it's also a new way to interact with their colleagues across professions. They learn in unexpected ways just by being together in a different type of setting."
Sunnybrook makes wellness a priority for all
Working at a trauma, emergency and critical care hospital can be one of the most fulfilling jobs there is, but there are also times the staff just needs to decompress. Employees at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre are lucky enough to be able to do so right on site at their midtown Toronto location.
Sunnybrook, which houses Canada's first and largest regional trauma centre, is situated on nearly 100 acres of ravine parkland where employees can walk, run, ride a bike, or just get away from it all.
"We have beautiful grounds and access to the park system. People take advantage of it," says Ru Taggar, Vice President, Quality and Patient Safety, and Chief Nursing and Health Professions Executive. Like many of her colleagues, Taggar sometimes rides her bike to work. As part of a campaign to encourage employees to leave the car at home, Sunnybrook recently installed large secure bike cages at four separate locations on the campus.
Thanks partly to Sunnybrook's strong focus on wellness, many employees make it a point to work casual fitness into their daily routines by walking from building to building for meetings or opting to take the stairs when they can. On a big campus like Sunnybrook's, it's possible to rack up a lot of steps over the course of a working day or week. From one end of the Odette Cancer Centre to the other, a walk that can also be done underground, is a full half a kilometre.
Along with its main Bayview campus, Sunnybrook also includes St. John's Rehab Hospital, located on its own scenic grounds a few kilometres to the north, and the Holland Orthopaedic & Arthritic Centre downtown, which has easy access to public transit.
Taggar is an enthusiastic user of Sunnybrook's gym, which operates 24/7 to accommodate staff on different shifts. At the end of a long workday, instead of going home and crashing out on the couch in front of the TV, she often pays a visit to the gym. "It feels rejuvenating," she says, adding that afterwards she'll sometimes put in a bit more time at her desk before calling it a day. "I'm hearing more and more people are working the gym into their day-to-day lives."
Karen Fritz, a Human Resources Business Partner at Sunnybrook, is part of a group that recently helped give the gym "a bit of a facelift - there's new equipment and we reorganized the flow," she says. Fritz likes the premises so much that she'll often stop by on weekends to use the gym, which is free for employees.
Fritz has also been taking a yoga class on Wednesday afternoons for almost a decade. It's one of a number of programs on offer including Pilates, lunch hour fitness, and, more recently during the summer, Nordic pole walking. Wendy Morgan, Director of Occupational Health and Safety, was an early backer of pole walking, which is becoming more and more popular and has been shown to have many health benefits.
Just as employees have been able to arrange for better bike facilities, a gym makeover and new types of fitness courses, Morgan says, the same principles hold on the job at Sunnybrook, where senior leaders are quick to back good ideas. "One of the key things for me is there's always support," she says. "And collaboration - when you need somebody they're there."
Sunnybrook also has its own Leadership Institute dedicated to providing classroom and online learning opportunities for professional and personal development. Workshops and programs include Management Excellence, Foundations of Coaching, Effective Communication, and Crucial Conversations. Since 2011, more than 9,000 staff and physicians have participated in workshops and programs.
"Our employment promise is to be more at Sunnybrook," says Shamena Maharaj, Director, Human Resources, Organizational Development & Leadership.
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 9, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017):
- In partnership with the Toronto District School Board, Sunnybrook Health Sciences accepts up to 75 high school students annually as part of its Experiential Learning Co-Operative Program -- and also works with local high schools to offer a co-op/apprenticeship program in skilled trades within plant operations and building maintenance
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences hosts an annual Healthcare Student Career Fair with 22 interactive booths available for participants to speak with healthcare professionals -- and also hosted its first Education Expo to showcase learning products developed by Sunnybrook staff, including recognizing the contributions and expertise of students
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 20, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2017):
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences 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 4 shuttle buses with free rides for employees (and mounted bike racks) -- the hospital has repeatedly been recognized by Smart Commute as a "GOLD Workplace" for its focus on alternative transportation
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences employs two senior-level personnel who lead the evolution and implementation of the "Environmental Sustainability Policy", which encompasses five primary areas: energy and water conservation, waste management, transportation, procurement, and awareness and education
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences manages a number of enhanced waste management programs, from aggressive recycling and reuse programs to a unique anesthetic gas absorption technology that reduces the amount of waste gas released into the environment, a seemingly small initiative but equivalent to removing over 200 cars from the road