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 (2017) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2017):
- 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."
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