Top Employer goes to Cayman National

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After a nail biting lead up at the black tie awards ceremony held recently at the Marriott Beach Resort, Cayman National Bank was crowned Top Employer of the Year by the Cayman Islands Society of Human Resource Professionals. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull finds out why such an event is so important to business in Cayman and reports.
 
Attracting and retaining talent has become the goal of all savvy employers who are cognisant of the fact that a business goes nowhere without the very best people. As an organisation dedicated to promoting talent and directing it into the right organisation here in Cayman, the CISHRP decided last year that it would focus on highlighting Cayman’s best employers, congratulating them in an awards ceremony held in March.
 
The process
Phil Jackson, president of the CISHRP says the society underwent detailed research on the process: “We looked at similar schemes in the UK, the US and Canada to find out how Cayman’s Top Employer award should be developed. We created a committee comprising of myself, human resources consultant Glenda Davidowski and Philip Scott, head of the Investors in People initiative with the government’s Ministry of Education. We joined forces with overseas experts Dr. Dan Ondrack, professor of organisational behaviour at the Rotman School of Management in Ontario, Canada; and Sandy Asch acclaimed author and HR consultant from San Diego, who have both had extensive experience with top employer initiatives.”
 
Out of these discussions the CISHRP decided last year to invite employers to apply to become part of the initiative and Jackson says that the response was “not overwhelming but satisfactory for the first year”.        
 
In all just over 10 businesses took up the challenge, ranging from small to mid-sized companies with over 10 employees but less than 25, and large companies with 25 and above employees.
Employers were asked to complete an application form, which would then go on to make up 30 per cent of their overall marks, while employees were given a questionnaire to complete making up the remaining 70 per cent of the company’s total marks.
 
Jackson says that the two overseas experts judged the competition, bringing with them their years of experience and impartiality and transparency that was crucial to the integrity of the competition.
 
“Through the measurements of employees’ relationships with management, their jobs and other employees, the experts were able to gauge which employer truly deserved to be awarded Cayman’s Top Employer,” he confirms. “They also looked at nine key criteria [see sidebar] within each organisation to properly establish the winning organisation.”
 
A significant business advantage: but no jerks or tyrants allowed
On the night Ondrack gave an illuminating presentation explaining why such recognition for organisations was important for the growth of business. He explained that the best organisations attract the best talent, which adds value to the company.
 
“Others will always just be average,” he said. “Best employers on the other hand will be market leaders.”
 
Intrinsic to the top employer tag is not only the best employees but the best management as well.
 
“Organisations need to look at their management to see if they are leaders and coaches or tyrants and jerks!” he said. “Some companies work really hard at attracting the very best staff and then send them to work for jerks and tyrants, which means they do not last very long within the organisation.”
Ondrack said such managers who did not understand the first thing about how to properly manage were merely supplying the company’s talent to its
competitors.
Successful companies recognise that an individual’s employment means different things to different people and were therefore able to attract the right people for the right jobs. Ondrack said that different people had different career goals and he highlighted those who were happy simply to be employed, whereas some people had more ambitious intentions.
 
He discussed a specific case study in Ontario, Canada, whereby the Attorney General’s office was keen to attract lawyers to its department, competing with top graduates all keen to carve themselves a career in Ontario’s Bay Street (the equivalent of New York’s Wall Street or London’s Square Mile).
 
“They could not compete on the salary so they thought creatively, offering civil service salaries that were respectable enough but they also offered less hours and less pressure and the chance for the lawyers to actually practice law,” he explained. “There was no need for them to work for tyrants (as senior partners in top law firms can often be) and provided incentives in particular for women because of the lack of constant pressure to bring in the big bucks. The work was interesting and for the public good. They offered a great lifestyle choice instead of becoming a slave to a practice and were therefore successful in attracting and retaining the best and the brightest.”
 
Cayman’s top employers
In the large business category Cayman National Bank was ultimately voted Cayman’s top employer, followed by KPMG in second place, HSBC in third, AON fourth and Deloitte fifth. In the small to medium category (of which there were only two entrants) recruitment company CML took the top spot.
 
“We want to expand the competition next year so that many more companies take part,” Jackson confirms. “In the end we would love to highlight Cayman’s top 25 or even 50 employers, while always focussing specifically on the top five, because it takes a good deal of effort to reach the top spot.”
 
Jackson also noted that the CISHRP received applications from financial services companies in the main yet they are looking to diversify next year.
 
“The competition is open to any businesses in Cayman with 10 or more employees so we hope to get a far greater range of industries competing next year,” he says.
 
Ondrack sums up the importance of attaining such status: “As a winner in the Top Employer Award expect your business model to be copied by your peers,” he said. “You will be setting the benchmark of standards that other will want to emulate.”

Read interviews with Cayman’s Top Employers in next month’s Journal.

Cayman

Cayman National Bank is Cayman’s Top Employer. Staff members, from left, Karen Forbes; James Ebanks; Merrell McCann; Dorette Brown; Judy Watler, longest serving staff member; Ellen Eden; Gianna Bryan, award recipient; Ormond Williams, president; and Peter Tomkins, founder and director.

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