Scotiabank and SteppingStones took top honours in their business size categories at the 2013 Top Employer Awards and can now boast being one of the Best Places to Work in the Cayman Islands.
Six other companies also attained the standard, which is an initiative of the non-profit Cayman Islands Society of Human Resources Professionals organisation.
Joining Scotiabank in the Large Employer Category as Top Employers were dms, KPMG and Aon. In addition to SteppingStones, others recognised as Top Employers in the Small/Medium Employer Category were CML Offshore Recruitment, BDO and Smile Dental Clinic. It was the first time that Smile Dental Clinic has attained the Top Employer standard. All of the other companies had attained it at least once before, with KPMG, Aon and CML having attained it all four years since the initiative was launched.
Top Employer Award
The Society launched the Top Employer Award initiative in the autumn of 2009 and issued the standard to six companies in its inaugural gala dinner event in March 2010.
The award was a key initiative of former society president Phil Jackson, who still heads the Top Employer Award committee and served as the co-emcee of the 2013 event along with Tasha Ebanks-Garcia.
“The Top Employer Award is an initiative to determine who are Cayman’s top employers and best places to work,” he told the attendees of the event, adding that the award really showcased the employers “that go above and beyond” in creating a good working environment for their employees.
Jackson said that this year’s Top Employer Award allows recipients to use the initiative’s new logo on its website and correspondence.
“The new logo says the recipient is one of the best places to work in the Cayman Islands and more identifies what we’re trying to get across to the public,” he said.
Director of Labour and Pension Mario Ebanks praised Jackson for launching the initiative.
“As a founding member and past president of the society, I have also had a long-lasting passion in the area of workplace and workforce excellence,” he said. “Over the years we have embarked on various initiatives, however the Top Employer Awards is certainly the Society’s flagship and pinnacle thus far.”
Ebanks also addressed a theme that would be revisited by keynote speaker Judy Cohrs later in the evening: That being a top employer is not just good for employees, it’s good for the bottom line of business.
“Because the Cayman Islands economy is one based on the delivery of cutting-edge services, it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that our workplaces are tranquil, productive, safe and efficient,” he said. “There is significant amount of data evidence and case studies, which show the positive return on investment when organisations embrace these types of programmes, which engage the employees and allow best practices to become part of the organisation’s culture and DNA.”
In order to attain the Top Employer standard, employers first fill out an application form, Jackson said. There are two categories of companies; large employers with 50 or more employees and small-to-medium sized employers with 10 to 49 employees.
Thirty per cent of a company’s score comes from its responses on the application form and the other 70 per cent comes from the results of a confidential survey that is sent to all of the company’s employees and must be completed by at least half of them. Employers are later shown the combined results of the surveys, but not of any individual survey.
Jackson said the responses to the survey give employers a chance to see “the good, the bad and the ugly” with respect to how their employees view them.
“Each application is being scored based on nine specific criteria or dimensions including physical environment; work atmosphere and camaraderie; compensation and benefits; management practice; employee communications; performance management; learning and career development; community involvement; and diversity,” said Jackson.
The applications are scored by a panel of three overseas judges. All businesses that score at least 75 points out of 100 on their application are awarded the Top Employer standard.
The keynote speaker for the event was Judy Cohrs, a career and executive coach and a member of the adjunct faculty at National University in San Diego, California.
Cohrs praised the Human Resources Society for launching an award that recognised top employers. She spoke about what it takes to become an employer of choice.
“It’s really about creating a good place to work where people are happy, where they are engaged and where they’re doing their best,” she said, adding that companies that do that also get better results.
She said stock market results from 1997 to 2012 of companies listed as one of the Fortune 100 best companies showed a 10.80 per cent return, more than double that of S&P 500 companies.
“It allows them to retain and hold that top talent for long periods of time and there are big payoffs in doing that,” she said.
Cohrs said the companies have to change their approach to employees to meet the changing workplace environment in terms of factors like global forces, technology and demographics. One example she cited was that people are now working longer in life, past traditional retirement age, but they may only want to work part time or want to take sabbaticals, so employers have to be flexible.
When deeming a place a great place to work, employees often cite the same qualities, including credibility, respect, fairness, pride and camaraderie, the first three of which foster trust in the workplace.
“Trust is the key in a best place to work organisation,” she said, noting that the word trust comes up time and time again when people are asked what makes their company a best place to work.
“Employees want to trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do and have camaraderie with the people they work with.”
Looking at some of the trends of Fortune 100 Best Companies, Cohrs said many are establishing wellness programmes that involve the whole family.
“They’re trying to keep people well and save money in the end,” she said.
Other trends include a focus on professional development, including career road mapping, leadership development, and diversity development.
Cohrs said the model of creating an employer of choice is different for every company, but that businesses should start where their strengths are and expand out from there.
She recommended that businesses start with a pilot programme first.
“All of this takes a strategic plan and… a lot of work, but it’s so worth the investment.”