Top employer of the year competition kicks off for ’11

As the work force continues to shrink
due to the downturn in the economy with work permits reducing in their
thousands, there has never been a more vital time for Cayman’s employers to
showcase their businesses in a positive light in a bid to attract and retain
the best employees available, both locally and from overseas

Cayman’s Top
Employer of the Year initiative, led by the Cayman Islands Society of Human
Resource Professionals, permits the workforce to truly appreciate the best
companies to work for in the islands. Now in its second year, the competition
is presently taking applications to find Cayman’s Top Employer for 2011.

Cayman’s top employers for 2010 include
(in order of placement) Cayman National Bank, KPMG, HSBC, AON and Deloitte with
recruitment company CML taking the top spot for mid sized businesses. 

Ormond Williams, President of Cayman
National bank explains what the win meant for his organisation:

“In March 2010
Cayman National Bank was honored to be the first place recipient of the
inaugural Top Employer Award by CISHRP. 
We believe that this award validates all the strategies we have
implemented over the years to create an environment where staff feel excited to
work in and where they can excel at their careers.  The award has enhanced the pride staff have
in the organisation and will further engender the sense of family we are
endeavoring to create.  We have used the
award in marketing collateral and do intend to apply for the award in the

Stacey M. VanDevelde, Director, People,
Performance & Culture at KPMG says in keeping with the firm’s key business
priorities and ‘People First’ initiatives it was their aim to be successful in
the first ever Cayman Islands Top Employer competition.

“As a firm, we are continually working
to improve how we operate.  Being
measured against the Top Employer standard is an important step in that
improvement and identifies how well we work with our people to meet our
business aims and objectives,” she states.  

VanDevelde says KPMG has used the Top
Employer logo in all recruitment related materials (employment adverts, social
media networking sites, e-mail signatures) and in many other materials and
publications produced by the firm.

She believes that being placed in the
top five for 2010 made a great impact on the firm.

“Our employees remain very proud and
motivated by the receipt of this award. 
From a branding and employer of choice perspective this is an important
reinforcement tool. We will definitely apply again this year and encourage
other employer and organisations on island to do the same.”

Olive Gregory, Human Resources/Office
Manager with Aon says her firm is definitely considering entering this year’s
competition. “Our placing in the top five last year gave us an opportunity to
get an idea of how employees felt about working at Aon.  Also, we have been proud of the fact that we
could display the Top Employer logo on our correspondence.  We were even able to share the news with our
other Aon colleagues worldwide via our group’s intranet.”

Trust is the key

Amy Kropp, Corporate HR Director for
Baptist Health South Florida recently visited Cayman to help kick start next
year’s Top Employer of the Year competition. Her company is itself a top
employer: in 2010 Baptist Health was ranked number 32 on Fortune’s list; it has
been ranked on Fortune’s List for 10 years; was voted in the 100 Best Companies
for Working Mothers and is among the 100 Best Places to Work for in Healthcare
(according to Modern Healthcare magazine for 2008 and 2009).

She outlined what a top employer really
is: “At the heart of the definition of a top employer is a place where
employees trust the people they work with, have pride in what they do and enjoy
the people they work with.” 

She added that the premise is that a
great workplace is measured by the quality of three critical relationships:
between employees and management; employees and their jobs and employees and
other employees.

Why strive to become a top employer?

The benefits of a happy workforce for
the business as a whole are numerous, as Kropp pointed out that top employers
as a company typically perform better financially and are better prepared to
weather economic downturns.  Top
employers also generally receive more qualified job applications for open
positions because marketing a company as a top employer entices such
applicants, Kropp said.

“Your organisation is validated within
the community,” she confirmed.

Stability caused by having a consistent
workforce is another plus point if you are a top employer.

“Top employers are truly great places to
work, as determined by their own employees, which reduces their desire to work
elsewhere. Trust is nurtured in top organisations which aids in retention,” she

Because the top employer competition (in
Canada) highlights the benefits provided by competing firms across the board
these benefits tend to be very competitive and often top notch. As a result,
top employers engage in creative strategies to assist employees with work life
balance and healthy lifestyles – a win/win solution all round.

The net result of all this input by top
employers is that they benefit from higher productivity and profitability, as
Kropp explained: “Employees at top companies are more engaged in their work.  Engaged employees are more productive, which
increases profitability. As an example, with their 30 years of research on
employee engagement, the Gallup organisation estimates that actively disengaged
employees cost US companies more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone.”

But it’s not just the employers and the
employees who benefit from the relations. Top employers enjoy higher levels of
customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

“Employee engagement equals customer
satisfaction,” Kropp said, and quoted an example from her employer, Baptist
Health, the slogan of which is “We take care of our employees so they can take
care of you”.

The Canadian initiative

The CISHRP has worked closely with their
counterparts in Canada to ensure that the Cayman initiative ran along similar
lines, to ensure transparency and fairness and also in a bid to develop the
high regard locally that the Canadian initiative has developed over the years.

Tony Meehan, Publisher of Canada’s Top
100 Employers, with Mediacorp Canada Inc says that the Canadian Top Employer of
the Year initiative, which has been running for 11 years, has raised the bar
for employers in Canada because the reasons why Canada’s top employers have
been judged so are published for everyone to see.

“People see in black and white just what
makes a good employer. It has encouraged employers to offer better packages for
employees, such as longer vacation time, longer maternity leave, etc,” he
states. “Seeing all this information up front means employees can make informed
decisions before they decide to apply to work for a particular company.”

Dan Ondrack, Academic Director for
Executive Programmes at Rotman School of 
Management in Toronto, Canada and a judge for this and last year’s top
employer of the year says that attracting and retaining talent is particularly
important for a jurisdiction that suffers from a shortage of a skilled labour
force, such as the Cayman Islands. He also says that employers can benefit
financially from becoming a top employer: “They don’t have to pay top salaries
to attract the best employees.”

Ondrack says that a slow turnover of
staff is also cost efficient for companies: “Once a company takes on board a
new employee they have to invest in training them until they get up to speed.
If there is a low staff turnover that expense is minimised.”  

Meehan is quick to point out that the
Canadian top employer initiative actually focuses less on the “big ticket”
items and more on the small things that employers can do to make a difference
for the better within the work place that does not cost them money.

“We like to focus on the lessons that
can easily be followed, such as improving the work atmosphere, changing the
physical layout of the company, improving employee communication, ensuring that
employees get the opportunity to communicate feedback about their managers,
etc,” he states.

Who will become a top employer for 2011?

Top employers will have to show that
they embrace not only the value of their staff but also their customers and
their community. Phil Jackson, past President of the CISHRP who spearheaded the
first top employer initiative in Cayman last year furthers: “The initiative
seeks to recognise employers who are innovative, contribute to the community,
and are considered industry leaders in their management and people practices.”

Jackson adds: “Our goal is to make this
initiative transparent, fair, credible, and a rewarding experience for those
organisations that choose to participate. It is an opportunity to remind
employees of some of the things that make your workplace special and separates
your company from the rest.”  

He furthers that being a top employer
doesn’t necessarily mean the company pays the best salaries or provides the
coolest perks and benefits – it goes much further than that, he says. “It means
the majority of employees wake up in the morning and looks forward to going to
work each day.”



CISHRP President Samantha Nehra; Daniel McLean, Aon Risk Solutions; Amy Kropp, Baptist Health; Stacey VanDevelde, KPMG; Steve McIntosh, CML; Sarah Cowell, Partner KPMG and Carla McLaughlin HSBC
Basia Pioro-McGuire.