Cayman all about human capital

Getting the word out about what makes certain companies such great places to work has been the goal of Canadian publisher Anthony Meehan of Media Corp for the past 12 years. He visited Cayman recently as the guest speaker at the Cayman Islands Society for HR Professionals Top Employer of the Year award and explained that this type of competition, now in its second year here in Cayman, could only improve the quality of life for workers.

Anthony Meehan began Canada’s top 100 companies competition 12 years ago and from that he has developed a variety of similar projects, each targeting specific demographics within Canadian society, such as younger people, older people as well as 11 regional competitions.

From these competitions, his team of writers then produces thousands of words written about the top companies, explaining exactly why they were chosen for the top positioning.

Having first published the results in a printed format, Meehan says he turned to an electronic format four years ago, in response to demand by readers.

He explained that newspapers across the country then take the editorial content that his team produces and run with it, thus further spreading the news about Canada’s top employers. Meehan said that around 13 million readers are reached in this way, which equates to around half Canada’s adult population.

Canada’s top employer competition takes in eight specific criteria, which, he said, ran on very similar lines to the Cayman competition’s nine criteria.

“We look at the physical work place – in particular simple ways in which employers can make the workplace accommodating. It’s not just about disability access, but also things that don’t cost very much, such as employees access to windows and light,” he explained.

Work atmosphere was also an important factor and the Canadian judges looked at the opportunities an employee might have to make friendships at work.

Financial and health benefits were important to employees and even though they varied widely across Canada, Meehan said that the top employer competition raised the bar in this area in a general way.

Having sufficient vacation time off was another big motivating factor for improving an employee’s quality of life, he confirmed.

“Studies have shown that this is actually the number one factor in deciding as to whether to join a company,” he stated.

Employer communications and performance management were also important criteria to be assessed, as well as training and development opportunities for staff.

Meehan analysed the advantages and disadvantages for a company to become involved in such a competition. On the negative side, he found that there was certainly an amount of time required to be devoted to making an application. He also found that some firms didn’t like sharing their best practices, for fear of giving away their competitive edge. On the plus side, it generated a culture of improvement, it was found to improve industry standing, there was better employee engagement, turnover costs were reduced and better applicants were attracted to businesses which took part in the competition.

Creating a competition whereby employers pit themselves against fellow companies in a bid to highlight who’s best to work for can only build a better Cayman, according to Meehan.

“You have a unique economy here,” he said, “which is particularly susceptible to economies in other countries. Having a top employer competition dramatically increases competition among employers and that is good for the country.”

Social fault lines were inherent in any country, he went on to say, and competitions such as this provoked lots of discussion to remediate these issues.

“I would suggest that Canada’s social fault line lies with its language; America’s lies with race; the UK’s with class and the Cayman Islands with relations between ex-pats and Caymanians,” he stated. “Democracy alone cannot create society; it’s the thousands of other details which make an inclusive society which create the building blocks of society.”

The top employer competition, he said, gives the country the chance to raise the standards for all employees.

“Human capital will continue to drive improvements in living standards,” he confirmed, stating that Cayman in particular could teach the rest of the world about the importance of human capital.

“Human capital is the entire country,” he said.