Marriott Beach Resort, CML take top spots at Top Employer Awards

Cayman’s top employers were honored last month at the fifth annual Top Employer Awards ceremony, with the Marriott Beach Resort being named as Cayman’s Top Employer in the large employer category, the first time the resort had entered the competition, and CML Offshore again taking the top spot in the small/medium employer category.   

Winners are also recognized as the Best Places to Work in the Cayman Islands. 

The annual Top Employer Awards is an initiative devised by the Cayman Islands Society of Human Resource Professionals. Its first awards ceremony was held in 2010 with the aim of making the Cayman Islands a better place to work, thereby improving business practices across the island and ultimately making the jurisdiction a more attractive place for inward investment. 

This year’s gala at the Marriott Beach Resort on May 24 welcomed Speaker Hall of Fame motivational speaker Steven Gilliland, who delivered his award-winning presentation “Making a Difference” to the assembled guests. 


New entrants, diverse backgrounds  

Phil Jackson, program adviser and former CISHRP president, has been the chief proponent of the Top Employer Awards competition since inception. He said the CISHRP was extremely pleased with the quality of the applications this year and the fact there was such a diversity of organizations that put themselves through the process. The competition is open to all private, public and nonprofit organizations, both large and small. 

“For the first time, we had two organizations from the hospitality industry and one department from the civil service,” he said. “There are a lot of great organizations to work for in Cayman, and it is our aim to highlight the great things they are doing.” 

Jackson highlighted why the Top Employers were chosen: 

“While some organizations may pump a lot of money into the community to achieve Top Employer status, it goes beyond that,” he says. “We want evidence that the majority of employees enjoy going to work each day, that there is mutual respect, trust, and camaraderie in the workplace.” 

This year 10 organizations were recognized for having met the criteria and standards of being a Top Employer, Jackson explained. To achieve Top Employer status, each organization had to submit an application, and confidential surveys were sent to their employees.  

Independent judges reviewed and scored the application and survey and the organization had to achieve a combined average score of 70 points or more to attain the status.  

Top Employer Award applicants are scored on nine different dimensions relating to the workplace environment: the physical environment; work atmosphere and camaraderie; compensation and benefits; management practice; employee communications; performance management; learning and development; community involvement and diversity.  

The judging is undertaken by three overseas judges with experience in similar programs in the United States and Canada. 

Amy Kropp, corporate HR director for Baptist Health South Florida, was a judge. Her company is itself a top employer: in 2013 Baptist Health was ranked number 76 on Fortune’s top 100 companies to work for and 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, 2010 and 2011). She said the employee surveys were all very good and the human interest stories and community involvement were fantastic, making the difference in scoring very tough. 

Kropp said that 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, adding 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. 


The winners  

In total, 521 surveys were received from 10 different organizations. To be eligible for recognition as a Top Employer, at least half of a company’s workforce has to participate in the survey. 


Large employer category  

In the large employer, the Marriott Beach Resort took first place. From that organization’s surveys, 99 percent responded that they were proud to be part of the organization, 90 percent agreed or strongly agreed they looked forward to going to work each day and comments included that they felt this way because staff felt valued as individuals and professionals and their ideas were taken into consideration.  

Valarie Hoppe, the Marriott’s assistant director of human resources, said 160 employees responded to the survey, which was a feat in itself. 

“Generally, it’s hard to get 160 people to all say fantastic things about an organization, so we are delighted with this achievement,” she said, adding that Marriott staff are used to being surveyed as the resort conducts its own survey among its staff annually. 

Hoppe said the resort decided to become part of the Top Employer Awards competition because they saw the initiative as an excellent way to encourage more Caymanians to work there. 

“We felt it was important to increase the number of Caymanians in the resort and thought that the accolade of Top Employer was a fantastic way for us to promote our organization locally as a great place to work,” she explained. “Additionally, the Marriott is a four diamond hotel and initiatives such as this help us to retain our high standards.”  

DMS came second, with comments from their surveys that included that the firm is “just a great environment in which to work.” At DMS, staff felt they were offered many opportunities to grow and felt exceptionally lucky to be part of such an amazing organization. 

KPMG took the third spot in the large employer category. Staff said employees liked an organization such as the firm that took their opinions and ideas into consideration, there was continuous feedback and a high performance culture and there was a strong camaraderie that was “next to none.” 

Kevin Lloyd, managing partner at KPMG said the firm has been recognized by CISHRP as a Top Employer and one of the Best Places to Work in the Cayman Islands since 2010, having been ranked among the top three finalists each year, and taking top honors in 2012.  

KPMG was also recognized as the first organization in the Cayman Islands and in the Caribbean to achieve the Investors in People standard in 2004, and most recently earned the highest Investors in People Gold recognition in 2013. 

“The firm values feedback it receives through participation in the Top Employer initiative,” Lloyd explained. “The employee survey empowers our people to have a voice, and provides our firm with invaluable insight, which in turn helps us to engage in conversations as we work together to develop and shape the future of our firm. … These awards continue to help us recruit and retain the best people and win and retain top clients.  

“Organizations succeed by investing in their people,” Lloyd said.  

At Scotiabank, which took fourth place, staff said employees and management get along “like one happy family,” everyone is given a fair chance to succeed and excel and they feel their bank has a strategic commitment to develop people and leadership. 

Red Sail Sports was awarded fifth place. Staff said in particular that their manager was supportive and that they enjoyed teamwork with co-workers and management. 


Small/medium employer category  

In the small/medium employer category, CML Offshore took the top spot, which means five consecutive wins for the recruitment agency. Some 71 percent of its employees strongly agreed they looked forward to going to work each day and 100 percent of employees were proud to be part of the CML team, praising the firm’s open and friendly work environment, the fact that they felt their leadership believed in them and that the culture was open, inclusive and supportive. 

Steve McIntosh, CEO of CML Offshore Recruitment, said that winning the top spot in the Top Employer awards was genuinely one of the high points of his entire career.  

“It was always my goal to build a company that people are proud to be a part of, and want to be a part of, and the Top Employer has given us a way to objectively measure that, which is invaluable,” he said. “I have to say that a lot of the credit should go to Vice President Chris Bailey and recruitment consultant Louise Reed. I think we work very well together as a management team and they have worked very hard in recent years to ensure our success. Of course, it’s also testament to our entire team of people. Across all of our business lines, IT, financial services, legal, admin and secretarial, immigration, CML TV, we have nothing but great people firing on all cylinders.” 

Recruitment consultants Baraud were awarded second place in the same category, with staff commenting on the organization’s “open door policy,” noting that their work/life balance was “excellent” and that Baraud put a strong focus on the needs of their staff, candidates and clients. 

BDO came third. Staff said they enjoyed a warm, friendly environment, a great work/life balance and celebrated the firm’s “good people and great management.” 

For the first time, a government department, the Ministry of Home Affairs, entered the Top Employer Awards competition, taking fourth place. Staff said there is great camaraderie and teamwork within the department, which supports their career growth. Staff within the department display respect and understanding and co-workers are easy to get along with. 

“Being officially recognized as a Top employer winner gives BDO an edge over others in terms of attracting and retaining good employees,” said Glen Trenouth, partner. “For new recruits especially, the title can help reaffirm their decision on joining BDO and it also shows our commitment to our employees.” 

Geoff Johnson, senior manager, said,“The partners really listen to all the employees and care for their well-being. BDO develops their employees and empowers them to come up with suggestions for a better place to work and invest their efforts into making the office healthy, friendly and comfortable for their people.”  

The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands was awarded fifth place. Staff felt the organization had a “great mission, great people and great management” and the gallery was “committed to growth.”  

Cayman’s top civil servant, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, has long been a supporter of the Top Employer Awards competition. 

“The award gives employers an excellent opportunity to showcase both their success in creating an excellent workplace for their employees and being a good corporate citizen,” he said. “Employees also benefit from the award scheme as they are provided an opportunity to give confidential feedback about their satisfaction in the workplace. This is an important part of the process and fosters better working relationships.  

“I offer my sincere congratulations to all the winners!” 


KPMG’s Kevin Lloyd and Sarah Cowell with Phil Jackson.


The Marriott team, on top of their game.


The Marriott team, from left, Bryan McLaughlin, Andrew Dear, Lee Parry, Amy Boraston, James Stephen, Valerie Hoppe, Sergio Sosa, Sonia Collazos, Lulu Segura and Laura Skec.


The Ministry of Home Affairs, the first government department to enter the competition, took fourth in the small/medium employer category. From left: Kathryn Dinspel-Powell, Tiffany Ebanks, Elorine Woods, Allyson Minus-Phillips, Eric Bush, Briana Ebanks, Lynette George and Tristaca Ebanks