Top Employer honors and excellence in human resources

Acknowledged as two of the best organizations in which to work in the Cayman Islands, Scotiabank and recruitment and personnel specialists Baraud recently took Top Employer honors for 2015 in the large employer and small/medium employer categories, respectively.  

The accolades were bestowed at a gala on May 23 at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, produced by the Cayman Islands Society of Human Resources Professionals (CISHRP). And for the first time, a slew of companies were also awarded new accolades, all designed to highlight human resources departments which represent the highest order of excellence on island.  

Another new award went to the best young and upcoming human resources specialist. 



This year, competition in the large employer (more than 50 employees) category was fierce, with Scotiabank (the 2013 and 2011 winners) coming out on top with the highest scores in all categories.

Second place went to last year’s winners, the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, and third place went to 2012 winners KPMG.  

Fourth place was claimed by dms, fifth was won by law firm Conyers, Dill & Pearman, and sixth place went to newcomers to the Top Employer awards, corporate and fund services specialists Elian. Since each of these organizations earned a significantly high number of points from the judges, each is now eligible to market themselves as a Top Employer. 

Similarly, there was serious competition from previous top winners in the small/medium category (organizations with fewer than 50 employees). Last year Baraud came second to CML Offshore Recruitment, but this year the tables were turned and Baraud narrowly won over CML.  

The winner in 2012, BDO, came in third this year, and the only government entity entry, the Ministry of Home Affairs, took fourth place. The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, 2011 winner, came in fifth.  

As in the large organization category, each of these entities was honored as a Top Employer, taking home a trophy and bragging rights as well.  


Excellence in HR  

This year, for the first time, the ceremony also honored professionals in Cayman’s human resources industry, with a new set of awards called CAHRE (CISHRP Awards for Human Resources Excellence).

These were broken down into five categories and trophies were presented by CISHRP president Sheena Ebanks.  

The Best Training Program went to the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, and KPMG took home the honors for the Best Community and Corporate Responsibility Initiative. The Best Wellness Program was won by dms, and Walkers was awarded top place for Excellence in Talent Management and Retention.  

There was also a special award for the HR Young Talent of the Year, which went to dms Talent Specialist Janelle Muttoo, who particularly stood out for the judges because of her impressive leadership qualities.  

Employee engagement   

This is the sixth year for the Top Employer awards gala, an event that offers employees the opportunity to highlight all the areas in which their organization excels. Following submission of an application by the organization to the judging board, employees are then required to complete a confidential survey.  

The organization is subsequently dissected from all angles by the judges, who look at the company’s physical environment, work atmosphere and camaraderie, compensation and benefits and management practice, among other areas. Those that make the grade are deemed some of the best places to work.  

More than half of an organization’s employees must respond to the survey request in order for the organization to be eligible for the Top Employer award. Thirty percent of the marks come from the employer’s application and 70 percent from the employees’ survey results. Only the organizations that receive a high enough number of points are eligible to call themselves a Top Employer.  



To ensure fair judging, all the evaluating was undertaken by independent experts, all based overseas. The judges were: U.K.-based Roger Newman, from Investors in People International; Amy Kropp, vice president of Human Resources at Tulite Aliminum & Glass in Deerfield Beach, Florida; and Judy Cohrs, a career and executive coach and a member of the adjunct faculty at National University in San Diego, California, who has been a keynote speaker at the Top Employer awards. 

Both the application and survey information are held in strict confidence and independence, and while the CISHRP board oversees the gala, it does not view applications or the scores.  

In a video presentation, Newman, described as an expert in whether organizations are truly investors in people, said that what struck him in particular about the entrants in this year’s awards was the organizations’ engagement with the wider community via their charity work. 

“Some of the examples of the way in which they support the community are absolutely inspirational,” he said, adding that they were inspirational not only to other entities in the Cayman Islands, but also globally.  

Cohrs said that for her, a great place to work does not mean just happy employees; it also means a positive impact on the bottom line. This was underscored when she advised that stock market results from 1997 to 2012 of companies listed among the Fortune 100 showed a 10.80 percent return, more than double that of S&P 500 companies.  

When employees are happy in their work, she said, companies can retain their talent for a long time, with profits rising as a result. 


Top Employer benefits  

Phil Jackson, past president of CISHRP who spearheaded the first Top Employer initiative in Cayman in 2010, said that winning the honor gives an organization multiple benefits both locally and internationally. 

“For companies looking to recruit overseas, having the Top Employer logo attached to their name gives them instant brand recognition,” he said.  

“This is one reason why companies have supported the event from the very beginning. But it goes way beyond that; it also gives their staff a great sense of pride to be recognized in this way.” 

This year Top Employer recipients will receive a full and detailed report from the judges, including feedback from the employee survey as an added benefit, Jackson said. 

He said he was pleased how the event has grown over the years, and that he recognizes the important work that companies such as those which entered the Top Employer event were doing in order to ensure a happy workforce. He said that if an individual isn’t engaged or happy at work, it affects his or her entire life. 

“The workplace is a very important part of our lives,” he said. “That’s why the Top Employer awards is all about recognizing and celebrating excellence in the workplace.” 

Mario Ebanks, director of the Department of Labour and Pensions, said the awards help establish a standard for measuring best practices in employee/employer relations. 

“It rewards those organizations that invest in creating a work environment that is cordial and productive and sensitive to various cultures and personalities within our diverse economy,” he said.  

Ebanks particularly likes the way the Top Employee awards are structured, giving employees the opportunity to speak freely about their employer. 

“By making employees part of the process, it increases the objective outcomes,” he said.  

He added that in his role as a regulator, any element of self-policing through programs such as Top Employer is beneficial for business. 

“It’s all about raising the levels of proficiency which helps businesses to regulate themselves,” he said.  

Lois Kellyman, the first president of CISHRP who is now the manager of employment services with the government’s National Workforce Development Agency, said that the criteria an organization must satisfy in order to participate in the awards “helped to make the organization a nicer place to work.” 

“When you come to work, you want an environment that is pleasant and conducive to productivity,” she said. “We spend a great deal of our time at work, so it really helps to be in a place you like. It helps productivity and helps people feel more satisfied. The companies participating in the Top Employer awards are progressive and forward thinking, providing a caring attitude for employees.”  


Motivational keynote address  

Darrell “Coach D” Andrews, an internationally acclaimed motivational strategist, speaker, accountability coach and author entertained the audience with motivational thoughts sprinkled with humor and strategy. His motto is “Motivation without information is simply a good conversation.”  

Having worked with some of the largest organizations in the world, including Wal-Mart, Verizon and First Data, Andrews encouraged response from the audience while presenting insight into his soon-to-be released latest book, “Teamwork That Makes The Dreamwork (The Power of Organizational Core Values).” 

He believes that the most powerful aspect in an organization is the team. In addition, “perception” and “passion” are the two most powerful words for any entity, he said. 

Perception is the fundamental building block for just about everything, and when employees have perception, it drives the outcomes they produce, he stated.  

“A person’s perception is ultimately their reality,” he said.  

The key, he said, is to bring each employees’ perception of the business under one umbrella.  

Additionally, he said, “Passion lights the fuel of creativity. You can change the world, but you’ve got to have passion.”  

Finally, he noted, “When an organization has a team who knows that when they get together nothing is going to stop them, something amazing happens. 

“Everyone on the team is important,” he said. 


Phil Jackson, Lois Kellyman and Mario Ebanks – PHOTOS: LINDSEY TURNBULL


Motivational speaker Darrell “Coach D” Andrews with Phil Jackson


Scotiabank employees


Baraud award winners