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Winners see award as ‘validation that we’re doing the right thing’

At many award shows, writing a winning submission has almost turned into a scientific process.

That was never going to be the case at the very first Employee Recommended Workplace Awards, held on Wednesday in Toronto.

"We thought, why don't we go right to the people who can tell the story, directly to employees and ask their opinion on whether their work force is thriving?" said Randal Phillips, executive vice-president and chief client officer for Morneau Shepell, which is co-creator of the award with The Globe and Mail, and sponsored the inaugural event.

There were 32 finalists from across Canada that earned the distinction of being called an Employee Recommended Workplace based on the results of a survey taken by their employees that was based on four pillars of health: physical health, mental health, health in the workplace, and life health.

From those finalists, nine companies were celebrated for coming out on top based on their size and type of business.

"It shows we have an environment where people know that we are there for them, to support them throughout their work life and that's our ultimate goal," said Sheri Keffer, director of people and culture for Waterloo, Ont.-based Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. The institute won the mid-sized company category in the not-for-profit/government sector.

"We all benefit from the programs we do and being recognized by the employees is the best recognition."

That attitude was echoed by the representative team at Sklar Wilton & Associates, a Toronto-based consumer insights company. Already named by Great Places to Work as Canada's best workplace in the small business category for 2017, Sklar Wilton very much puts its employees at the forefront of its consideration in everything it does. In winning the Employee Recommended Workplace Award for being the top small employer in the private company category, its focus has clearly paid off.

"We knew intuitively this was the right thing to do because people are what we're all about," said Sarah Liverance, partner at Sklar Wilton. "We're not manufacturing widgets or anything like that. People are all we have and their intellectual power and their energy. So it was validation that we're doing the right thing."

For some companies, putting employees first is something they have always believed in, long before awards came into the picture. For those companies, that strategy also brings its own rewards, above and beyond improving employee satisfaction and production.

"[It] just really shows our employees how much they mean to us and how it means to Lomas to win the award because we really take pride in how we treat our employees and how our [staff] turnover is so incredibly low," said Candace Steinhaur, manager for human resources at L.V. Lomas. The Brampton, Ont.-based ingredients supplier won as the top mid-sized firm in the private sector category.

For some of the bigger companies, putting in place wide-reaching programs that can positively impact every member of staff isn't always the simplest task. But for any company, big or small, taking the time to do so can have a marked impact on everything from the bottom line to the reputation of the business.

For Nestlé Canada Inc., which took home the award for top large employer in the public company sector, putting an emphasis on workplace wellness is important, because health and wellness issues affect the individuals, their families, and ultimately, their work.

"Our executives, leaders, managers make a point to be available, to listen, to encourage new ideas and we want to continue to foster that ongoing relationship with our company to ensure that we grow forward," said Carl Jafrabad, director of compensation, pension and benefits at Nestlé Canada.

"Nestlé's been around for 150 years. We hope to be around for at least another 150 and this constant evolution keeps us moving forward."

Although the first year of the award has come to a close, organizations can register now for the second year of the Employee Recommended Workplace Award by going to the award website at employeerecommended.com

2017 Employee Recommended Workplace Award Winners

CategorySmall EmployersMid-sized EmployersLarge Employers
Private companySklar Wilton & AssociatesL.V. LomasKlick Inc.
Public companyNEBS PAYweb.caKillam Apartment REITNestlé Canada Inc.
Not-for-profit/governmentNew Brunswick Association for Community LivingPermieter Institute for Theoretical PhysicsCégep Garneau

Source: Employee Recommended Workplace Award

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