Healthy and happy

Many of the Best Employers offer on-site fitness centres
Erica Alini
Healthy and happy

AON Hewitt - Best Employers in Canada

A positive work culture is one in which “people feel valued and respected,” and where employers “see you as a human being and not just someone who’s there to do a job,” says Hazel Rosin, professor of organization studies at York University’s Schulich School of Business. At GlaxoSmithKline Inc., the Mississauga, Ont.-based pharmaceutical company, ways of showing the love include free yoga and cycling classes, as well as access to a nutritionist, and healthy food choices on both the cafeteria’s menu and in the snack bowls offered during meetings. It all helps to improve the bottom line, according to Savino DiPasquale, vice-president for business development and chief information officer. “If you have healthy employees,” he says, “they have more energy to do their job.” Considering the number of Best Employers who now offer on-site gyms, or fitness centre subsidies, that’s a piece of advice many have taken to heart.

For tech giant Cisco Canada, caring for employees’ well-being includes a somewhat less intuitive approach: using the latest technology to cut commuting and travel time as a way to improve work-life balance. TelePresence, which connects boardrooms across the globe via high-definition screens, allows meetings to happen without having to put employees on red-eye international flights. And for smaller, day-to-day issues, IP phones and WebEX capabilities are part of an optional but free “home networking package” that allows Cisco employees to work from home. According to David Clarkson, Cisco Canada’s vice-president for human resources, people who used to spend most of their time travelling are now “down to 10 per cent travel time,” which has proven to be an enormous boost of employee morale. Another way that Cisco Canada maintains a high level of spirit among its employees is through corporate social responsibility initiatives like charitable donations and green campaigns. According to Willa Black, Cisco Canada’s vice-president for corporate affairs, things like these help “anchor an employee’s pride in the organization.”