PEOPLE AS A COMPETITIVE DIFFERENTIATOR
The prominent real-estate company Cadillac Fairview is another
business that puts a high priority on listening to its employees.
Over the past few years, it has been going through a process of
reinvigorating its corporate culture around the touchstone idea of
“making people and culture our competitive advantage,” said company
CEO John Sullivan.
This transformation is structured as a five-year “people strategy”
that aligns with the company’s five-year business strategy.
“We set employee engagement as a key people measure in the
overall business strategy along with other financial and operating
measures,” said Sullivan. An annual organization-wide people
objective and board of director reviews go hand-in-hand with
reinforcing corporate values through daily work processes and
“We believe leaders drive values, values drive behaviour,
behaviour drives culture and culture drives performance,” said
Sullivan. “We’re certainly not perfect, but our leadership team
tries to live that credo each day and role-model the behaviour
and culture that make us uniquely successful.”
This approach has already shown remarkable results, including
record earnings and rates of return, and also external
recognition such as Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures,
Greater Toronto’s Top Employers, Achievers 50 Most Engaged
Workplaces in North America and IBM’s Global Top 25 Per Cent
Most Engaged Companies, among others.
Professional Development IT PAYS TO KNOW
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in Ontario Marty S., CPM - Member, Ontario Region
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“A key role of HR is ensuring the people strategy is well
connected to the business strategy, and then HR must deploy
disciplined project and change management to execute, ensure
the change sticks and has a meaningful impact on business
performance, and measure that impact,” said Sullivan.
Although it’s critical for the HR function to understand the
business vision, that alone is not enough, he says.
“Good HR professionals figure out how to connect people
strategy and business strategy to improve business outcomes.
Often HR is internally focused, but they should think about
what value they can create for external customers, partners,
investors, regulatory bodies and the communities we serve.
HR is the architect behind boosting individual and organizational
capability to effectively execute strategy and plans, and
all CEOs are interested in that.”
“One piece of advice I’d give all HR professionals is to recognize
that HR is not about HR, it’s about the business,” said
Sullivan. “This sets the right outside-in mindset and frames
HR’s contribution in the context of the value HR creates as
defined by stakeholders in a complex internal and external
There is consensus among business leaders, it seems: in
times of challenging change, connecting with people at all levels
of the enterprise plays a more critical role than ever, and
it has never been easier to articulate the value of the human
resources function. n
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ APRIL 2018 ❚ 17