Creating a workplace in which employees can strive and thrive

As a human service organization, Kinark’s ability to attract and retain the best people in the business is mission critical.

“We know that we’re struggling a bit in this regard and we’re not alone,” says Chief Administrative Office Mohamed Shafeek, which is why, over the past year, he has led a deep dive into what it means to be a top employer.

Compensation is just one aspect of what employees are looking for today, he says. “There are many more pieces of the puzzle that need to be in place to attract and retain top talent, including: how we go about finding people who share our passion, purpose and core values; how we welcome these people into the Kinark family; whether we equip employees with the right skills to serve their clients well; whether there are clearly defined career paths for employees and corresponding learning plans to help them grow and succeed; whether there are leadership development and advancement opportunities for those who want them; and of course, fair and competitive compensation,” says Shafeek.

The ITM Project team (from left to right): Robert Blewett, Director of Human Resources; Stephanie Bernardi, Manager, HR Administration; and Mohamed Shafeek, Chief Administrative Officer. Unavailable for photo: Tonnia Brogan, Manager, HR Operations and Tamara Mahon, Manager, Organizational Development.

Over the past couple of years, the agency has introduced some fundamental pieces of the recruitment and retention puzzle, namely standardized job profiles, the SMART goal setting and performance development process (which helps to align employees’ work with the organization’s strategic goals), a new corporate onboarding program as well as new leadership development and succession management opportunities.

To develop an effective, fully integrated talent management (ITM) strategy, Shafeek says, we need the input of our employees and former employees*. So last year, 49 focus groups were held involving more than 300 employees from all programs, functional areas and levels of the organization to gather the critical insights Shafeek and his HR team need to better understand what will attract more top tier talent to Kinark and what will entice them and current employees to ‘say, stay and strive’.

Key findings from the focus groups, as well as the results of the 2019 employee engagement survey, will be used to inform and develop a comprehensive ITM plan that will be rolled out over the next three to five years, starting this year, to help Kinark achieve its goal of becoming an employer of choice in the sectors it serves.

At Kinark, our goal is to create a work environment that enables our employees to:

Say – great things about what it’s like to work at Kinark

Stay – with the organization because they support what we’re trying to achieve and enjoy working at Kinark

Strive – to be an active participant in their professional growth and development, and be the best they can be

“While we won’t be able to do everything that we want or need to do all at once, there may be things we can do quickly and at a reasonable cost to make an immediate and positive impact,” he says.

“Ultimately, the goal is to create a workplace that attracts high calibre people, that employees speak highly of and readily recommend to others … an environment in which employees are energized, engaged and work at their full scope of practice … a place where they can grow, have a great experience, and make a meaningful difference in the lives of our clients,” says Shafeek.

*Exit interviews are conducted on a regular basis with employees who leave the organization to learn more about their decisions to move on.