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Agenda and Speakers

The 2016 Better Workplace Conference: Making a Difference Through TransformationOct 25–26, 2016 Vancouver

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

7:45 AM Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:15 AM Opening Remarks from the Chair
Mac Donald <br />  
Marie Mac Donald Consulting
8:30 AM Sponsor Welcome
8:45 AM Plenary Session 1

Opening Keynote: Removing Barriers and Unleashing Potential

Through the power of his own story and the inspiration he's found in others, Rick Hansen encourages leaders to empower their team to create workplaces that support a culture of accessibility and inclusion. Rick challenges audiences to check their own attitudes and question the barriers to success within their workplaces. Through the Rick Hansen Accessibility and Inclusion Program, Rick and his team raise awareness about accessibility, inclusion, and the potential of people with disabilities.

Through the lens of each individual's unique abilities Rick Hansen will introduce the themes of the event - for only when everyone is enabled to make their unique contribution will we have better workplaces, healthier workplaces and will we all be able to reach our own potential.

Hansen <br />  
Chief Executive Officer
Rick Hansen Foundation
9:45 AM Plenary Session 2

Building Better Workplaces One Brick at a Time: Exploring Workplace Improvement Using LEGO Serious Play

This interactive session will give you the opportunity to explore your idea of a "better workplace" and develop a vision for your future.

Following on from the energizing opening you will get to reflect on the ideas of removing barriers and achieving your potential through play. Although play comes naturally to people, it is somehow seen as the opposite of work. This session will demonstrate that just simply isn't true. You will experience the power of play as you engage you brain and discover a new capacity for creative problem solving through collaboration.

In this session you'll use LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY to think about you and your organization's purpose. Whether that purpose is a new corporate strategy, product or team vision, incorporating play into our work lives brings complete engagement in a way that bullet points on a slide stuffed away on a SharePoint site can never do.

Lloyd-Smith <br />  
Strategic Play
10:30 AM Break
10:45 AM Concurrent Sessions Set A
(please choose one)
10:45 AM Concurrent Session A1

Solitude is the new smoking: How building a supportive, connected workplace leads to healthier, happier, more productive workers and gives your organization a competitive edge

Stress and burnout are bad for business, costing the economy billions in lost productivity and producing miserable, unhealthy, inefficient employees. Yet over half of us feel burned out at work. What can you and your organization do to counteract this problem?

In this session, social health expert Kasley Killam will offer a surprising solution, explaining how the well-established issue of loneliness is manifesting in organizations. She will propose that a supportive work environment, which honors the innate human need for connection, can prevent against burnout, improve performance, and enhance the health and wellness of both employees and the company.

Drawing from social science research, Kasley will make practical suggestions for how you can tap into this potential by fostering social support and community in your organization

Killam <br />  
Connectr Consulting
10:45 AM Concurrent Session A2

Better Health: Men and Depression Anxiety in the Workplace

Dr. Raymond W. Lam is Professor and Head of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program in the Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, and Director of the Mood Disorders Centre of Excellence at UBC Hospital within the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. His research covers the spectrum of non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic treatments for mood disorders, with a focus on seasonal, treatment-resistant and workplace depression.

He has published over 230 papers in peer-reviewed journals and authored 11 books on depression, and serves on the editorial boards of 7 international journals, including as an editorial advisor for the Cochrane Collaboration. He is also the Executive Chair of the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT).

In this session, Dr Lam will focus on the issue of men's mental health in the workplace. Major depression is prevalent in the general population and men are not immune from depression. However, men are socialized to be emotionally stoic and exemplify traditional masculine characteristics such as independence, self-reliance and dominance. Men are concerned over the perceived negative judgments from family, friends and employers if they access treatment for depression.

Dr Lam will discuss his latest research and share his thoughts on possible strategies that have the potential to specifically help men in the workplace better manage their mental health.

Lam <br />  
Professor & Associate Head for Research, Department of Psychiatry
The University of British Columbia
10:45 AM Concurrent Session A3
Better You: Mindfulness, Health & Performance

Given today's environment of constant connection, continual interruption, and fast paced change, it comes as no surprise that interest in mindfulness is increasing. Based on a centuries-old practice, advocates of mindfulness claim it offers greater focus, peace of mind, and significant health benefits. Just how effective and useful is mindfulness in the modern world?

Dr. Linda Carlson's extensive research into mindfulness includes a recent study that showed significant health benefits for breast cancer patients. She will share the results of this study and others, to establish the case for the use of mindfulness in clinical practice.

Dr. Carlson will then consider the value of mindfulness for employees, and how it can increase their effectiveness-especially in times of change-when competing demands and a changing environment put additional pressures on us all.

Carlson <br />  
Professor, Department of Oncology, Cumming School of Medicine
University of Calgary
11:45 AM Networking Luncheon
12:45 PM Plenary Session 3

What's Trending: Benchmarking Organizational Health in Canadian Workplaces

It is well known that the organizational benefits of a healthy and safe workplace are many-including reduced health care costs due to illness and injury, improved productivity, and increased employee attraction, retention and morale. A comprehensive and optimal organizational health management strategy should integrate programs to protect employee health and safety, promote wellness, and effectively manage absence and disabilities.

During this session, Mary-Lou will share results of this landmark study publicly for the first time. Attendees will gain insight into current Canadian organizational health management strategies, the health trends that are driving changes to programs, and the innovative efforts by employers to integrate their occupational health and safety, wellness, and disability management programs.

MacDonald <br />  
Director, Workplace Health, Wellness and Safety Research
The Conference Board of Canada
1:45 PM Break
2:00 PM Concurrent Sessions Set B
(Please choose one)
2:00 PM Concurrent Session B1

Better Work: Innovation, Culture, Success and Failure: The Amazing Transformation of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)

Sometimes the prospect of transformation can seem daunting - but what if you could achieve major change in only 100 days? It sounds improbable but that is the goal Antoni Wisniowski set. In this session he will share the story of how they set about achieving this goal and their continued efforts at change and transformation.

You will hear how the organization used a specific rapid results methodology to implement change. This involved changes not just to processes but also to the culture while encouraging innovation. The key to this approach has been a focus on results combined with an acceptance of the fact of failure. Their aim is to learn from failure and put those lessons into practice.

Wisniowski <br />  
President and Chief Administrative Offier
Municipal Property Assessment Corporation
2:00 PM Concurrent Session B2

Better Health: Work Life Balance, Compassion Fatigue and Burnout - Practical Strategies From the Front Line of Health

At times it seems as if achieving work life balance is to dream the impossible dream - and while Michael Garron Hospital doesn't claim to have achieved this for everyone it has become a powerful aspiration that guides their wellness strategy.

A more common experience in organizations is burnout. Employees simply face too many demands both inside and outside work, and too many ignore the psychological and physical repercussions as they try to keep pace. In environments such as hospitals, compassion fatigue is also a danger as the work involves an emotional and spiritual engagement. Those in caring professions notoriously neglect their own well-being.

To address this situation the hospital has implemented a number of initiatives and begun a cultural transformation that supports the well being of staff and patients. Wolf Klassen and Christine Devine will discuss what has worked and progress to date.

Klassen <br />  
Vice-President, Program Support
Toronto East Health Network
Devine <br />  
Wellness Specialist
Michael Garron Hospital
2:00 PM Concurrent Session B3

Better You: Improving Collaboration and Effectiveness byt "Working Out Loud" (WOL)

You can't reach your full potential on your own, and your colleagues can't reach their full potential without you.

WOL is a rapidly growing approach to achieving your goals and your full potential by connecting, sharing and collaborating with others.

In this session leading WOL practitioner Jonathon Anthony will show how you can use these three questions:

  • What am I trying to accomplish?
  • Who can help me?
  • How can I contribute to them to deepen our relationship?

Build your networking on a foundation of generosity. You begin by investing in relationships that give you access to other people, knowledge, and possibilities.

Through WOL circles you can build your own network toward a goal you care about in 12 weeks. Circles help you develop a mindset and habit you can apply to any goal.

Anthony <br />  
Director, Corporate Communications
Teekay Corporation
3:00 PM Sponsor Spotlight Set A
(Please choose one)
3:00 PM Sponsor Spotlight A1

Resilient Teams: Activities For Any Workplace

In October 2015, a group of experts in the areas of resilience, trauma, emotional intelligence and compassion fatigue met at the Better Workplace Conference in Gatineau, Quebec to develop workplace activities that build skills for resiliency.

Resilience includes a sense of self-efficacy and the ability to problem solve, and give and receive social support. Resilient teams can not only better deal with workplace stressors and traumatic incidents, they are also more productive and engaged.

Join Mary Ann Baynton and the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace at the launch of this new resource, where you will get an opportunity to build your own resilience skills by participating in some of the activities.

You will be provided with a book of activities to take back to your own workplace to use with your teams.

Baynton <br />  
Program Director
The Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace
3:00 PM Sponsor Spotlight A2

Leaving DIS—Abilities Behind and Focusing on Abilities of Aspiring Workers

Mental Health Commission of Canada defines the term Aspiring Workforce as individuals with mental illness that are able and want to return to work. This interactive session will explore the business case for employers to hire individuals with mental illness, uncover common and effective accommodation strategies, and discuss programs, tools and resources available for employers ensure effective recruitment and retention of aspiring workers.

Rewari <br />  
Program Manager, Workplace Mental Health
Mental Health Commission of Canada
3:00 PM Session details to come
4:00 PM Break
4:15 PM Concurrent Sessions Set C
(Please choose one)
4:15 PM Concurrent Session C1

Better Work: The Future of Engagement, Performance and Culture as Seen from New and High Growth Companies

Led by renowned futurist Adrian Ebsary, this panel session will feature a wide ranging discussion about the future of work as seen through the eyes of leaders at organizations.

Bring your questions on any topic related to the future of work and join a lively conversation that is sure to touch on issues such as:

  • the promise and peril of new technologies such as robotics and AI
  • the future of social media
  • how purpose will influence the workplace of tomorrow
  • demographic changes and challenges
  • increasing use of contingent and mobile workers
  • the future of workplace wellness

  • Ebsary <br />  
    Social Marketing Specialist, Futurist, Speaker, and Consultant
    STEMCELL Technologies
Thornton <br />  
4:15 PM Concurrent Session C2

Better Health: Access and Inclusion in the Workplace - A Conversation with Brad McCannell of the Rick Hansen Foundation

Rick and his team at the Rick Hansen Foundation are passionate about equipping workplaces with relevant materials and resources to support a culture of accessibility and inclusion. What are the current challenges and solutions regarding access and inclusion for people with disabilities, and what are the potential solutions? Join Rick and his team to learn more about the Rick Hansen Accessibility and Inclusion Program, and to have a lively discussion on how we can all inspire change in our workplaces and communities.

McCannell <br />  
Vice-President, Access and Inclusion
Rick Hansen Foundation
4:15 PM Concurrent Session C3

Better You: Becoming a Better Leader Through Neuroleadership

Neuroleadership connects neuroscientific knowledge with the fields of leadership development, management training, change management, consulting and coaching. As a practitioner Helen Gardiner helps individuals and organizations fulfill their potential through better understanding how the human brain functions, at the level of individuals, teams and whole systems.

Using insights from the latest brain research and her coaching practice Dori will provide a new perspective on leadership, change and resiliency.

Van Stolk <br />  
Coach, Consultant, Facilitator
5:15 PM Exhibitor Hall Reception
6:00 PM Doors open to Evening Event
7:00 PM 20th Anniversary Evening Event

Finding Light in the Darkness

Best known as a founding member of the massively successful Canadian band Great Big Sea, Séan's twenty years with the ensemble came to a halt in 2013 when he realised that he needed to deal with both alcohol addiction and abuse he suffered as a young man.

Since then, Séan has been using his words and music to bring healing into his life and the lives of others.

Séan's love for Newfoundland and Labrador folk songs shot him to international fame as a founding member of the renowned group Great Big Sea. But while Séan was with the band, giving himself to thousands of people a night on the road, he was slowly losing his own way. It was a life, he says, where "every night was like a Friday night," and instead of seeking truth he was hiding behind his music.

Ironically, it was through music, that Sean was eventually able to bring himself to deal with the issues of abuse he'd been trying so hard to forget. Help Your Self was not only the title of his first post band solo album, but it was Sean's battle cry. And with the help of his family, Sean opened up and brought light to the darkness of the secrets he'd been carrying, using music to heal and move forward.

Séan will share his story and some of his music - a story that is raw and painful but ultimately hopeful and one that will be an inspiration to anyone.

Mac Donald <br />  
Welcoming Remarks from the Chair:
Marie Mac Donald Consulting
McCann <br />  
Keynote Address:
Mental Health Advocate, Acclaimed Solo Musician,Founding Member of Great Big Sea
8:30 PM Evening Event ends

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

7:30 AM Breakfast session

Transforming the health and productivity of Employees: Findings from the Sun Life - Ivey Canadian Wellness ROI Study

Employers are uniquely positioned to help transform employees' health, especially if health improvements coincide with improved productivity. Until now there has been little scientific evidence whether wellness works. A team of researchers from Ivey Business School and Western University in partnership with Sun Life Financial embarked on the Sun Life - Ivey Canadian Wellness ROI Study to research the impact of wellness programs. The study aimed to help fill the void in Canadian based workplace wellness research.

The first of its kind in Canada, this academically rigorous, two-year, quasi experimental design study incorporating treatment and control groups, analyses data from pre wellness program intervention through post intervention. It makes a sound contribution to both the business case and the health case for workplace wellness programs. This presentation will highlight the key learning from the study, and show how these findings can influence the design and implementation of wellness programs.

The session will elaborate on preliminary findings which suggested substantial improvement in employees' physical activity and nutrition habits, increases in employee engagement, improved corporate culture, and a reduction in stress levels, as well as the impact of wellness programs in terms of making the business case for wellness. Do workplace wellness programs help transform both the health and the productivity of employees in Canada? The Sun Life - Ivey Canadian Wellness ROI Study may have some of the answers you are looking for.

Rouse <br />  
Associate Professor
Ivey School of Business
Elia <br />  
Assistant Vice-President, Client Experience, Integrated Health Solutions
Sun Life Financial
8:30 AM Opening Remarks from the Chair

Mac Donald <br />  
Marie Mac Donald Consulting
8:45 AM Plenary Session 4

Choose Your Story
Workplace Practices That Transform Culture

For the 20th Anniversary of The Better Workplace Conference we are delighted to feature the event’s Founder Deborah Connors who continues to pioneer new thinking and practices for positive, healthy workplaces.

Does your workplace culture support people to flourish? What if you could apply some simple daily practices to build this type of culture at work? In this session Deb will share some of the key insights from her recent book that compiles the wisdom of some of the world’s top Organizational Health experts.

Through this keynote you will:

  • discover the “through-line” approach to shifting culture at work
  • find out how to create upward spirals in your own life and within your teams
  • learn how to model the principles of positive organizing
  • experience practices that can shift your positivity and resilience as a leader
  • learn about the most highly recommended tools and advice from leading organizational health experts
  • If you are a change agent with a vision for a better place to work, this keynote will inspire you to develop daily practices that support a culture of creativity, innovation and possibility.

Connors <br />  
President, Well-Advised Consulting Inc., and Founder, The Better Workplace Conference
9:30 AM Break
9:45 AM Sponsor Spotlights Set B
(please choose one)
9:45 AM Sponsor Spotlight B1
Session details to come
9:45 AM Sponsor Spotlight B2
Session details to come
9:45 AM Sponsor Spotlight B3

In his book, The Coping Crisis, Dr. Bill Howatt suggests that a large contribution to the mental health crisis is an employee's ability to cope with environmental stressors.

Bill explores how employees get into a coping crisis and their pathways out, with a focus on action plans for both the employer and the employee. He also addresses questions such as:

  • what tools or skills do employees need to better cope with their daily lives?
  • how can employers encourage and help promote this skill development?

He explores how employees move along the mental health continuum towards mental illness. He will discuss practical examples of how a concept called "coping churn" stalls employees from being able to take control over their lives.

You will hear ideas on how to manage the demands employees must deal with in their environment, as well as the pressure they put on themselves. Among the issues discussed will be:

  • the coping skills conundrum and the challenges of changing behaviour
  • nine micro skills that influence one's ability to cope with environmental stressors
  • the roles and responsibilities of both the employee and the employer in creating environments where coping skills can be developed

Howatt <br />  
Chief Research and Development Officer, Workforce Productivity
Morneau Shepell Ltd.
10:45 AM Break
11:00 AM Concurrent Sessions Set D
(Please choose one)
11:00 AM Concurrent Session D1

Better Work: Confident, Collaborative, Contributing: Changing Workplace Culture

Based on her extensive work with a financial institution in Alberta, Lynette will share a proved approach to changing culture - one that begins on the front line and ends up impacting the bottom line.

Lynette will guide you through a step-by-step process that she is currently developing in the field. One that will produce a dramatic transformation even in already high performing organizations.

Her approach addresses three key issues:

  1. Confidence - how can you create a workplace environment that supports confident employees? Employees who act on their own initiative to deliver outstanding customer experience knowing that the organization will support and encourage them.
  2. Collaboration - one of the biggest obstacles to culture change entrenched silos that get in the way of collaboration. But how can you break these down while still honouring the unique character of individual departments or functions
  3. Contribution - having built a foundation of confidence and collaboration how do you then move on to ensuring everyone is making a contribution to your organization's success - and how do you recognize them for doing so

Turner <br />  
Culture Change Practitioner
11:00 AM Concurrent Session D2

Better Health: Financial Health and Its Impact on Mental Well Being

Session details to come

Wilson <br />  
Vice-President, Corporate Citizenship
Chartered Professional Accountants
11:00 AM Concurrent Session D3

Better You: Lessons in Women's Leadership from the Construction Site to the Boardroom.

Canada now has a gender-balanced cabinet. The Democratic party in the US is on the cusp of nominating the first female candidate for President. Articles about successful women seem to be everywhere. "Leaning in" has become part of the language. Many organizations are increasingly appointing women to ever more senior positions. One might almost be tempted to feel that if the battle for women's equality hasn't been won at least the corner has been turned.

But women still earn considerably less for the same work as men, and some occupations remain stubbornly gender specific.

To address this issue Jill Drader draws on her own experience as a qualified tradesperson in the construction industry to explore women's leadership - not from the lofty heights of the c-suite or the boardroom but from the trenches - where the work gets done and women daily face overt and covert discrimination.

Because Better Workplaces are for everyone.

Drader <br />  
Steel Toe Stiletto
12:00 PM Light Lunch and Plenary Session 5

Building Better Workplaces One Brick at a Time: What Have We Learned and What Will We do Next?

In this second LEGO SERIOUS PLAY session you will have the opportunity to reflect on what you have learned and share those learnings with your fellow delegates.

Happiness, Culture and the Future of Work

John's career as an entrepreneur in both telecommunications and marketing has seen him take start-ups to enterprise level organizations. A co-founder of Fibernetics, one of the largest telecom companies in the country with points of presence coast-to-coast, it supports hundreds of thousands of Canadians with their telecommunications needs.

John will close the event with a rousing call to improve the culture of all our organizations - to in his own words:

"Great companies depend upon great culture to survive and thrive. I have the vision to not only realize a new culture was needed at Fibernetics but developed the goals, constructed the plan, and its execution.

I am passionate about culture in companies and what makes a great company become incredible. I live it every day and am completely committed to this goal."

Lloyd-Smith <br />  
Strategic Play
Stix <br />  
2:00 PM Optional Workshop 1:

Mental Health and Wellness: Modern Solutions for a 21st Century Challenge

***Registration is complimentary courtesy of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Registration is capped at the first 40 delegates and limited to one person per organization.***

Canadian employers are finally catching on - keeping employees truly safe and healthy is about more than providing flu shots and preventing falls. We've got to consider their mental health, too. Along with the personal toll on the individual, mental health problems and illnesses are costing the economy billions; 500,000 Canadians won't make it to work this week alone because of them. Many of these costs can be avoided by creating and maintaining a mentally safe and healthy workplace.

Join this session to learn about what tools and resources exist to apply in your organization to address this issue and hear from leaders who have been making a difference in their workplace. These leaders of private and non-governmental organizations will also talk about the importance of this issue, the incredible impact they are seeing from the changes they've made, and the role of executives and managers in making it all work. The workshop will also highlight key training programs such as Mental Health First Aid and The Working Mind to share the evidence on their effectiveness to reduce stigma around mental illness and enhance resilience/knowledge of employees around the issue. Lastly, the session will provide a sneak preview of some new online tools that can be used at no cost in any workplace to advance this important issue.

2:00 PM Optional Workshop 2 : Details to be advised
5:00 PM Optional Workshops Adjourn


We’d like to thank our generous partners for their contribution to this event.

Distinguished Partner

Lundbeck Canada Inc. logo

Major Partner

Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada logo

Conference Partners

Great-West Life logo

Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace logo

Mental Health Commission of Canada logo

University of Fredericton logo

Morneau Shepell logo

Cira Medical Serivces logo

Optima Global Health logo

Solareh logo

BC Partners logo


Homewood Health logo

                          Curtis Health logo

FitterFirst logo

Marketing Partners

BC HRMA logo

Diversity! In the Workplace logo

Gallant HealthWorks logo

Healthy Minds Canada logo

Mood Disorders Society of Canada logo

The details of this event are subject to change. Please revisit this page periodically for updated information.