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The Better Workplace Conference 2018.

October 10–11 Vancouver

Be Better. Work Better. Lead Better.


Days Hours Minutes Seconds

Conference Overview

Three streams, one goal—ensuring your future workplace is built on employee well-being. This year’s event features three streams that together create a comprehensive guide to a better workplace. You’ll learn how to be better, work better, and lead better.


October 10 October 11


Download Agenda

October 10

7:30 a.m.

Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:00 a.m.

Opening Remarks from The Conference Board of Canada and the Chair

8:15 a.m.

Welcoming Remarks from the Strategic Partner

8:30 a.m.

Plenary Session 1
Words to Live By When Building a Better Workplace: Resiliency, Compassion, Grit, Empathy and Even Love
Stuart Ellis-Myers (a.k.a. Twitchy)

Be prepared to laugh and learn from someone offering 50 years of lived experience with anxiety, clinical depression, OCD, ADD, Tourette syndrome and bipolar.

In this laugh-while-you-learn keynote know you will leave with immediately usable insights and actions required to better your workplace.

Stuart Ellis-Myers, best described by over 800 audiences as Robin Williams with a Twitch, invites you to become a reality based better workplace leader ready to inspire others to experience a deeper sense of connection, and how to harmonize balance in our personal and professional lives.

You’ll learn how to overcome adversity, reap the rewards of persistence, become more accepting of others and bring passion and humour into your better workplace.

9:45 a.m.

Wellness Break

10:15 a.m.

Break-Out Sessions A (please select one)
Work Better: Design Thinking
Be Better: Wellness Practitioner Panel
Lead Better: Improving Culture: The CBC story

Session A1

Work Better: Better by Design—How Design Thinking Can Transform HR and Work

Better workplaces don’t just happen, they are designed.

Organizations increasingly look to enhance the employee experience so they are turning to the well-established process of design thinking to define and develop new approaches.

Combining innovation with empathy and collaboration, design thinking is beginning to make inroads into HR. This session will offer you a view into the process will help you:

  • adopt and adapt design thinking to your HR practice
  • improve your employee experience
  • refresh your employer brand
  • enable everyone to collaborate better in your organization.

Session A2

Be Better: Practitioner Panel on Exploring and Expanding the Role of Wellness Professionals in Your Workplace

The Conference Board has long been a leader in the area of workplace wellness especially workplace mental health. It continues this tradition through events such as The Better Workplace Conference, Workplace Mental Health Conferences in Toronto and Ottawa, and a national series of workshops on Leading Mentally Healthy Workplaces.

The Board’s research into the ROI of wellness and other trending topics has established itself as a benchmark for professionals in the industry. The Board’s Council on Workplace Health and Wellness and The Health and Safety Leadership Centre have played a key role in this work.

This panel will bring together members of these Councils to share their experiences and explore the changing role of wellness professionals in organizations and the challenges they face in furthering the cause of employee wellness.

You’ll learn how to:

  • apply the findings of the Board’s research in your workplace
  • develop your role as a wellness practitioner in your organization
  • overcome common challenges to improved employee wellness
  • identify what interventions will work best in your organization

Session A3

Lead Better: Improving Culture Through Effective Leadership—The CBC Story

10 years ago, workplace culture was widely perceived as a relatively insignificant “soft” issue. Now it has the attention of leaders at the very top of organizations who see it as a significant driver of performance.

This new attention means that cultivating a great culture and changing culture have become top priorities for HR leaders across Canada.

This session will look at the issue of how to fix a culture that has lost its way.

Christine joined CBC with a mandate to change the culture prior to the corporation grabbing the spotlight during the Ghomeshi scandal. That incident highlighted the negative impact of toxic cultures and leaders—things that are all too common in workplaces in both the private and public sectors.

Among the issues discussed will be how to:

  • identify and fix what’s wrong with a culture
  • build a positive work environment
  • put the past behind you and look to the future
  • ensure you don’t tolerate toxic individuals in the future

11:15 a.m.

Stretch Break

11:30 a.m.

Break-Out Sessions B (please select one)
Work Better: TBD
Be Better: Social Isolation
Lead Better: Authenticity, Transparency, & Empathy

Session B1

This session is available for sponsorship.

Session B2

Be Better: Addressing Social Isolation In Society and at Work

Social isolation and loneliness are currently getting a lot of attention in the media and in workplaces across Canada. While “sitting is the new smoking” became a mantra a few years ago now people are increasingly recognising that “solitude is the new smoking” as study after study demonstrates the negative health effects of a lack of connection. In response the UK even appointed a Minister for Loneliness.

The Vancouver Foundation has long been a pioneer in this area having published their first Connections and Engagement report in 2012. They have now produced a follow up that examines who may be experiencing stronger or weaker social connections, while exploring the barriers to being more connected and engaged, and looking for opportunities to move beyond the issues to catalyze action.

This session will feature the findings of the report and an interactive discussion that will explore issues such as:

  • appreciating the very real and serious health impact of social isolation
  • how the issue of loneliness presents in organizations
  • how you as a wellness professionals and leaders need to become more aware of the issue
  • what concrete steps you can take to address this in your workplace

Session B3

Lead Better: Being Radical Responsible—How to Lead Your Teams with More Authenticity, Transparency, and Empathy

Diffusing conflict, providing difficult feedback, addressing cultural faux-pas, and creating safer workplaces are now role requirements of being a leader in an organization. Yet we don't always have the awareness or skills required to meet these requirements.

In this interactive workshop, you will:

  • dive into neuroscience-backed practices to leverage the power of radical responsibility
  • learn how to bring more about more candor, clarity, and connection in your relationships and conversations at work (and beyond)
  • be empowered and equipped to handle tough situations with a lot more ease
  • dramatically improve how you deliver feedback—even when it’s not positive

Matt Corker has used this technique to lead cultural changes at UBC, manage the product quality crisis lululemon athletica had in 2013, and now train people leaders internationally on how to be more effective managers.

12:30 p.m.

Networking Lunch

1:30 p.m.

Break-Out Sessions C (please select one)
Work Better: Future of Work
Be Better: Health Coaching
Lead Better: Developing Great Leaders

Session C1

Work Better: Making the Future of Work a Reality—Panel Featuring Next Generation Organizations and Wellness Culture Leaders

In today’s fast paced work environment many large established organizations are looking to smaller, nimbler companies for lessons in how best to navigate change, create great employee experiences, and energize a younger generation of workers. All with a focus on wellness!

This panel will bring together leaders from smaller, fast growing companies to share some of the secrets of their cultures as we explore the intersection of great employee experience, agility, engagement, wellness, and generations in the workplace.

You’ll hear how to:

  • develop high energy cultures that deliver results
  • increase employee engagement for all generations
  • focus on employee experience
  • scale the culture lessons from small high growth companies

Session C2

Be Better: Health Coaching for Chronic Disease—Opportunities, Evidence and Impact

With the ever-increasing prevalence, burden and costs associated with chronic disease in the workplace this session will explore how health coaching can be used as an effective intervention to improve clinical health outcomes, quality of life, and healthcare utilization and adherence for employees.

The presentation will review the current context of health coaching for chronic disease in the workplace and discuss evidence and opportunities from Shoppers Drug Mart’s Diabetes Coaching Program.

The Diabetes Coaching Program provides employees with a new model for managing type 2 diabetes through timely and ongoing diabetes coaching and support, and provides a real-world example of the potential for health coaching.

Session C3

Lead Better: People leave Managers not Companies—Supporting and Developing Leadership Capacity from the Ground Up

Gallup CEO Jim Clifton stated, “The single biggest decision you make in your job-bigger than all the rest-is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits-nothing.” This engaging session will tackle developing a simple but strategy-aligned leadership development plan to decrease the likelihood that any of your fabulous employees end up running away from one of your formal leaders.

2:30 p.m.

Wellness and Networking Break

3:00 p.m.

Plenary Session 2
How Good is Your Culture: Building a Better Workplace with Purpose
Ryan McCarty and Lorie Corcuera

Scott Moorehead, the CEO of TCC Verizon, hired Ryan McCarty to help create a Culture of Good for the largest Verizon Authorized Retailer’s 3,000 employees at 800 stores across the U.S. What began as a powerful movement—in which employees have done everything from dressing up as superheroes for a children’s hospital to distributing hundreds of thousands of backpacks for kids—has grown into a business teaching other companies that inspired employees ignite positive change in the world and impact your bottom line, positively.

In this session, Ryan will share how it is possible to put the question “What happens when companies offer more than jobs or careers and get in the business of offering callings to employees?” at the heart of your organization. The result is that when companies give their employees permission to care, they create a movement of people who share their value for social responsibility.

CSR programs are just that—programs that can fade faster than it takes to launch. When employees are empowered to bring their soul to work they join a movement that redefines their role in their work that drives retention and minimizes low performance.

Lorie’s mantra is “live WOW and LOVE completely.”

She is on a mission to reinstate love in the workplace. In a world where most cultures are fear-based, only love or creating cultures of true belonging and human connection will persevere and endure today’s workplace challenges. Following Ryan, she will share how compassion and empathy will strengthen leadership, resiliency and the overall well-being of your people, building The Better Workplace.”

Together this dynamic duo will help you:

  • create lasting culture change that’s not just built on the latest fad
  • bring love, yes love, into the workplace
  • drive out fear and replace it with purpose and compassion
  • transform work from being a necessity into a calling
  • inspire people to make radical, meaningful change
  • build empathy into your leadership practice

4:30 p.m.

Networking Reception

5:00 p.m.

Evening Reception and keynote address
Perspective Makeover: Proven Tips to Living an Awesome Life!
Jessica Holmes

The secrets of success are the same no matter what business you’re in, and success begins with getting motivated. Inspiration and comedy unite in this 60-minute transformational presentation from “I should …” to “I will!”

Energizing and funny, Jessica’s call to action combines her trademark character comedy with quirky anecdotes to deliver motivational insights into:

  • finding greater meaning in your work
  • using positive psychology to be happier day to day
  • setting and reaching your goals
  • learning to laugh at life’s shortcomings

Jessica gives quick, achievable “how to’s” about these topics and more, in a laugh-out-loud hour of fun. The audience receives introspective takeaways to guarantee that Jessica’s presentation makes a meaningful impact.

6:00 p.m.

Networking Reception

6:30 p.m.

Day 1 Adjourns

October 11

7:30 a.m.

Continental Breakfast

8:00 a.m.

Opening Remarks from the Chair

8:15 a.m.

Plenary Session 3
Standing Together: Leadership, Advocacy, Wellness and Culture
Mary Ann Baynton and Piyush Mathur

Wellness is not an individual endeavour. We need to stand up for one another especially in the case of mental health where stigma prevents people speaking up and where those suffering may not even recognize they have a problem.

This session will provide two inspiring examples of how we need to stand together to help one another.

Wellness pioneer Mary Ann Baynton will share her latest project related to being a health advocate. This applies to employers, family members and health care providers, for example, physiotherapists who suspect a mental health concern and want to help.

Piyush Mathur will speak about the culture at Johnson & Johnson whose Credo, crafted in 1943, has at its core a belief that we are all in this together and that the company’s responsibilities extend to customers, employees, the community and stockholders.

From these two wellness leaders you will learn how to:

  • advocate for your and other’s mental health
  • overcome stigma by standing up for one another
  • create a culture with wellness at the centre
  • demonstrate the value of mental health in your organization

9:45 a.m.

Wellness Break

10:15 a.m.

Break-Out Sessions D (please select one)
Work Better: Mindfulness
Be Better: Workplace Accommodations
Lead Better: Gaslighting and Gender at Work

Session D1

Work Better: Mindfulness at Work

Facing a complex, rapidly changing environment and an exponential increase in digital distraction it’s no wonder that mindfulness has become increasingly popular in organizations.

Yet this ancient practice is often misunderstood, misapplied and always runs the risk of becoming just a fad, adopted for a short while only to be neglected and forgotten when the next new thing comes along.

The result is a disconnect between a demonstrably effective practice and corporate initiatives that fail to realise their potential. Anna Tavis has addressed this through a study of the impact of mindfulness on leadership. In this session she will share the results and you will gain a better appreciation of how to:

  • ensure mindfulness in your workplace is effective
  • sustain the gains you make over time
  • reap the health benefits of mindfulness while improving the quality of leadership
  • use mindfulness to support culture change

Session D2

Be Better: No and Low-Cost Accommodations for a Productive Workplace that Attracts and Retains the Best

Labour shortages in Canada are projected to reach close to 2 million workers by 2031, costing the Canadian economy billions in lost GDP annually. Additionally, rising rates of absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover, are now requiring employers to use innovative ways to recruit and retain a qualified labour force. Promoting and protecting the mental health of employees can impact an employer's bottom line, culture, productivity and overall competitiveness in the market.

In this session, participants will learn how to:

  • implement many types of low or no-cost accommodations
  • bring forward practical approaches for employers to safely and effectively hire and retain people living with a mental illness
  • learn from the findings and experiences of real-life case studies that highlight the use of specific frameworks (such as the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace), training programs (such as Mental Health First Aid and The Working Mind)
  • develop effective accommodation practices you can use in your workplace

Session D3

Lead Better: “It’s Not You It’s Me?” A Leaders Guide to Gaslighting and Gender in the Workplace

Gaslighting is an emotional abuse tactic wherein the victim is made to doubt their own judgement and feelings. This talk will introduce the ways that subtle gender discrimination at work undermines women’s self-trust and efficacy, leading to that all-too-familiar doubting of one’s abilities and insights.

This talk explores the various structures that support gaslighting, its effects, and the impact it has on women at work. We’ll cover:

  • what gaslighting is and how to spot it
  • societal and workplace structures that support gaslighting
  • gender dynamics that promote gaslighting
  • emotional and practical costs of gaslighting
  • what to do if you are being gaslit (or if you’re the gaslighter)

You will gain an understanding of the ways that gaslighting can creep into your workplace, learn the practical effects it has on workplace gender balance, and give you the practical tools to combat it.

11:15 a.m.

Stretch Break

11:30 a.m.

Break-Out Sessions E (please select one)
Be Better: Workplace Mental Health
Lead Better: Problematic Substance Use

Session E1

Work Better: Making the Future Workplace a Better Workplace—Using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® To Explore The Future of Work

It seems everyone is talking about “The Future of Work.” For some it means a whole new world of possibility, while others fear it will mean massive job loss and disruption. In nearly all scenarios however “The Future of Work” is something that happens to people.

What if you could design your own future?

This session will allow you to explore and express your own vision of the future workplace through the innovative process of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. This hands-on approach unleashes new ways of thinking and innovating and enables everyone to have a voice in collaboration.

Among the questions we will explore will be:

  • What do you think about the future of work?
  • What skills will you bring to the future workplace?
  • What resources will you need to realize your vision?
  • How does your work fit with others on your team?

Session E2

Be Better: Stigma, Workplace Mental Health, and Keys to Changing Employee Behaviour

This session will feature a wide-ranging discussion of progress made to date on workplace mental health and the challenges that remain. Featuring leading practitioners, this conversation will include discussion on issues such as:

  • the state of mental illness in the workplace: where we are, and how far we’ve come
  • how best to measure the impact of mental health on performance
  • why is stigma so persistent and what really works to reduce it
  • beyond depression and anxiety: Emerging workplace mental health issues

The promise of new technologies with the potential to improve workplace mental health.

Session E3

October 17 and Beyond - Substance Use Disorder in the Workplace

Employers concerned with substance use disorder face two major challenges -  the dramatic and tragic increase in the abuse of opioids and the legalization of cannabis.  The impact of these two developments ensures that the issue of substance use will remain a priority for the foreseeable future

In this talk we will discuss the difference between recreational use of a substance and a substance use disorder and how they both impact productivity, attendance, functioning and safety in the workplace. We will also how best to address  all types of substance use (whether legal, authorized or illicit) and how communication, education and policy can best protect the employer, the employee and the community. 

And of course, with Cannabis becoming legal only a week after the conference, we will touch on how best to prepare for October 17, 2018.

12:30 p.m.

Networking Lunch

1:30 p.m.

Plenary Session 4
Only Connect: Building an Agile, Human Centred Workplace for Now and for Those That Follow
Eric Termuende and Lauren Waldman (a.k.a. The Learning Pirate)

In this high-energy closing session two leading thinkers on the future of work and learning will wrap up the event with an examination of the essentials of creating a Better Workplace.

Their focus will be on creating a Better Workplace now and for the future and will include discussion of how you can:

  • explore current changes taking place in your workplace
  • understand the imperative for the transformation of work
  • appreciate the central role of wellness in successful cultures
  • better address the multigenerational complexity of today’s workforce
  • leave a meaningful legacy for those that follow

3:15 p.m.

Closing Remarks from the Chair

3:30 p.m.

Conference Adjourns

October 10 October 11


Download Agenda 

Advisory Committee

The Better Workplace Conference values the insight and expertise of those who have embraced the journey of building better workplaces. An expert Advisory Committee helped us design the program, shape discussions, and ensure a great participant experience. We look forward to supporting you in your journey to build a better workplace.

Committee Members





Team of 2



Team of 4



Industry Leaders

Jessica Holmes

Jessica Holmes

Celebrated Comedian, Author, and Mental Health Advocate

Ryan McCarty

Ryan McCarty

Co-Founder, Culture of Good

Eric Termuende

Eric Termuende

Co-Founder of NoW Innovations, a Bestselling Author, and an International Speaker

Monique Marcotte

Monique Marcotte

Vice-President, People and Culture, CBC/Radio-Canada

Stuart Ellis-Myers

Stuart Ellis-Myers

also known as “Twitchy”
Owner, I Twitch, Inc.

Mary Ann Baynton

Mary Ann Baynton

Program Director,
Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace

All Speakers

Delegate Experience

On-Site Experiences

Interactive Audience Polling

Through interactive audience polling technology, you have the opportunity to participate—in real-time—during sessions.

Networking Opportunities

Through traditional networking breaks and an evening reception on day one, you have the opportunity to network with your peers and speakers. Discuss your favourite session, best practices, and lessons learned. Make new friends or connect with old ones!

Fitness Breaks

Don’t miss the chance to get up and move! Facilitated fitness breaks sponsored by UPnGO by Participaction will give you the chance to stretch and move in between sessions.

Event App

Our easy to use event app allows you to easily identify and connect with attendees, stay on top of program developments, assess speakers and sessions, and join a community of like-minded leaders who are passionate about building better workplaces. Continue the conversation with the valuable connections you’re going to make!

Complimentary Wi-Fi

Sitting woman meditating

Strategic Partner

Mental Health Commission of Canada bilingual logo

Major Partner

Great-West Life Assurance Company and GWL Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace logos


Shoppers Drug Mart logo
DriverCheck logo


Canadian HR Academy logo
Sensitivity Training Canada
WMA Wellness

Preferred Airline Partner

Mental Health Commission of Canada bilingual logo

Marketing Partners


Sponsor Event


Conference Venue

Vancouver Convention Centre West
1055 Canada Place
Vancouver BC


Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver
791 West Georgia Street
Vancouver BC

Conference fees don’t include accommodations. Please contact the hotel directly for reservations, and mention The Conference Board of Canada to receive the preferred rate of $209.00, available until Tuesday, September 18, 2018. Standard rooms are $209; premier city view rooms are $229.

Cancellation 24 hours prior to arrival with no penalty.

Please be sure to book your accommodations before September 18. After this date, the hotel may not have rooms available, and if rooms are available, rates will be significantly higher. Vancouver will be very busy over our event dates due to several large city-wide events, so securing accommodations at a later date may be difficult.

We are pleased to be partnering with Air Canada to offer 10% discounts on flex fares and up for The Better Workplace Conference.

Simply add the code 34TPQZH1 in the promotion box when you book your flight at www.aircanada.ca and the discounts will automatically calculate for you. Discounts also apply 7 days per and post the event dates to provide more flexibility. Enjoy your flight.


Convince Your Boss

With a shifted focus to the importance of workplace health and wellness, this event shines a spotlight on leaders who share their tools and insights so you return to work ready to engage in your better workplace.

Download Proposal


“Thank you for championing this conference and keeping on trend to communicate and support knowledge exchange at national levels.”

BWC Conference 2017 Attendee

“The ability to network and get fresh, new ideas in wellness strategies is vital, and this conference allows that to happen efficiently.”

BWC Conference 2017 Attendee

“I really enjoyed this well-organized and inspiring conference! Taking home some authentic happiness.”

BWC Conference 2017 Attendee

“This was my first time attending the Better Workplace Conference. I am so very blessed to have attended. Logistics, speakers, topics and even welcome committee-registration team members everything was professionally done. Well done to you all.”

BWC Conference 2017 Attendee

“Always interesting topics and informative speakers.”

BWC Conference 2017 Attendee

“I always go away enthused by what I have learned. Thanks to everyone for the work they put in to making the conference a success.”

BWC Conference 2017 Attendee

Program or Registration Questions?

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Insights. Understanding. Impact.

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© Copyright 2018 The Conference Board of Canada*
255 Smyth Road, Ottawa ON K1H 8M7 Canada
*Incorporated as AERIC Inc. Agreement No. 40063028