Join the Canada-wide conversation to improve organizational culture and employee wellbeing and safety.

For over two decades, the Better Workplace Conference has hosted a national conversation on creating a safe and healthy workplace. This April, we’re bringing together thought leaders, researchers, and you, industry experts, for an important, evidence-based discussion on workplace wellbeing in 2022.

What to expect

This event will be a virtual conference experience with engaging sessions that blend The Conference Board of Canada’s trusted research with inspirational stories and conversations.

This is your chance to expand your network, gain insights, and access practical tools to improve your organization’s culture.

Be part of the national conversation on workplace health and safety.

Discussions include:

  • Reimagining the Better Workplace: Explore the components of a healthy work culture and what “better” really means.
  • Workplace Health and Wellness Disruptors: Take a deep dive into the challenges leaders face today.
  • The Way Forward: Hear from leaders who are dedicated to cultivating a healthy and caring workplace culture.
Read more

Featured speakers

All speakers

Shelley Alderman

Shelley
Alderman

Pedro Antunes

Pedro
Antunes

Matthew Belliveau

Matthew
Belliveau

Bryan Benjamin

Bryan
Benjamin

Dr. Adrianna Berlingieri

Dr. Adrianna
Berlingieri

Carrie Bjola

Carrie
Bjola

Dr. Susan Black

Dr. Susan
Black

Silke Brabander

Silke
Brabander

Kathryn Dennler

Kathryn
Dennler

Esther Fleurimond

Esther
Fleurimond

Esther Fleurimond

Donna
Flaman-Johnson

Angela M. Francoeu

Angela M.
Francoeu

Corrina Hill

Corrina
Hill

Michael Hoffort

Michael
Hoffort

Wendy Landry

Wendy
Landry

Michael Lavis

Michael
Lavis

Bob Masterson

Bob
Masterson

Rachel McNeill-Thompson

Rachel
McNeill-Thompson

Erin Mills

Erin
Mills

Shairoz Moledina

Shairoz
Moledina

Maria-Jose Perea

Maria-Jose
Perea

Channa Perera

Channa S.
Perera

Tim Petersen

Tim
Petersen

Dan Pontefract

Dan
Pontefract

Iain Reeve

Iain
Reeve

Jennifer Richardson

Jennifer
Richardson

Megan Smith

Megan
Smith

Leah Sharpe

Leah
Sharpe

Michal Juul

Michal
Juul Sørensen

Twiladawn Stonefish

Twiladawn
Stonefish

Henrietta Van hulle

Henrietta
Van hulle

Jody Whitney

Jody
Whitney

Jennie Wilson

Jennie
Wilson

Jenny Winter

Jenny
Winter

Janet Young

Janet
Young

Agenda

Please note: All agenda times are in Eastern Daylight Time. See what time that is for you.

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Reimagining the Better Workplace

Three hours for Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

1:00 p.m.
Welcome Remarks
Bryan Benjamin

Vice-President, The Conference Board of Canada

Erin Mills

Director, Human Capital & Workplace Health, The Conference Board of Canada

1:05 p.m.
Plenary Keynote

Looking back over the past 24 months, it is fair to say we have been in some of the most challenging times ever in our careers. The pandemic has cast a long shadow, but we’ve also learned to adapt, to persevere, and to continue innovating.

Looking ahead, we might suggest that the so-called “future of work” is indeed an exercise in decoding the why of work right now. What should we do?

We must put relationships at the core of our leadership, build on our capacity to work differently, while simultaneously defining and enacting a sense of meaning in our workplaces.

It’s all doable. And yes, we might even have the pandemic to thank for thinking differently. Above all, we need tactics and techniques to improve our humanistic practices as we shift into a more caring leadership style. Let’s put the word human back in our humanity.

Dan Pontefract

Author, Speaker, Thinker, Leadership Strategist

1:35 p.m.
A Conversation With Pedro Antunes

Pedro will join Dan for a unique conversation on what companies need to know about the current state of labour in Canada. Their discussion will zero in on the economic and social complexity around labour shortages, resignations, and retention.

Pedro Antunes

Chief Economist, The Conference Board of Canada

Dan Pontefract

Author, Speaker, Thinker, Leadership Strategist

1:50 p.m.
Break
2:00 p.m.
Keynote

The World Health Organization calls stress "the health epidemic of the 21st century." Canada's corporate, government, and non-profit leaders are all too familiar with the debilitating stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The increased workloads, reactive workflows, economic uncertainty, and existential dread of the past two years have drastically diminished employee wellbeing on all levels: physical, emotional, and mental. A recent study by Workplace Strategies for Mental Health found that more than a third of working Canadians feel burned out, and other studies reveal that more than half of employees worldwide experienced full-blown burnout at least once during 2021.

But this state of affairs actually predates the pandemic: A 2019 Gallup survey found that 76% of employees had experienced some form of burnout. In the face of these numbers, we need to ask ourselves: Is self-care truly our best defense against chronic stress? And how much is burnout influenced by leadership decisions and workplace culture? In this eye-opening and personal keynote address, Hamza Khan, author of "The Burnout Gamble" and "Leadership, Reinvented", will make it clear that self-care is far from the best approach if we want to defeat burnout and build resilience. Instead of individualizing solutions, Khan says leaders must take a hard look at how they contribute to the systemic and cultural factors that make burnout inevitable. Hear action-oriented insights and real-world best practices that can promote holistic wellbeing and create a truly resilient workplace. It's time to go beyond burnout and reimagine the systems that affect workplace culture—starting with leadership.

By the end of this session, attendees will:

  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of the upstream factors that contribute to burnout.
  • Hear new burnout research that reveals the inefficacy of self-care.
  • Receive a framework to promote holistic wellbeing among their employees.
  • Appreciate the need to adopt a more human-centric leadership style.
  • Learn how to create a truly resilient workplace.
Hamza Khan

Future of Work Expert, Author of Leadership, Reinvented

2:50 p.m.
Break
3:10 p.m.
Concurrent sessions—Set A (please select one) (please select one)

A1: Leadership Perspectives: Using ESG Principles to Cultivate Psychological Safety, Trust, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Hear three different perspectives on how ESG (environmental, social, and governance) principles can foster a better workplace and contribute to improved psychological safety, trust, and inclusion within organizations.

Key takeaways from this session:

  • Better understand the role ESG plays in ensuring that trust and safety are the foundation for all organizational decisions.
  • Learn the crucial steps leaders can take to link the social aspect of ESG to healthy and inclusive workplace culture initiatives.
  • Hear how Northern employers are recognizing Inuit skills, knowledge, and perspectives and how Inuit communities are redefining the workplace to facilitate sustainable livelihoods.

Moderator:

Henrietta Van hulle

Vice President of Outreach, Stakeholder & Government Relations, PSHSA

Panelists:

Bob Masterson

President and CEO, Chemistry Industry Association of Canada

Channa S. Perera

Vice-President, Regulatory and Indigenous Affairs at Electricity Canada

Twiladawn Stonefish

Research Associate, Indigenous & Northern Communities, The Conference Board of Canada

A2: Creating a Culturally Safe Workplace for Indigenous Employees

Cultural safety considers how social and historical contexts and structural and interpersonal power imbalances can shape one’s experiences, both in day-to-day life and in the workplace.

Enbridge Gas will share how they foster cultural safety and trust with their Indigenous employees.

Attendees will hear:

  • examples of Enbridge’s efforts to improve engagement, employment, and retention of Indigenous talent across North America in order to achieve their goal of having 3.5% of their workforce be Indigenous people by 2025;
  • insights into how to identify and understand internal and external barriers to Indigenous employment;
  • an overview of Enbridge’s strategy to ensure they remain attentive and responsive to the needs of their Indigenous partners.

Moderator:

Corrina Hill

Manager for BC Hydro’s Health and Recovery Services, BC Hydro

Speakers:

Matthew Belliveau

Senior Research Associate, The Conference Board Of Canada

Wendy Landry

Senior Advisor Indigenous Initiatives & Indigenous Engagement, Enbridge Inc

Jody Whitney

Senior Strategist, Indigenous Collaboration

A3: Redefining the Future of Work in a Post-Pandemic World

The term “future of work” was coined to describe what office life will look like in a post-pandemic world. But this phrase envisions the future as an endpoint when, in fact, the workplace journey will continue to evolve indefinitely. Several facets of work, such as technology, environment, policies, and benefits, will each need to be re-evaluated with a fresh perspective to create an optimal company culture in a modern corporate environment—the ultimate differentiator to attract and retain the best talent.

In this engaging session, Megan Smith, head of HR at SAP Canada, will explore questions and provide practical advice for leaders who are designing the future of work for their organizations, such as:

  • How does technology support virtual work and transform flexible workspaces? 
  • How much flexibility in working time and location will empower people while also ensuring customer and business needs are met?
  • How can we achieve both the benefits of remote work and the joy, engagement, and learning that come from developing in-person working relationships? 
  • Who is marginalized by this new work arrangement?

 

Moderator:

Tim Petersen

Acting President and CEO, WorkSafeNB

Speakers:

Megan Smith

Head of HR, SAP Canada

Workplace Health and Wellness Disrupters: The Strategy and Risk of Today’s Key Challenges

Three hours for Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

12:00 p.m.
Sponsorship Workshop

WSPS supports organizations incorporate psychological health and safety into their corporate culture to create a more engaged, more productive, and healthier workforce. Discover WSPS’s Mental Harm Prevention Roadmap, which facilitates the creation of mental health strategies appropriate for the needs of Canadian organizations. The Roadmap helps guide intentional action by employers in alignment with the recommendations of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. Hear more about the latest research results and an evidence-based approach to promoting mental health and preventing mental harm based on 13 factors that support psychological health and safety in the workplace.

Key takeaway:

  • Practical tools to implement a psychologically safe, healthy, and thriving work environment, leading to a positive employee experience that nurtures engagement, productivity, and mental health.

Speaker:

 Esther Fleurimond

Specialized Consultant in Healthy Workplaces, WSPS

12:45 p.m.
Break
1:00 p.m.
Welcome Remarks
Erin Mills

Director, Human Capital & Workplace Health, The Conference Board of Canada

1:05 p.m.
Plenary Panel

Strong mental health is key for employee engagement, wellbeing, and productivity. Organizations, and the programs they provide, play a pivotal role in supporting employees’ wellness.

This session will highlight preliminary findings from a recent Conference Board of Canada study with companies across Canada to identify key areas of where mental health programming can yield the greatest returns and most benefit to employees into the future.

Moderator:

Erin Mills

Director, Human Capital and Workplace Health, The Conference Board of Canada

Panelists:

Rachel McNeill-Thompson

Assistant Vice-President, Marketing, Communications and Client Experience, Group Benefits

Michal Juul Sørensen

Vice President and General Manager, Lundbeck Canada

Maria-Jose Perea

VP, Product Innovation, Group Insurance and Savings Solutions

1:50 p.m.
Break
2:00 p.m.
Keynote

Change is almost always met with resistance, fear, and the attempt to avoid the unknown. Change in a workplace starts from the top down. With a lack of leadership buy-in, communication, and modelling, many change programs are destined for disaster. As a senior leader or middle management, how do you effectively lead through change and uncertainty?

Dr. Lisa Bélanger shares key techniques leaders can use to inspire and facilitate corporate change and provides case studies on how leaders who model behaviours at work (virtual, hybrid, or in person) have a direct, positive impact on an organization’s bottom line.

Beyond personal influence, this talk explores how to set up a physical and social environment and culture to support the desired change. Lisa will lead you through what questions to ask, how to develop a clear strategy, and how to understand your role in implementing sustainable, meaningful change for teams and organizations.

 Dr. Lisa Bélanger

Behavioural Change Expert, Researcher

2:50 p.m.
Break
3:10 p.m.
Concurrent sessions—Set B (please select one)

B1: Effective Mental Wellbeing Strategies: Examples From the Field

Establishing and implementing an employee mental health and wellbeing strategy within an organization’s culture is a continuous journey. Three employers will share their experiences integrating their mental health and wellbeing strategies into organizational priorities, policies, and practices.

Key takeaways:

  • an understanding of the critical components of an employee mental health and wellbeing strategy;
  • recommendations for effective and successful implementation of these strategies;
  • lessons learned and other considerations for organizations looking at implementing a mental health and wellbeing strategy.

Moderator:

Shairoz Moledina

Senior Manager, Workplace Well-being, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Panelists

Carrie Bjola

Executive Director, Saskatchewan Public Service Commission, Government of Saskatchewan

Jenny Winter

Vice President, Global HR Center of Expertise, Talent, Culture, and Learning, CGI 

Janet Young

Director, People & Culture, Well-being & Health Services, TELUS

B2: Responding to Domestic Violence in the Workplace

Learn how organizations can respond to domestic violence in the workplace. A diverse panel of experts, including a researcher, a policy expert, and a small business owner, will share their expertise and experience on designing and implementing tools, best practices, and policies that support impacted employees and mitigate harm.

Attendees will:

  • Explore actions leaders can take to recognize safety issues and ensure they meet their legislated responsibilities to protect employees.
  • Gain insight into still-emerging pandemic-related workplace challenges and discuss best practices in the field.
  • Learn about available resources, toolkits, and practical steps organizations can take to support impacted employees.

Moderator:

Angela M. Francoeur

Angela M. Francoeur

BBA, WorkSafeNB / Travail sécuritaire NB, Interim Director of Strategic Planning / Directrice par intérim de la planification stratégique

Panelists:

Dr. Adriana Berlingieri

PhD, Organizational Consultant, Researcher, Educator/Facilitator, Academic Research Associate, Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children, Western University

Silke Brabander

Senior Policy & Program Advisor in Violence Prevention at the Women’s Equality Branch of Executive Council Office with the Province of New Brunswick

Jennie Wilson

Owner, 11th Mile restaurant

B3: Immigration Inclusion in the Workplace

With many industries facing persistent labour shortages, it is increasingly important for businesses to leverage immigrant talent. But many immigrants in Canada are overqualified for the jobs they are in. Studies show that addressing underemployment could contribute $50 billion to Canada’s GDP each year. This session examines the role of Canada’s immigration system in meeting labour market needs and the steps businesses must take to create a positive work environment for newcomers. Attendees will learn:

  • which immigration channels can address labour shortages in different sectors;
  • why it is important for immigrants to get a first job in Canada that is commensurate with their experience;
  • who can play a role in advancing immigrant inclusion in the workplace.

Panelists:

Kathryn Dennler

Research Associate, The Conference Board of Canada

Iain Reeve

Associate Director, Immigration Research, The Conference Board of Canada

The Way Forward: Toward a Healthy Workplace Culture

Three hours for Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

1:00 p.m.
Welcome Remarks
Dr. Susan Black

Chief Executive Officer, The Conference Board of Canada

1:05 p.m.
Plenary Panel

Neurodiversity is an area of inclusion that is becoming increasingly important for workplaces and employees. Hear some preliminary research findings from CBoC, followed by an impactful and informative story from Michael, Leah, and Leslie of Farm Credit Canada. Donna from the 4to40 program will build on this story to share a successful and innovative model that is working to support neurodiverse people from education through to employment.

Key takeaways:

  • Hear the latest insights from The Conference Board of Canada’s research on strengthening the engagement of neurodiverse workers.
  • Learn about the benefits of hiring neurodiverse workers and the available supports.
  • Engage with employers and employees who have implemented innovative and inclusive hiring practices.

Panelists:

Shelley Alderman

Shelley Alderman

Administrative Clerk, Risk Division, FCC

Donna Flaman-Johnson

Inclusive Employment Broker, University of Regina

Michael Hoffort

President and Chief Executive Officer, FCC

Leah Sharpe

Director, HR, Farm Credit Canada, FCC

1:50 p.m.
Break
2:00 p.m.
Keynote

The effects of COVID-19 have left many people feeling lonely and isolated. Burnout rates have reached an all-time high. People are overwhelmed. Now more than ever, we need to talk about mental health. In this interactive and upbeat presentation, Anthony offers effective self-care strategies, practical coping skills for stress, and proven resources to avoid burnout. Above all, Anthony reminds us that mental health is a journey we take as a community. When we support each other, we break the stigma around mental health and empower those who need it the most. Learning outcomes:

  • Understand the difference between everyday ups and downs, temporary mental health problems, and mental illnesses
  • Learn healthy coping skills to deal with stress and anxiety
  • See the role exercise, sleep, hydration, and nutrition play in mental health
  • Empowers participants to reach out for help when they need it

Moderator:

Michael Lavis

Founder & CEO of Creative Options Regina (COR)

Speaker:

Anthony McLean

Leadership, Mental Health, Inclusivity

2:50 p.m.
Break
3:10 p.m.
Plenary

Creating a great organization isn’t just about breaking down cultural barriers. It’s about building a workplace where everyone works toward a common purpose, feels a sense of belonging (not a sense of longing to be), and feels included, regardless of title, rank, or position. Inclusive leaders understand that people don’t leave jobs—they leave people. They believe not only in investing in themselves, but in encouraging others to grow, learn, and build inclusivity and trust. Why? To break down silos, foster employee engagement, encourage open lines of communication, promote creativity, offer a safe place to land, and create a healthy, happy, and inspiring workplace.

Key takeaways:

  • Psychological safety is the key to belonging and inclusion in the workplace.
  • Understand microaggressions: Intention and impact.
  • How to give feedback that is constructive, continuous, influential, inclusive, and solution-based.
  • Death by meeting: Learn the five key steps to inclusive and effective meetings.
  • Creating a culture of inclusion starts with authenticity.
  • Negative Nellie and Nasty Ned: How to actively listen, include, and empathize to change negative behaviours at work.

 

Tina Varughese

Cross-Cultural Communication and Diversity Expert

Attend the conference, receive a certificate

Did you know that the Better Workplace Conference is now approved for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours? That means for attending, you will receive 9 hours towards your CPD requirement.

Advisory board

Angela M. Francoeur

Angela M. Francoeur

BBA, WorkSafeNB / Travail sécuritaire NB, Interim Director of Strategic Planning / Directrice par intérim de la planification stratégique

Corrina Hill

Corrina Hill

Manager, Health and Recovery Services, BC Hydro

Michael Lavis

Michael Lavis

Chief Executive Officer, Creative Options Regina

Lyne Wilson

Shairoz Moledina

Senior Manager, Workplace Well-being, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Tim Petersen

Tim Petersen

Interim President and CEO, WorksafeNB

Jennifer Richardson

Jennifer Richardson

Director, Corporate Health, Safety & Environment, Royal Canadian Mint

Henrietta Van hulle

Henrietta Van hulle

Senior Manager, Vice President, Client Outreach, Stakeholder & Government Relations at Public Services Health & Safety Association

Past event

Previous conference highlights

Our previous conference, the Better Workplace Virtual Conference 2020, brought together thought leadership, case studies, and engaging discussions to address unique challenges and opportunities that are emerging for Canadian organizations. Here are some highlights:

557

Past registrations

Attendees by
job function

Services Public admin. Finance, insurance, and real estate Unknown Transportation, communication, utility services Manufacturing Other

Attendees by
job title

CEO Vice President Director Manager Technical Admin. Student Unknown

Some of our noteworthy speakers from BWC 2020

Ron Tite

Ron Tite

Purpose-Driven Leadership and Marketing Expert, Founder of Church+State content marketing agency

Liane Davey

Liane Davey

PhD, psychologist, business strategist, author, keynote speaker

Camille Dundas

Camille Dundas

Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, ByBlacks.com

Sponsors

Is your organization interested in being a sponsor? View our sponsorship packages and contact us to find out about the sponsorship opportunities and benefits.

Thank you to all of our sponsors, who help make our events possible.


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