Opportunities NB (ONB) is honoured to again be recognized among Atlantic Canada’s Top Employers. This designation, which recognizes employers that lead their industries in offering exceptional workplaces, was awarded by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers using a variety of criteria.

Announced on February 3rd, this recognition comes hot on the heels of Waterstone Canada including ONB in their 2021 list of Canada’s Most Admired™ Corporate Cultures in November, the second time our organization has received this distinction. Our team is thrilled to be recognized alongside groups like Moncton’s Medavie in the Broader Public Sector category – culture continues to be one of our key differentiators.

Awards aside, why is an organization’s culture important? Why does it matter? ONB believes our case demonstrates that accolades aren’t all that comes from a robust and thoughtful corporate culture. We spoke to our CEO and COO to learn more.

Culture Attracts Talent

“People will work where they feel respected, valued, supported, and engaged. Being recognized with these distinctions, and being listed alongside these successful and well-known organizations, shows that ONB recognizes that fact, and that gives us even greater ability to recruit top talent,” says ONB CEO Sadie Perron. “A focus on culture and employee engagement has helped our organization attract great people, and it continues to show each year in our results.”

“It begins with the recruiting process. Technical skills are important, of course, but we place a large emphasis on hiring for culture fit,” says ONB COO Traci Simmons. “We look for people that have the passion for the work and who are eager to make a difference. We have consistently found great talent who care deeply about the prosperity of our province and are anxious to get started on the work. When you have those people on board, and they’re supported, you get results.”

Maintaining Your Culture in Challenging Times

Simmons says ONB’s commitment to its team was evident in the face of COVID-19 and the move to an at-home workforce in the early pandemic days.

“Our Employee Experience Team ensured that our people had what they needed to be set up for success at home. Yes, this was vital for business continuity, but it went beyond that,” she notes. “During the height of that initial wave, we did not wait for employees to reach out with an issue. Instead, we proactively called everyone at home to check in and see how they were doing. Did they need anything, like mental health support or even a sympathetic ear, asking simple questions like ‘are you ok?’. It can’t be overstated how important that level of support was”.

A Culture Shaped by New Brunswick Businesses

“The COVID-19 response is a great example of culture focus. Caring about your team, meeting them where they are, supporting them both personally and professionally, and being flexible,” says Perron. “All of this will be important moving forward as many companies adopt hybrid workforces. This is the new normal for a lot of people and businesses.”

ONB is in the unique position of being able to learn culture best practices from the thousands of employers we work with every day.

“We can only get better the more we listen to and engage with great businesses and find out how they are finding great talent in a tight labour market”, notes Simmons. “There’s a symbiosis there – we learn their stories, incorporate their successes into our own strategy, and help other companies with that knowledge. All of this effort is intentional. We invest in culture and our employees because we know when you create the conditions where people can succeed, then they will”

Students Play a Key Role

One of New Brunswick’s (and ONB’s) challenges is ensuring we have a robust talent pipeline for industry. ONB recognizes that student retention is essential to helping New Brunswick meet the workforce needs it faces now and in the future. “To help ensure we retain talent in the province and to ‘walk the talk’, we do our best to show young professionals that there are great career opportunities at home,” says Simmons. “We have made employing students a priority and see it as our responsibility to ensure that while students are with ONB that they are getting valuable professional experience that they can carry forward into their next job.”

Students help shape our culture, not only through participation in our various employee-led culture teams (Social, Recognition, Health & Wellness, Giving Back, and Diversity & Inclusion) but by bringing new ideas and fresh perspectives to our team. Our goal is to connect them to the many opportunities across the province and help them prepare for an incredible career right here in New Brunswick.

Several ONB employees began their journeys to our team as international students, including Nicole Grechi and Pruthvi Brahmbhatt. “Like any jurisdiction serious about growth, increased immigration and retention are critical,” notes Perron. “International students have an important role to play here, and if we can model for our clients the importance of giving these students an opportunity, we will.”

Wish to learn more about ONB’s student program? Contact us.

Keep an eye on our Work For Us page for future opportunities to join our team.