The Bright Side of Business is presented by Star Motors.
Chris Stone has had an exciting career, from being a paramedic to a commercial diver to a construction safety specialist. Today, he’s a health, safety and disability specialist at Ross Video — a company he says he’ll retire with.
It’s not hard to see why: recently, Ross Video became the first Canadian Compassionate Company (CCC), certified by Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, recognizing the support and care the company gives its employees.
“Throughout COVID-19, our primary focus has been on ensuring the health and well-being of our employees,” said CEO David Ross in a news release upon receiving the recognition. “When they need time off work to care for a loved one who is terminally ill, the right thing to do is to offer them understanding, empathy and job protection. An official CCC designation humanizes that mindset and demonstrates our commitment to our people and their families.”
This award-winning care is something that Stone experienced firsthand at Ross Video, which provides solutions and services to the live production industry. Last year, he was busy setting up a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at work that would serve staff and community members alike. Just as he was preparing to accept the first few visitors, Stone received a call from his mother, who told him that his father, who had terminal cancer, was at the hospital.
“I immediately ran home,” Stone recalls. “I called my director on the way and I said, ‘I need to go to the hospital; (my dad) is probably not coming out.’”
Stone was a two-hour drive from the hospital. As soon as he hit Hwy. 401, he got a call from his colleague, Cathy McCallion.
“She said, ‘I just heard what's happening, are you okay?’, no mention about work or the tasks I'd left unfinished,” Stone says.
He put McCallion on speakerphone and, for the whole drive, she “made sure I was calm, that I wasn't going to get into an accident and that I wasn't completely falling apart, flying 100 (km/h) down the highway.”
Stone was able to say goodbye to his father. “It proved to me that I've landed in the right place,” he says. “This is the company I want to stay with until I retire.”
Building a healthy team culture takes hard work. “It’s possibly some of the most important documents I ever wrote,” Ross says of the policies he initiated.
When Ross moved to Ottawa to start the Ross Ottawa Lab for Research and Development, there were only five employees at the facility. Now, 25 years later, it’s grown to a 600-person operation across a multi-campus building.
“Everything I needed to know to work at Ross Video, I learned in kindergarten,” Ross explains. “Play nice with others, treat each other with respect, maybe don't run with scissors.”
Today, despite employing over 1,300 people, Ross says he often hears that the business “feels like a small, family-run company.”
“You care about people and then they will care about the company, they'll care about your customers. It’s a virtuous circle — to me, this is good business.”
Private- and public-sector employers qualify as a CCC if they have formal human resource policies that accommodate employees who are unpaid caregivers with paid leave options, a supportive work culture and job protection.
Since the CCC designation, Ross himself has experienced loss when his stepmother passed away. She had been unknowingly living with stage-three cancer and her health declined rapidly. Ross and his family put his stepmother on life support.
"The thought of (having to say), as I'm beside my 87-year-old father in the hospital, watching his grief, 'Well, I'm sorry, but if I don't go back to work tomorrow, I'm going to lose my job.' I would not think much of my company at that moment."
“We didn't know whether she was going to pass away in an hour, in a minute or in two weeks,” Ross remembers. During those days, Ross thought a lot about compassionate care.
“I'm living it personally, with the founder of the company, my father,” he explains. “The thought of (having to say), as I'm beside my 87-year-old father in the hospital, watching his grief, ‘Well, I'm sorry, but if I don't go back to work tomorrow, I'm going to lose my job.’ I would not think much of my company at that moment.”
Ross’ stepmother passed away after five days on life support. “It makes it very real,” Ross adds. “It's not just a policy. It's not just something that we happen to qualify for; it's nice to be able to take care of people in moments like that.”
“Most of us have experienced the death or dying of someone close to us,” adds Ross’ director of employee development and recruitment Mary Clement. “In the battle for top talent, we know employees are very interested in how we treat our staff. The CCC designation is another way we can demonstrate, through an independent national association’s review and official designation, that our commitments, HR policies and values put people first. At Ross, we believe that compassion belongs in every workplace.”
The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association strives for all Canadians to have equal access to quality hospice palliative care for themselves and their family.
“The movement to grow compassion within an organization’s workplace culture is gaining momentum and employers have an important role,” says the chair of the association’s champion’s council Russell Williams. “Unsupported employees are more likely to use more sick days, be less productive and even quit their job if the demands of work outweigh their capacity to care for a loved one and grieve their loss. If every company followed the Ross example, productivity, employee satisfaction, retention, and recruitment would thrive.”
The Bright Side of Business is an editorial feature focused on sharing positive stories of business success.
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