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Bringing well-being to the workplace

Fostering a healthy, diverse workplace of engaged employees

As an organization focused on well-being, SunOpta is committed to providing a productive, healthy and safe environment for employees. In doing so, the company creates an open, transparent and communicative workplace that recognizes accomplishments and high performance. SunOpta continues to engage its employees and leverage their talent, skills and passion to drive sustainable business results.

Key Performance Metrics

33% reduction in Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) compared to 2014

With more than 1,800 employees worldwide, SunOpta's people are its greatest strength. The company continues to make progress towards "destination zero."

25% year-over-year improvement in the company's employee engagement grand mean score, with 35% of employees considered "engaged" according to Gallup survey methodology.

SunOpta is working to engage its workforce to drive growth and improve operational performance.

70% of employees participating in workplace wellness program

SunOpta nourishes health and wellness by providing tools and resources that support employee well-being.

Fostering employee health and safety

SunOpta attaches great importance to being an injury-free workplace and is proud of its journey towards becoming a world-class safety organization. Safety excellence is realized when zero associates are injured in the workplace; SunOpta calls this "destination zero."

Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) Reduction

SunOpta reduced its TRIR by 33% in 2015 compared to 2014. The actual injury count fell from 75 in 2014 to 50 in 2015 on similar man-hours of exposure. SunOpta's TRIR for 2015 was 46% less than industry peers.*

Improvements in safety are the result of the combined efforts of management and associates including:

  • Facilities completed "cultural surveys" to target enhancements to their safety programs and efforts
  • Engagement with associate's families by continued sponsorship of our safety calendar contest
  • Enhanced, interactive associate safety training programs piloted
  • Employee Safety Committees were established, maintained and/or improved across the enterprise
  • Near miss safety reporting programs expanded and improved
  • Safety and Health Accident Reduction Plans (SHARP) introduced in multiple locations
  • "Safety Champion" positions trialed at several locations

* Comparing SunOpta's 2015 Total Recordable Incident Rate to published 2014 TRIR data (the most recent available) for industry peers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Food Mfg. NAICS 311: )

Engaging for success

SunOpta conducted its second annual employee engagement survey with its employees in partnership with Gallup. In 2015, over 79% of employees responded to the Gallup survey. SunOpta's overall employee engagement improved 25% year-over-year, to 35% engaged in 2015 from 28% in the previous year. The national average of engaged employees is 32% according to the Gallup survey.

Engagement in Grace City, N.D.

In 2015, SunOpta's facility in Grace City, North Dakota excelled in employee engagement. The facility demonstrated the highest site-based score in the company. Kent Johnson, Plant Manager in Grace City, set realistic expectations around employee engagement early in the year and focused his team's effort on two factors of employee engagement: recognition and commitment to quality.

Cross-functional committees interacted with employees in the plant and tracked their engagement progress throughout the year. Employee engagement levels, progress and areas of concern were reported on daily management boards for better visibility. Management solicited employee feedback about improving employee engagement on a regular basis.

Management Foundations

SunOpta understands the relationship between improved employee engagement and improved business performance. With over 70 new leaders and 400 employees joining SunOpta over the past two years, the company recognizes the need for a standardized approach to management development. Management Foundations, developed in 2015, targets four key areas for improved management training:

  • Increase self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses
  • Become further grounded in company expectations for respect in the workplace
  • Refine interview and candidate selection skills
  • Learn to effectively process change

Management Foundations was piloted in Q1 of 2016 at SunOpta's facility in Crookston, Minn. and SunOpta will launch the program in all facilities by the end of 2016 and follow with further modules in 2017 for ongoing development.

SunOpta's focus is on increasing employee engagement at the local level. Through linking leadership objectives directly with local employee engagement initiatives, the company is quickly realizing the benefits of an engaged workforce. Rewards and recognition are key components of the company's strategy to provide employees with an individual sense of purpose and focused energy.

Nurturing Employee Health and Well-Being

For the past three years, SunOpta has partnered with Vitality, an activity-based health and wellness partner, to help employees live healthy lifestyles at work and at home. To support employees' healthy lifestyles, a range of resources are available including health webcasts, online courses, CPR/First Aid certification and mental well-being reviews. Activity tracking devices are distributed to employees registered with Vitality. Monthly challenges are organized to encourage active routines and employees are rewarded based on their wellness accomplishments.

SunOpta's comprehensive benefits package supports employee efforts to live a healthier lifestyle, providing:

  • Discounted fitness club memberships
  • Grocery discounts through HealthyFood™ reward program
  • Onsite biometric screening
  • Interactive health risk assessments and preventive measures including flu shots and dental checkups
  • Free FitBit™ to help employees track their physical activities

SunOpta's participation in Vitality not only helps employees stay healthy and fit, but also improves employee engagement.