Nova Scotia’s First Employee-Rated Employer of Choice: Cambridge Suites Hotel, Sydney

There is a compelling new reason to stay at the Cambridge Suites Hotel property in Sydney. 

The hotel already has an excellent reputation for offering a welcoming home base for guests in town for business and pleasure and it now lays claim to Nova Scotia’s first Employee-Rated Employer of Choice (EOC) designation.

“Our employees are our most important asset and we are very excited to receive the EOC designation,” says Cathy Burt, Human Resources Manager, Cambridge Suites Hotels.

The EOC program is a free tool that allows employees to rate employers based on established standards in the workplace.  It provides tailored recommendations and resources to help employers achieve EOC status.  Created by human resource specialists, the program is designed to address the needs of businesses of all sizes and it has the flexibility to assess multiple business locations and individual departments.  The program contributes to shaping a skilled Canadian tourism workforce by encouraging employers to motivate and train talented staff.

Sharing the EOC philosophy, the hotel’s management strongly believes that professional development opportunities attract outstanding candidates and facilitate the retention of the very best staff.  An active supporter of the nationally recognized emerit certification program, since 2005 the hotel has certified 85% of their staff in their chosen career through emerit.  “We have employees asking to participate in the certification process when they see that it represents a personal achievement and valuable industry recognition,” says Ms. Burt. 

Heather Jessome has been with the hotel since it opened 20 years ago.  As the Front Office Manager, Ms. Jessome benefited from the Cambridge Suites Hotel, Sydney’s commitment to professional development at all stages of her career path.  She thinks that training and certification set standards and ensure consistency that allows her to effectively represent both the property and the tourism sector.  “Training and certification raise the bar for the service you provide,” says Ms. Jessome.  “They build on existing skills and that increases your confidence.”

Employee loyalty is a valuable asset and according to Ms. Burt, the Cambridge Suites Hotel, Sydney staff turnover rate is lower than the national average.  The key factors that influence employee loyalty, according to Ms. Jessome, are the people they work with and the culture that the Cambridge Suites Hotel, Sydney has cultivated over the years.  “Our internal guests [staff] are the heart of the hotel,” says Ms. Jessome.  “Now we know that they know it.  That’s the best recognition you can get.”

It may be the best recognition but it isn’t the only recognition the hotel gets.  The Cambridge Suites Hotel, Sydney has been recognized for its exemplary human resource standards by its inclusion in the list of the best places to work in Atlantic Canada and as the recipient of the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) Human Resource award in 2008.
Their online review page overflows with appreciative notes from all over North America.

What is the secret to excellent customer service?  Ms. Burt believes it starts with the staff.  “When employees are treated well and with respect, they offer it back to the guests.” 

Ms. Jessome says that she looks forward to every workday.  Every morning begins with a smile, a good attitude and a commitment to creating and maintaining an open line of communication with guests.  The rest is all teamwork.  “By individually taking a genuine interest in each of our guests,” Ms. Jessome explains, “the entire team works together to provide the best experience for our guests.” 

Nova Scotia is proud that one of its own has earned this national distinction.  “The Cambridge Suites Hotel, Sydney has proven that ongoing support and investment in employees is a valuable business strategy for recruitment and retention,” says Darlene Grant Fiander, President of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS). 

TIANS is looking forward to working with other employers as they work toward EOC designation, an activity that Ms. Burt supports.  “Employee feedback is essential to the success of every business,” she says.  “I recommend this process to any other establishment interested in earning EOC designation.”

For more information or to sign up for the employee-rated Employer of Choice program, please visit