By Dan Rubinstein
Photos by Giordano Ciampini
Over the past decade, Carleton University has made it a priority to ensure that students, faculty and staff are immersed in a supportive, safe and healthy workplace culture.
Whether it’s joining a lunch-time yoga class or a recreational sports league, choosing to take the stairs instead of an elevator, attending a workshop on work-life balance, mental health training or a seminar on dealing with financial challenges, members of the Carleton community are encouraged to participate in programs that are designed to facilitate holistic health and wellness.
The overarching message of this movement is clear: Carleton is more than a collection of buildings and individuals; it’s a place where people can grow and develop, and contribute to teams doing meaningful work.
“We’ve grown the culture to focus on health promotion, mental health and work-life balance,” said Ed Kane, the university’s assistant vice-president (University Services) and chair of Carleton’s Healthy Workplace committee.
“It’s been a slow organic process from the early days. We see ourselves becoming a leader in higher education and in Canada as a healthy workplace.”
The university’s Finance and Administration division is also committed to implementing the Excellence, Innovation and Wellness standard, which focuses on developing strong leadership, the customer experience, staff engagement and continuous improvement in the way the division works. The division has demonstrated its commitment to service excellence by being people focused and excellence driven.
“Excellence, Innovation and Wellness is not just a program,” said Michel Piché, vice-president (Finance and Administration).
“Over the years, it has become part of our culture within the Finance and Administration division. It is not something we simply did, achieved and then moved on. The criteria within Excellence, Innovation and Wellness Gold Level certification are linked to our strategic goals and have guided us, and will continue to guide us, through our continuous improvement journey. We are proud to be the first university to reach this level of certification.”
This university-wide effort was recognized on Nov. 9 at the Canada Awards for Excellence ceremony in Toronto, where Carleton became the first post-secondary institution in the country to win three awards for creating a safe and healthy environment on its campus.
Focusing on People
“Carleton stands out as an organization that focuses on the health of its people, including their mental health, and places a high priority on creating a culture that values wellness,” said Karen Jackson of Excellence Canada, the independent not-for-profit that presents the annual achievement awards to organizations in Canadian private, public and non-profit sectors.
“Their systematic approach to wellness has proven successful in making workplace wellness for staff and faculty a way of life, embedding wellness into all aspects of the organization’s operations.”
Carleton won the Platinum Level Award in the Healthy Workplace category, the Silver Level Award in Mental Health at Work, and the Gold Level Award in Excellence, Innovation and Wellness for the Finance and Administration division.
“This is a proud moment for us,” said Carleton President Alastair J.S. Summerlee, who accepted the awards.
“This is formal recognition of Carleton’s commitment to continuous improvement and dedication to providing a safe, healthy and supportive work environment on our campus.”
The Excellence Canada awards demonstrate that Carleton is viewed as both a leader and role model for being an organization that values excellence, innovation and wellness.
This attitude starts from the top, and Carleton’s leadership team has not only set the strategic direction for employee wellness, including a robust multi-year mental health strategy, but is “walking the talk” and actively participates in university wellness activities, such as Carleton sports teams and the CU Healthier Challenge.
The Carleton approach provides guiding principles for creating a healthy workplace culture where faculty and staff feel valued, motivated and engaged.
Specifically, Carleton is being recognized by Excellence Canada for its comprehensive and integrated approach to both physical and psychological health and safety; its sound systemic approach to organizational excellence, innovation and healthy workplaces; continuous improvement as a “way of life,” which means constantly assessing, improving and monitoring initiatives for effectiveness; and widespread quantifiable improvement as a result of moving from reactive to proactive practices, which has led to sick time below industry averages, increasing employee engagement trends and increasing employee participation in Healthy Workplace events.
A Team Dedicated to Quality
As chair of Carleton’s Healthy Workplace committee, Kane is one of the leading champions of the focus on health promotion, work-life balance and mental health
Collaborating with colleagues such as Cindy Taylor, director of the Office of Quality Initiatives, and Healthy Workplace Officer Samantha Munro, he strives to develop programs that are relevant and accessible to all members of the university community.
“We believe that a ‘healthy workplace’ translates into a great experience for both our faculty and staff, and ultimately, our students,” said Kane.
“Carleton University is now recognized as a leader in these areas and is being sought out by other organizations because they have been inspired by our achievements.”
The day before the Excellence Canada awards ceremony in Toronto, Kane was recognized for his personal efforts, winning the Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Jr. Legacy Award from the National Association of College Auxiliary Services (NACAS) for his leadership, commitment to volunteerism and community service.
“Under his leadership on campus, University Services has grown and continuously explores ways to deliver the best services,” Piché wrote in a message to the Carleton community about Kane’s award, which was bestowed at the NACAS conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“Ed has been the longtime champion and chair of the Healthy Workplace Committee and mental health initiative for faculty and staff. He has also overseen the growth and strengthening of our many business partnerships. His dedication to leadership, mentorship and volunteerism was highlighted repeatedly, as well as his pioneering spirit. We are proud of Ed’s accomplishments and congratulate him on this well-deserved award.”
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