WorkLife BC award nomination for UBC Okanagan

UBC Okanagan has been nominated for a WorkLife BC Award. Sponsored by the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the award recognizes B.C. employers who have developed workplaces that support their employees to balance commitments to work and family.

“UBC Okanagan is a vibrant campus community,” says Doug Owram, Deputy Vice Chancellor at UBC Okanagan. “We believe it is important to create and maintain a healthy working and learning environment that fosters excellence and mutual respect. That’s not something we see as a frill -- it is key to achieving our mission and advancing our vision as a leading academic community.”

“Being nominated for a WorkLife BC Award is very meaningful to us,” says Leanne Bilodeau who leads UBC Okanagan’s Healthy Workplace Culture Strategy. “It indicates that we’re on the right path to doing the things we should be doing to create a healthy workplace.”

Bilodeau notes that research -- including work by Dr. Graham Lowe, professor emeritus at the University of Alberta and a keynote presenter at UBC Okanagan’s Health Symposium last spring -- indicates that a healthy, sustainable workplace culture goes beyond traditional health promotion programs.

“It’s a set of values and a way of being that is directly linked to employee engagement and retention and the positive experience of our staff, faculty and students,” she says, adding that UBC Okanagan encourages work-life balance through policies, programs and services such as:

  • Flexible work schedules, including job sharing, telecommuting and education leave
  • Support for child care, including an on-campus daycare, and elder care needs
  • An annual day-long Health Symposium offering health screening and seminars on topics such as learning how to reclaim your time, and achieving work-life balance
  • A confidential counseling service available to faculty and staff and family or household members to help out with any problem that affects their family life, work or general well-being

“The Healthy Workplace Culture Strategy has unequivocal support from UBC Okanagan’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Provost, the executive director of administration and finance, and other senior leaders,” Bilodeau says. “Whether initiated by the university or by faculty and staff, or through a partnership between employer and employees, programs to balance work and life are welcomed, and they help people in our community achieve a balance of lifestyle.”

UBC Okanagan has a fully equipped gymnasium running lunchtime yoga and boot camp classes, and the Pole Cats lunch-hour walking club created by members of the campus community. Other ways work-life balance is encouraged include an annual cycling expo, September welcome back staff barbeque, and an annual holiday celebration in December hosted by the Deputy Vice Chancellor.

“We are fortunate that our campus has a great variety of supports, services and activities for students, faculty and staff,” says Bilodeau. “But we’re always looking at ways to do more, or do things better, based on feedback from our community.”

As a result of Healthy Workplace Culture Strategy consultations and related research with the campus community, a number of projects are underway to address community issues as diverse as drinking water quality, campus trails, bike storage units, and strategies to enhance the social sustainability of the campus.

Winners of the WorkLife BC Awards will be announced on Feb. 1 at a ceremony in Vancouver.

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