Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 1, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Carleton University was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2021):
- Carleton University manages an extensive healthy workplace initiative, supported by a dedicated healthy workplace officer, a cross-functional committee, and a network of over 85 Healthy Workplace Champions that act as department ambassadors
- Carleton University supports employees through various stages of life, from maternity leave top-up payments for mothers-to-be, to flexible work options to help balance personal and family commitments, to phased-in work options for those in the later stages of their career
- Carleton University encourages faculty and staff to pitch ideas on how to improve campus life in a Dragon's Den-style setting and also created the Ideas@Carleton platform to manage ongoing suggestions
Compassion and caring guide Carleton amid COVID-19
Casting his mind back to the adrenaline rush of early March, Carleton University president Benoit-Antoine Bacon recalls how everything unfolded so quickly. Within a week, the decision was made to send everyone home for health and safety reasons and finish the term online.
“Right away, the language we started using was around flexibility and compassion, by which we meant nothing is as it used to be,” says Bacon.
“When a pandemic strikes, putting people under stress, you’re literally at a fork in the road. Either we forget all we’ve said about mental health and wellness, and demand more of our people under these difficult circumstances, or we recommit to living up to our ideals of providing a workplace that is caring and adaptable and that recognizes the complexity of everyone’s lives.”
For students, that meant compassionate grading options, emergency funding and migrating all support services online. For faculty and staff, it included funds for supplies and resources to finish the winter semester.
Next, the university swiftly adapted its policies in an intentional and structured way so people with individual challenges could be accommodated to continue working safely. Bacon supported Carleton’s community of 35,000 people with daily messages, setting the tone for flexibility and compassion.
“Suddenly, everybody was in their home offices trying to reconcile health dangers, home life and the need to continue their duties alongside anxiety about the future,” says Bacon. “On day one, I wrote a long message to share information and decisions in my voice and in real time. I released a new message every morning for the first month and continue to write today, although I’ve slowed down the rhythm.”
Adrian Chan, a professor in the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering, found the president’s messages helpful in multiple ways. First, they helped reduce uncertainty and recognized people were struggling. As a father of four children under 13 with a partner working full time from home, he appreciated that reassurance, as well as the flexibility for work.
“The announcement early on that we were moving online for fall allowed me to prepare to teach much sooner,” says Chan. “Knowing there are lots of resources and peer-to-peer support provides stability. If you run into problems, people are there to help you.
“I also have a responsibility to provide leadership to my students and committees, which is challenging during a pandemic. The leadership by example helped me figure out how to do that.”