Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 13, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why Coquitlam, City of was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2023):
- City of Coquitlam recently piloted a mental wellness champion program to engage employees as trained resources for their peers, and encourages employees to put their health first with paid sick time (up to 18 days annually)
- City of Coquitlam supports ongoing employee development through tuition subsidies for courses at outside academic institutions
- City of Coquitlam helps employees plan for life after work through retirement planning assistance services, along with generous contributions to a defined benefit pension plan
At Coquitlam’s core are its core principles
Manisha Dutta started her career at the City of Coquitlam in the clerk’s office, wondering what doors her initial role might open. Now she’s the City’s manager of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and thrilled to have been able to achieve a leadership role in the community she loves.
“I have felt extremely supported throughout my career and it doesn’t stop after you reach a certain level – the growth is ongoing,” says Dutta.
“The City does a good job of fostering development and tapping into the leadership potential of our employees. We recruit talented people who can build their careers right here.”
The City of Coquitlam is one of the fastest-growing communities in the Greater Vancouver area. It’s B.C.’s seventh-largest city and its 955 full-time staff delivers services to residents that range from designing innovative park spaces and supporting programs that foster environmental sustainability to developing accessible recreation programs.
With a diversity of jobs and work sites, Coquitlam has built its corporate culture on core principles like EDI to ensure all employees are on the same page and feel supported. These values reflect the dynamic, diverse city the employees serve.
“People want more than just a job – they want to be part of something that helps them live their values. That’s what we do in Coquitlam,” says Renzo Del Negro, director of human resources.
“People take pride in the fact they’re part of this community and working to make it a better place.”
Coquitlam looks at all operations through an EDI lens, from the way it delivers services to supporting its employees. There are no one-size-fits-all policies – everything from health and wellness benefits to working arrangements take into consideration the needs of both the individual and the role.
A new hybrid work policy allows many employees to balance between working remotely and in the office, and there’s an increased emphasis on mental wellness. The recently launched ‘Mental Health Champions’ program trains team leaders and employees to recognize distress signs and offer help to their peers.
Coquitlam also looks for its leadership from within the existing pool of employees and managers. The city’s award-winning leadership career development program gives successful candidates 18 months of training. Other programs allow employees to upskill so they can apply for different positions or perform better in their current job.
While they focus on delivering better services to residents, employees are also encouraged to have fun while doing good. Halloween is a major event where Coquitlam partners with the United Way to hold events like chili cook-offs and costume competitions. They also take part in community outreach initiatives like the Cultural Summit, which brings together city residents, employees, keynote speakers and others in a showcase of EDI values.
An open and relaxed workplace culture helps employees and managers compare notes and find ways to advance a culture of continuous improvement. Leaders like Dutta are approachable.
“I’ve had a lot of really touching conversations on how impactful our approach is,” she says. “I’m honoured to do this job on a daily basis.”
The commitment to providing a safe and respectful work environment for employees comes from the top at the city council level and is supported by managers and employees. It’s a holistic approach that Del Negro says helps the City attract top talent and retain it.
“If you come to Coquitlam, regardless of what position you start in, you have the opportunity to continue to advance your career. Employees are encouraged to continuously grow their skills and knowledge which in turn will set them up to pursue promotional opportunities in different roles here at the City,” he says.