Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 3, 2020)
Here are some of the reasons why Vaughan, The Corporation of the City of was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2021):
- City of Vaughan helps parents-to-be with generous IVF subsidies (to $12,000) and offers new moms maternity and parental leave top-ups (to 75 per cent of salary for 25 weeks) -- and parental leave top-ups for dads and adoptive parents (to 75 per cent for 10 weeks)
- Depending on employee group, the City of Vaughan supports long-term savings for all employees through a defined benefit pension plan or generous matching RSP contributions
- Varying by position, City of Vaughan employees can take advantage of a number of flexible work arrangements, including flexible hours, 35-hour and compressed work weeks, and working from home
Resilience carries Vaughan through the global COVID-19 pandemic
In a normal year, the City of Vaughan puts as many as 18,000 kids through its summer camps, but in the year of COVID-19 only about 1,800 youngsters enrolled for on-site activities in response to provincial regulations.
“For parents who weren’t prepared to have their children participate, we offered as many programs as we could, like arts and crafts, fitness classes, dance classes, Vaughan Playschool activities, City Playhouse Academy courses and more, live through Zoom,” says Sunny Bains, director of recreation services. “It’s a whole new world for all of us.”
Ready. Resilient. Resourceful. Those are the values that have guided the City’s response to the global pandemic, and they speak to how all staff have pivoted to continue delivering service excellence to residents, businesses and one another. Launching online recreation programs is just one example. And it reflects why the City is such a great place to work. In addition to a focus on employee engagement, diversity & inclusion, and learning & development, there’s a culture of innovation and resilience there that makes it an employer of choice.
“Since the declared state of emergency, each department has adapted and evolved,” says Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua. “They have collectively developed more than 160 innovations and process improvements to ensure our high-quality programs and services continue uninterrupted.”
They managed that considerable feat even though half the staff have been working from home since March. “I have been very impressed with the resilience of our organization,” says Christine Gianino, acting chief human resources officer. “Most of our citizens wouldn’t have seen a blip from the perspective of our ability to deliver services.”
That’s thanks to some forward-looking alternative work arrangements the City had begun to roll out before the pandemic struck, including flex-time, compressed hours, a staggered work week and tele-commuting.
“COVID-19 has caused the world’s biggest work-from-home experiment, but we were well prepared,” says Gianino. “We support a flexible work culture because we know people are looking for flexibility in their work environment.”
When the pandemic hit, the City eased the transition from office to home with an equipment loan program. Staff were allowed to borrow chairs, keyboards, headsets and other accessories required to set up home offices. As well, the City provided online resources so employees could conduct virtual meetings effectively and check in with colleagues, among other things.
Gianino’s department also put together a wellness toolkit that focused on mental health and sent it to all employees. It included links to resources for staff and their families dealing with stress or anxiety caused by the pandemic.
“It has certainly impacted everybody in significant ways,” she says. “We want to ensure that our staff stays well, healthy and effective.”
Vaughan takes a progressive approach to learning & development for staffers. The City offers close to 100 courses in various formats and for employees at all levels. Some are online offerings, others are delivered in classroom settings by certified in-house facilitators. Senior leaders can participate in a diploma program in public administration offered through Western University in London, Ont.
“We have really robust training programs,” says Bains. “There are lots of opportunities for personal and professional growth.”
City manager Jim Harnum concurs. “We provide our employees with a dynamic work environment where they can build their careers, be a part of a supportive team and contribute to exciting projects that are transforming one of North America’s fastest-growing cities,” he says.