Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 15, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Kwantlen Polytechnic University was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2021):
- KPU supports employees who are new mothers with generous maternity and parental leave top-up, to 75 per cent of salary for a full year, and offers parental top-up for fathers and adoptive parents, to 75 per cent of salary for up to 37 weeks
- KPU organizes a variety of internal initiatives to help employees make healthy choices, including an option to sign up for a weekly vegetable box with produce grown by the school's horticulture program and an annual Pieces of Mind conference featuring student speakers, community organizations, exhibits and keynote speakers on the topic of mental health
- KPU helps employees plan securely for the future with a defined benefit pension plan and retirement planning assistance -- employees may also take advantage of phased-in work options as they near retirement
KPU uses its innovation skills amid the pandemic
When the coronavirus struck, Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) found a myriad of ways to help the community.
One was the collection of personal protective equipment (PPE) including N95 masks, gloves, lab coats and hand sanitizer from its several Lower Mainland campuses, the main one of which is in Surrey. Those supplies were distributed to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), St. Paul’s Hospital and the PPE distribution agency Operation Protect.
Another example: KPU’s Wilson School of Design 3D-printed 1,000 surgical mask straps, to ease the discomfort of wearing masks for a long time, for VGH.
But KPU, which offers hands-on skills in addition to traditional academics, also turned its attention to staff. “We already had employee-engagement work groups,” says Laurie Clancy, associate vice-president of human resources, “and we had them shift gears and start working on initiatives related to people working remotely, to keep them connected and engaged.”
That yielded virtual workouts, yoga, meditation, a cooking club, TED Talks and Jeopardy! sessions. KPU also amped up activities around mental health, putting on additional webinars and training sessions, while reminding staff about various mental health-related resources available to them through the university.
Lesley McCannell, an instructor in KPU’s School of Business and co-chair of the department, says that a push for virtual communication among colleagues has been not only very helpful, but revelatory.
“Pivoting to online learning has meant a phenomenal amount of work for faculty,” she says. “People have pulled together in a way I’ve never seen before. Some have created teaching teams to share the work. And some say shifting to online has in some ways been the best experience they’ve had, because of the connection to other faculty.”
“Being a faculty member can be a little bit lonely. I think we’ve all learned something from the sharing and the support.”
McCannell says one of the things that has kept her at KPU for 19 years is the value it places on innovation and supporting staff when they want to study or pursue new things – such as, for her, inter-cultural learning and the goals of equity, diversity and inclusion in her department.
Regarding the latter, she says, “I think that what feeds my soul at KPU is that I know the work we do in our classrooms around those goals is amplified when our graduates go out and take the experience they had at KPU and replicate that in their workplace. And for me that’s really gratifying.”