Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 25, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why NAIT / Northern Alberta Institute of Technology was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2021):
- NAIT offered a stipend of $50 per month for employees working from home and provided computer and office equipment from campus as part of its response to the pandemic -- additionally, the organization surveyed employees to determine if additional equipment would help as remote work continues through the fall and winter semesters
- NAIT 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 retirement work options for those in the later stages of their career
- NAIT honours exceptional employee performance through the SHINE recognition program, with awards for customer service, health and safety, sustainability, technology and innovation, and extra effort (for employees or teams who go beyond their regular duties)
NAIT’s own technology supports the community
For three decades, staff and students in the culinary program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) worked with Boyle Street Community Services to provide an annual Thanksgiving dinner for Edmonton’s homeless and poor. In 2020, though, it looked like this proud tradition might be doomed due to limitations on campus activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forty culinary staff and students, working in shifts over three days at NAIT’s teaching kitchens, made sure that didn’t happen. Following all necessary health and safety protocols, they prepared more than 400 takeout meals in place of the usual buffet service. It was the first hot meal the Boyle Street agency had been able to provide since March.
That kind of innovation and team spirit is typical of the way NAIT has responded to the pandemic.
“What’s really struck me is how we’ve come together,” says Clayton Davis, executive director, human resources. “We have a large staff at NAIT, yet it suddenly feels like a small, tight-knit group working in unison.”
Since March, the vast majority of NAIT staff have worked remotely, finding innovative ways to use online technologies to serve more than 30,000 students and apprentices.
At the same time, NAIT’s leadership team moved quickly to support staff on a number of fronts. From March through August, all staff received 10 paid days of leave for COVID-19-related absences, while greater flexibility was exercised for how staff could use their various leave days. Managers worked closely with employees on flexible schedules that balanced work demands and home needs.
NAIT also implemented a new mental health and resiliency app, headversity, that is available for all staff and students.
“Our leaders have been great about supporting us,” says Chris Fukushima, a member of NAIT’s Organizational Development Services team. “It’s been really cool to see how this institution has come together to continue to serve students at a very high level.”
A COVID-19 Student Relief Fund was created thanks to over $100,000 in donations from staff, alumni, industry and friends of NAIT, along with $50,000 from the NAIT Students’ Association. The fund provides bursaries to students whose lives have been disrupted by the pandemic.
Staff also mobilized to arrange the loan of 24 ventilators used in NAIT’s respiratory therapy labs and research facilities to Alberta Health Services.
“This pandemic has required a mindset shift from everyone,” says Davis. “I’m just very proud of how we’ve met the moment.”