Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 6, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why Universities Canada / Universités Canada was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2023):
- Universities Canada maintains generous time-off policies with four weeks of starting vacation allowance moving to five weeks after only five years on-the-job -- additionally, employees are granted up to 35 hours of special leave each year which can be used for rest, family commitments or other matters related to well-being (employees are not required to provide justification for leave)
- Universities Canada introduced a formal hybrid work program that includes generous home office allowances for proper home office set-up, along with flexible work stations that employees can book online for their onsite days
- Universities Canada offers excellent maternity and parental leave top-up payments, up to 70 per cent of salary for a full year for new mothers and 35 weeks for new fathers and adoptive parents -- additionally, employees can take advantage of onsite child care when they are ready to return to work
Universities Canada helps employees keep learning
Maggie Rodrigues starts Monday mornings with an 8:30 class titled Parliament and Parties. The course on Canadian public policy is core to the master’s degree she’s studying for at Carleton University while continuing to work as a government relations officer at Universities Canada in Ottawa. Not only is her employer flexible about the times needed to attend classes, but generously picks up 75 per cent of the tuition.
“I work on policy and government relations and hope to be able to move up within my team,” says Rodrigues. “All my managers here have had master’s degrees and so I knew that was something I needed to do. Overall, it’s a culture that values learning and growth, which very much aligns with my own values.”
Universities Canada, a membership organization providing university presidents with a unified voice for higher education, research and innovation, is equally passionate about learning and career development for their employees. Although there had always been a training program, late in 2021 the organization created the new position of learning and development specialist to be more proactive. Sandra Boisvert held that position for the first year and worked hard to ensure its success.
“We formalized a training cycle that’s closely linked with our performance development cycle,” says Boisvert, now climate initiative manager. “Employees can indicate what kind of training they think would be beneficial and managers can also recommend training to help their employee either in their current role or to grow into their next one. After meeting with each manager about their group’s needs and looking at the organization’s priorities, we identify and schedule training for the year.”
Training can be in-house, online or external – for individuals, groups or teams.
For example, all leaders took part in training and received a workplace mental health leadership certificate from Queens University. Employees might also enroll in a university program to develop their career or attend a conference with all expenses paid.
“Last year, all of our staff took training on how to work in high-performing hybrid teams, because we moved to a hybrid model of working,” says Boisvert. “It was a course offered through Queen’s University on best practices that was helpful from both a technology standpoint and a cultural one – such as how to recreate your company’s culture because it needs to look different, and how to really make sure that everyone feels included, no matter where they’re working from that day.”
After two years of working online because of the pandemic, Boisvert felt that taking some training together helped people feel supported right when they were coming back into the office.
“We had a lot of new staff who had joined during that time as well, so it just brought us together and got us ready for the next step,” says Boisvert. “Whenever we do staff meetings, we highlight what’s coming up in terms of training. We’ve booked more training in the past year than ever.
“The success of the organization depends on the success of its employees and their ability to do their jobs, but also to grow in their roles.”
The renewed emphasis on learning also re-energized a popular internal French language program that had lapsed.
“We’re a bilingual organization, so we help employees become more comfortable working and speaking in French,” says Rodrigues, who is part of an employee-led “FrancoFUN” group which pairs francophone employees with anglophones. “My group likes to talk about reality TV in French over lunch because we share that interest. There’s a lot of laughter.”