Better Workplace: A summary of key findings from open forums

Better Workplace co-chairs Sharon Hooper, assistant vice-president human resources, and Rhonda Lenton, vice-provost academic, issued this summary of feedback from the community information sessions held May 4 and 6.

Successfully creating a better workplace will take the collective efforts and full support of all of us at York. So we were delighted by the number of faculty and staff who came out to participate in the community information sessions held on May 4 and 6.

We received valuable feedback on the work done to date, as well as many useful recommendations as to what you feel the University needs to do in order to successfully create a better workplace. Thank you so much for taking time out from your busy work schedules.

York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri opened the sessions by passionately reinforcing his strong commitment and support to help create a work environment at York with less bureaucracy and more empowerment to help make York a place where everyone is fully engaged, recognized for their contributions and has the opportunity to grow and enjoy challenging and rewarding work. Following his remarks, we provided an update on the progress made thus far. This background information provided a framework for the community information sessions that followed.

Employee feedback

Small working groups then met to discuss and recommend the specific actions they feel that York must implement across the University, as well as improvements they would like to see in their own workplaces. All the groups responded enthusiastically, providing candid constructive criticism and useful pragmatic solutions. Some of the key recommendations include:

  • Need to communicate directly and more frequently. Engage with staff as York employees, regardless of their union affiliation or employee group. Provide regular opportunities for face-to-face dialogue and feedback.
  • Need to communicate and promote York’s vision, mission and values. Employees want to know where York is going and what the University stands for.
  • Need to increase and improve opportunities for professional development and training for employees at all levels.
  • Need to establish flexible work conditions with clear roles and responsibilities.
  • Need to ensure adequate resources and compensation to get the job done efficiently and effectively.
  • Need to increase staff recognition programs to acknowledge and celebrate good work.

Next Steps

The Better Workplace Management Committee is reviewing all the information from the feedback sessions, as well as recommendations from previous consultations, and there are further community information sessions planned. Significant consensus is nevertheless emerging on what needs to be done to improve the work environment at York, particularly in relation to the following themes:

  • Culture Change – To identify and then ensure the necessary tools and resources are in place to effectively create a better workplace; including a review of best practices; changing and strengthening York’s workplace culture by enhancing leadership and improving the structures, policies and procedures that support change and a better workplace.
  • Reward & Recognition – To explore different types of recognition models and develop a strategy and plan to augment existing University reward programs.
  • Leadership & Effective Management – To empower employees at all levels to be leaders, taking the initiative to lead by example and by providing opportunities for structured and flexible professional development programs, providing excellence in everything we do.
  • Information Sharing – To recommend improvements to information sharing as a vehicle to a better, more engaged workplace.

As we move forward, with creating a better workplace, we want to keep you fully informed of our progress. We are currently working with UIT to create a Better Workplace portal, so that all relevant and current information regarding creating a better workplace can be posted, as well as providing an opportunity for you to ask questions and provide feedback online.

We will also continue to hold open consultation sessions and/or Town Hall meetings to ensure you have regular opportunities to provide your input. Going forward, we would like to invite anyone interested to join one of the four working groups whom are now starting to develop the specific initiatives and action plans to support the themes outlined above.

So, if you have a keen interest and want to be directly involved in helping to shape the Creating A Better Workplace Strategy, contact Maria Milanetti to express your interest in participating. Deadline for expressions of interest is June 22.

A video of the community information sessions is now available online. To view the video, click here.