Laurier named one of Waterloo region’s top employers

Photo by Darien Funk

For a second year in a row, Wilfrid Laurier University has been named one of Waterloo’s top employers by Canada’s Top 100 Employers due to the quality of programs and policies put in place by and for employees.

Canada’s Top 100 Employers is a national competition that happens annually which recognizing both national and regional level leaders in employment, with Laurier’s honour being received at the regional level for their employment across all campuses including Waterloo, Brantford and Toronto.

“I’ve been at Laurier for almost 15 years working in human resources and I think what I hear a lot is very similar to what we hear about our student experience; it’s that real sense of community that we have here at Laurier, new employees that I meet with through their onboarding process talk about how friendly and welcoming people are, for the most part our employees feel like they really belong here,” said Pamela Cant, assistance vice-president of human resources and equity.

“We heard this through the employee engagement survey that we did last year as well that people really appreciate the additional perks and benefits that we offer as an employer and that was what helped us get the recognition; so tuition waiver for employees and their dependants, we invest in employee professional development, the fact we gave very comprehensive benefits plans and retirement savings plans, etcetera — it’s that whole package.”

Canada’s Top 100 releases information and statistics about the chosen employers, with some of Laurier’s notable stats being that they have over 1,600 full-time employees and almost 700 part-time employees, their health care benefits pay up to 100 per cent of the premiums.

Laurier’s longest serving employee has worked for Laurier for 47 years, employees receive three weeks of paid vacation after their first year on the job and there are many plans for hours including compressed work weeks, telecommuting and an earned days off program.

“Working at a university our employees have a unique opportunity to be really connected to a meaningful mission which is to educate and inspire lives of leadership and purpose with our students and I don’t think with every corporation you can get that experience or contribute to something that is that meaningful,” Cant said.

“That is something that is a little bit special, the fact that we’re connected with public funding there’s an accountability that we have as a public institution that wouldn’t exist in a corporate environment, we’re also very collaborative; I have a great network of colleagues in human resources for across the university sector in Ontario as well as Canada.”

Laurier was also selected as one of Canada’s top green employers due to their green certified buildings and projects such as the Sustainable Hawk Fund and the certificate in sustainability which offers faculty and employees lunch and learn workshops.

“We employ a lot of student on campus — the numbers change from time to time but over the course of an academic year we employ upwards of 4,000 students in addition to our regular, continuing employee complement which is about 2,000,” Cant said.

“We do offer a lot offer a lot of employment opportunities for our students whether that be in the areas of athletics, the bookstore, working alongside a faculty member doing research, being a teaching assistant; there’s a lot of different opportunities for students to work on campus which is great.”

Another aspect of Laurier’s top employer bid for the region is that they constantly strive for equity, diversity and inclusion, including the hiring of the first ever Indigenous curriculum specialist in 2017.

“There’s a few things we’re working on currently: the employee engagement survey was conducted at the end of 2018, with all of our employees including our contract teaching faculty, we sent the survey to around 2,000 employees and we had 1,100 actually complete it so we felt like we had a good representation,” Cant said.

“We were able to get really rich data on what’s working really well and what areas we need to spend more time on; there are areas that we are really dedicated to focusing on that came through in the engagement survey as needing attention, with a big one being equity, diversity and inclusion.”

Barrington Walker was hired as the school’s first ever senior advisor of equity, diversity and inclusion thanks to this feedback and his role is to develop a comprehensive strategy and was created thanks to federal funding, with the position starting as of Jan. 2020.

“We want to ensure that we are attracting and retaining a diverse population of employees, all of our people, systems and processes are bias free and that we’re removing barriers for underrepresented groups, so there’s a lot of commitment on behalf of the university and senior administration to further EDI initiatives,” Cant said.

The next step for the university, however, is to not only be recognized as a top employer in the region, but one of the top employers in the nation.

“We’re pleased being recognized for a second year in a row, but our goal is to be recognized as a top 100 employer in Canada, so we’re going to continue to put our best foot forward and put our application in again next year with hopes all our initiatives will be recognized,” Cant said.

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