Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 4, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Algonquin College of Applied Arts & Technology was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2016):
- Algonquin College provides exceptional family-friendly benefits, including a full year of paid leave for mothers and parental leave top-up ranging between 35 to 37 weeks for fathers and adoptive parents -- also offers an option to extend their parental leave into an unpaid leave of absence and the convenience of an onsite daycare facility upon their return
- Employees working at Algonquin College's Ottawa campus can stay in shape by taking advantage of the onsite fitness facility, complete with state-of-the-art exercise equipment, basketball court, sauna, soccer dome and instructor-led classes such as yoga and aerobics
- An environmentally conscious employer, Algonquin College established a dedicated steering committee to help embed sustainability within the school's culture and is currently developing a Green Office to further engage employees
Algonquin fosters lifelong learning and growth
Cat Baron believed in the Community and Justice Services program she took at Algonquin College so much that she felt "honoured" when she was asked to teach there.
After earning her diploma in 1998 from Ottawa's Woodroffe campus, Baron was working in sexual health education and promotion with street youth when Algonquin approached her to teach a sexual awareness course part-time in 2002. "Studying at Algonquin set me up for career success, then to be asked to teach was really rewarding. It feels good to give back to the program that gave me so much."
Baron became a full-time professor in 2005 and program coordinator in 2015. Over the years, she has attended myriad professional development initiatives, such as Algonquin's annual Kaleidoscope and mental health conferences at Ottawa's The Royal hospital.
"Algonquin invests in its people," says Baron. "There are great opportunities to develop both as a person and a professional."
The College also created recognition programs to reward the ingenuity and contributions of its 1,321 full-time and 2,078 part-time employees. The Star Awards are presented by President Cheryl Jensen throughout the year to those who demonstrate a commitment to excellence, student success, and Algonquin's values of caring, learning, integrity and respect.
"When we're recruiting, we look for an innovative mindset, problem-solving and entrepreneurial skills, and the ability to partner with colleagues and the community to build on ideas," says Cathy Frederick, Vice President of Human Resources. Frederick joined Algonquin last August, attracted by the forward-thinking leadership of the newly minted President Jensen and the technological transformation the College was embracing.
Algonquin offers several employee wellness programs that aim to maintain well-being and foster a positive workplace. Each month, Human Resources coordinates Paws4Stress dog-therapy visits in partnership with St. John's Ambulance. In December more than 300 students and employees benefited from the visits.
"We spend about two hours taking a therapy dog to visit offices and students," says Frederick. "We've had such positive feedback from students and employees and been told that even just a short visit turned their day around."
Zen4Ten, a yoga series of eight videos that can be done in 10 minutes at workstations, launched last September, with the College President hosting the first one. And last June, Human Resources partnered with employees and students in the Horticulture Industries program to create Algonquin's first community garden. Employees can also access a variety of on-campus services that provide students with an opportunity to practice the skills they are learning in a real work environment, from buying affordable fare made by culinary and baking students in Savoir Faire's gourmet-food store in the Student Commons Building to low fees for massage, physiotherapy, dental and spa treatments.
Baron has bought food from Savoir Faire, dined at the School of Hospitality and Tourism's Restaurant International and booked massages. "I like that I'm helping students perfect their skill sets," she says.
For Baron, scheduling flexibility also contributes to workplace satisfaction. "I love that I've been given a job to do and I'm trusted and left alone to do it," she says. "When I'm not in the classroom, I can work in my office, from home or in a coffee shop, as long as I get the work done."
As new buildings go up on campus, they're meeting top environmental standards. For example, the 190,000-square-foot Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence, opened in 2011, is LEED Platinum accredited and brings the next generation of carpenters, plumbers, civil engineering technologists, interior designers and many other trades and professions under a single green roof.
Expansion and growth - of its buildings, programs and people - are top priorities as Algonquin prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2017. Baron is looking forward to what lies ahead. "Lifelong learning is part of the culture here," she says. "The opportunities and encouragement are there for employees to continue learning and growing."