Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 12, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Universities Canada / Universités Canada was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2017):
- In keeping with its line of business, Universities Canada manages a generous academic scholarship program for children of employees interested in pursuing post-secondary studies (to $6,000 per child) and offers opportunities for the next generation to gain on-the-job experience through paid internships, co-op placements and summer student positions
- Universities Canada offers excellent maternity and parental leave top-up payments, up to 70% of salary for a full year for new mothers and between 35 to 37 weeks for new fathers and adoptive parents -- additionally, employees can take advantage of onsite daycare when they are ready to return to work
- In response to employee interest, Universities Canada created the Ursula's Den event (based on the popular Dragon's Den television series) to provide opportunities for employees to collaborate on innovative ideas and pitch them to staff and judges
Universities Canada offers unusual opportunities
Typically, people don't apply for jobs with Universities Canada for a chance to see the world. Financial Systems Analyst Sahra Ali was no different when she joined the Ottawa-based association three years ago. But earlier this year she volunteered for a month in Senegal, helping women and youth improve their financial management skills.
"It had nothing to do with my job, but it was a great opportunity to grow personally," says Ali. "I am extremely grateful to Universities Canada for the experience. And when you are grateful, you want to do more for your employer."
Every year, one employee is selected to take part in the Leave for Change program, operated by another not-for-profit. The person uses his or her vacation entitlement for the developing-world assignment, but all expenses are paid.
For CEO Paul Davidson, Leave for Change is an example of how to keep employees engaged with stimulating outside activities. "One challenge of a small organization with talented people is to ensure they have chances to grow," Davidson says.
Adds Ali: "We get lots of such opportunities that are out of the ordinary. It creates a sense of belonging to the organization."
Another way to engage employees is to provide a family-friendly workplace, listen to their concerns and help them develop professionally. "The large majority of our staff has, or has had, young families," Davidson says. "Our policies reflect that reality with generous maternity/paternity leave and then flexibility when people return to work."
Indeed, Universities Canada provides up to a full-year's 70-per-cent salary top-up for maternity and parental leaves.
"We also act on our employee survey results," Davidson says. "Last year, for example, we boosted our professional development spending to further enhance their growth."
Meanwhile, when Ali wanted to become CPA certified, Universities Canada offered her flexible hours to attend classes and has picked up most of the tuition cost. "It shows they care about employees improving themselves," she says. "I feel appreciated because they supported me all the way."
Universities Canada, clearly, appeals to people who want to make a difference, whether as a volunteer abroad, or on the job. "By promoting the importance of Canadian universities, we get involved with issues like economic growth, reconciliation with Indigenous people and building a diverse and pluralistic society," Davidson says.
"It's not just a place to go to work -- every day you are helping to build a better Canada."