Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2018)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 30, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Algonquin College of Applied Arts & Technology was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2018):
- 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 -- the College also offers the option to extend their parental leave into an unpaid leave of absence and the convenience of onsite daycare upon their return
- Algonquin College created a leadership development program for women in order to empower and better prepare female employees for future leadership opportunities and enhance awareness regarding the importance of women in leadership and gender equality
- An environmentally conscious employer, Algonquin College maintains a dedicated steering committee to help embed sustainability within the organization's culture as well as an informal sustainability team which collaborates regularly with student-led sustainability clubs on a variety of activities
Employees have a voice at Algonquin College
After three decades working as a chef in restaurants, resorts and hotels across Canada, Russell Weir decided it was time to come home. Now executive chef at Algonquin College, Weir says his alma mater's employee engagement level and standards are even higher now than when he graduated from its culinary management program in 1980. "The energy among students and staff is truly inspiring," he says.
Weir creates menus for six food outlets at Algonquin's 22-building main campus in Ottawa's west end. His team serves 10,000 people daily, everything from muffins to full-course dinners. "I get every opportunity to innovate," he says.
But that innovation is tied to the needs of his clients, both students and faculty. As part of Algonquin's culture of broad consultation, Weir reaches out regularly to the community he serves for feedback and ideas. One recent change as a result: all soups are now gluten free.
On a macro level, all Algonquin employees had an opportunity to provide input into the college's new five-year strategic plan. Explains Cathy Frederick, Algonquin's Vice President, Human Resources: "Everyone was consulted. For organizational success, all voices need to be heard and their ideas listened to carefully."
Frederick joined Algonquin three years ago after a successful career in other sectors because: "The executive team here realizes the importance of employee engagement to success. I saw that from afar and wanted to be part of it."
For his part, Weir says he appreciates the college asking him to be involved with issues outside his bailiwick. "There is a genuine feeling that everyone be included," he says. "People are listened to; their opinions matter."
Weir adds that Algonquin also takes seriously its employees' professional development. He has availed himself of numerous learning opportunities, courtesy of the college, and notes that staff can take any college course for just $20. "Professional development is not just encouraged -- it's almost demanded," Weir says. "It helps keep people intellectually stimulated and builds a stronger organization for the future."
Part of building that future is a commitment to continuous improvement. "Nobody, from the president on down, is satisfied with the status quo," says Weir. "We are always pushing the envelope."
These days, Weir works alongside the former executive chef who trained him back in the day. He retired a few years ago, but after a few months asked to return part-time to the kitchen. Says Weir: "How much of a better workplace-endorsement can you ask for?"