Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2018):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 22, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why BC Housing Management Commission was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2018):
- BC Housing helps employees plan ahead with retirement planning assistance and generous contributions to a defined benefit pension plan -- and employees nearing retirement can ease into their life after work with phased-in retirement work options
- BC Housing employees are encouraged to stay fit with free access to an onsite fitness facility that features rowing machines, weights, stationary bikes and instructor-led classes such as yoga, pilates and boot camp
- BC Housing offers exceptional maternity and parental leave top-up payments for its new moms (to 85% of salary for the first 17 weeks, followed by 75% of salary for an additional 35 weeks) as well as parental top-up for new dads and adoptive parents (to 75% of salary for 35 weeks)
A service-oriented culture keeps BC Housing nimble
The glass sculpture Heidi Hartman keeps in her Victoria office has more than ornamental value to her. She received it from BC Housing in 2015 as a Service Excellence Award. "It was wonderful to be recognized," she says. "It's easy to do more when you love what you do."
BC Housing is a provincial government agency, responsible for the management, development and administration of affordable housing in B.C. Hartman is Regional Director, Operations, Vancouver Island Region. She is responsible for the direct management of 657 units and partnerships with non-profits that manage 10,606 units.
Hartman joined BC Housing in 2008, and soon discovered how "very nimble" the Crown agency is. "Everyone here is service-oriented," she says. "We're always looking for ways to do our work better or more efficiently."
BC Housing's employees display both professionalism and compassion. "We see it in the way our employees make a difference through their daily work," says Shayne Ramsay, CEO. "And we see it in how they donate their own money and vacation time to causes they care about." In 2017 alone, employees contributed a record-breaking $150,000, all within the three-week span of the agency's annual fundraising campaign.
Ramsay adds: "Really getting to know the folks who work here and understanding the culture has enabled us to structure programs to meet their specific needs. This is the core of our People Strategy, a set of initiatives that support our people in key areas like learning and development, recognition, retention and advancement."
Every employee receives training in core competencies of communication, personal effectiveness, results, teamwork and service. The agency also offers job-specific training and an award-winning leadership program. Hartman benefited from taking the program, finding it "a comfortable environment to try out new leadership skills." Subsidies are also available for courses and professional designations pursued by employees.
"We have worked to create a culture of coaching here," says Agnes Ross, Vice President, Human Resources. "We understand people are happiest and do their best work when they are growing personally and professionally."
Programming around diversity and inclusion is also part of BC Housing's People Strategy. "Our diversity helps us serve our communities at a higher level," says Ross. She notes that the agency provides respectful workplace workshops for all staff and offers training on aspects of inclusion such as Understanding LGBTQ Communities and Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples.
"Respecting the unique characteristics and life experiences of all employees makes our interactions richer and more meaningful," she says.
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2018):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 18, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why BC Housing Management Commission was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2018):
- BC Housing is committed to ensuring that all new housing projects are constructed to LEED Gold certification standards and, in partnership with its non-profit housing partners, has registered over 55 buildings with the Canadian Green Building Council -- additionally, the agency has reduced its energy consumption by 25% and greenhouse gas emissions by over 30% as part of its multi-year social housing renovation program
- Along with its ongoing program of greening its building footprint, BC Housing also works to address transportation impacts of its operations, including a bicycle purchase program managed in partnership with local bike stores, a Smart-Car sign-out system to provide transportation for business purposes (for those who don't drive to work), a formal telecommuting program to help reduce trips to work, and transit subsidies that include a free transit pass when employees give up their parking spot
BC Housing enlists employees to help lower emissions
Sustainability is a key part of the business strategy at BC Housing. "As a major developer and operator of social housing in British Columbia," says CEO Shayne Ramsay, "we recognize that our actions have an impact on both social and environmental sustainability."
For more than a decade, Ramsay says, "we've been promoting and practising green building technologies, energy conservation, waste reduction and diversion, the use of green products, sustainable travel modes and sustainable food choices."
BC Housing's sustainability plan, livegreen, has performance targets to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the organization's environmental footprint.
The livegreen plan's biggest success has been the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the social housing stock that the province owns and leases, says Magdalena Szpala, who for the past three years has been Senior Strategic Advisor - Sustainability.
"Last year," says Szpala, "our GHG emissions from energy use for heat, water and electricity in our buildings were 31 per cent lower than in 2005. The deep reductions in emissions are due to significant energy retrofits on older buildings, and improved energy efficiency standards for new buildings."
Major retrofits were made at two large housing sites in the Lower Mainland. Boiler replacements were completed at both sites, resulting in estimated annual savings of 444 tonnes of GHGs - the equivalent of taking some 94 cars off the road per year.
Furnaces were replaced at several BC Housing-funded group homes and non-profit housing developments through the Energy Conservation Assistance Program, in collaboration with BC Hydro and FortisBC.
BC Housing continues supporting energy savings at social housing developments through the Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program with the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, BC Hydro, and FortisBC. In 2016, 27 energy-saving retrofit projects were completed at social housing developments through the program.
The most significant update to the livegreen plan is the adoption of the new Green Buildings measure, aligning BC Housing's performance objectives for new social housing with the province's long-term goals for making all new buildings net-zero energy ready.
BC Housing also lowers GHG emissions through reducing paper use - a 57 per cent cut in GHGs in 2016 vs. the 2005 baseline - driving its vehicles more efficiently, and incorporating sustainability criteria in its procurement tendering.
Supporting employees to take action on sustainability in the workplace, at home and in the community is also a key strategy. "Our livegreen Employee Council has been incredibly successful in engaging employees on sustainability issues and actions," says Ramsay. The 30-member council meets monthly and organizes campaigns and educational activities in four areas: home, food, workplace and commuting/travel.
These include Meatless Mondays in March, when employees host pot-lucks and learn about the benefits of plant-based diets. "Since meat production contributes significantly to global GHG emissions," says Szpala, "this is one way an individual really can make a difference."
Other activities include the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, where employees head to local beaches to collect trash; the Cut-the-Carbon Challenge, in which teams pledge specific actions to reduce their footprint; green product testing, and a green cleaning products bulk purchase program. The organization also has a transit subsidy and a bike purchase program to encourage more sustainable commuting.
In last year's annual employee engagement survey, 83 per cent of staff indicated they felt supported by BC Housing to make good sustainability choices at work and at home. "Our livegreen Employee Council sets a clear plan each year," says Ramsay. "They constantly impress us with their dedication and the real impact they have on sustainability in our organization."