Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 21, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why BC Housing Management Commission was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2019):
- 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)
- Additionally, the organization helps cultivate a family-friendly culture through alternative working arrangements and recently launched an Agile Workplace Pilot project, which provides select individuals the freedom to create and manage their own work schedule in order to balance personal and professional commitments
- BC Housing maintains a points-based rewards program to recognize employee efforts to be active, live green, and contribute to the community -- points can be redeemed for gift cards, paid days off, or to make charitable donations
BC Housing employees want to make a difference
Glenn See did his homework before joining the Burnaby-based BC Housing Commission six and a half years ago. He liked what he found. "What attracted me was the work," says See, a business support manager. "It has a big impact on families and seniors across the province."
BC Housing supports over 112,000 families - and the number grows ever year - by providing a full range of housing that includes homeless shelters, rent support and affordable home ownership. In 2018, the provincial government promised to invest $7 billion in affordable housing over the next 10 years, and the commission will use those funds to increase the supply.
"The mandate of our organization is to improve people's lives through housing and community," says chief executive officer Shayne Ramsay. "When people are able to make a difference like that, it shows in the work they do."
Beyond that, the commission's people strategy is focused on promoting employee engagement and providing opportunity, and it starts from day one. Ramsay holds a two-hour onboarding session with each group of new employees, which includes questions and answers, and is followed by a tour of a few housing projects.
The commission also promotes professional development through a suite of learning programs. These include leadership development and working with Indigenous groups. The objective of the latter is to increase the level of understanding around issues such as truth and reconciliation.
The commission serves the entire province through regional offices in Victoria, Penticton, Prince George and Vancouver's Downtown East Side. Employees in those offices have the opportunity to travel to the Burnaby head office to take part in professional development programs.
Twice a year, the commission brings up to 150 employees from across the province to head office for a day of corporate updates, professional development and networking with their peers.
Ramsay says the commission is committed to work/life balance as part of its approach to creating a healthy workplace and a motivated workforce. Employees are allowed to put in extra time over a three-week period in order to earn a day off. The commission also allows flexible work hours to assist employees who have young children or long commutes, once these arrangements are approved by managers.
But the commission's mandate, more than anything, drives employees. "Our folks really believe in our mandate," says Ramsay. "They're committed to providing solutions for everything from homelessness to affordable home ownership."
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 14, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why BC Housing Management Commission was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
- BC Housing ensures that employees lead by example and partners with organizations such as the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation in order to offer "Master Recycler" training programs as well as in-house waste reduction workshops to train employees who, in return, establish initiatives and train residents at properties across the province -- employees also host regular Swap Meets to exchange unwanted household items
- Along with its ongoing program of greening its building footprint, BC Housing works to address the transportation impacts of its operations -- the organization offers 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
B.C. Housing promotes sustainability at work and at home
Environmental sustainability is more than a buzzword for employees of Burnaby-based B.C. Housing Management Commission. It is part of the fabric of their workplace culture and, indeed, their personal lives.
More than 10 years ago, B.C. Housing formed a livegreen Employee Council, a 20-member body comprised of representatives from all the organization's branches and regions, says Magdalena Szpala, Senior Advisor, Sustainability. The council meets monthly and its mandate is to support B.C. Housing's employees to make more sustainable decisions at work, home and in community. Council members serve two-year terms, which ensures that employees across the organization have an opportunity to participate.
"It really works well in terms of having a wide reach," says Szpala. "It gives employees a deeper understanding of our commitment to sustainability and a deeper level of engagement."
The council activities focus on advancing sustainability in four areas - work, home, food and travel, which includes commuting - and employees are encouraged to reduce their environmental footprints in each area. Szpala says that can mean taking public transit to work or turning lights off after leaving a meeting room. It can also mean purchasing energy-efficient appliances for the home as well as recycling personal waste or choosing a more plant-based diet.
Since 2010, the organization has had outside consultants conduct an annual employee survey to determine the effectiveness of its sustainability measures. "We've seen significant changes across the board," says Szpala. "Our consultant has concluded that these changes indicate cultural shift within the organization."
B.C. Housing provides a full range of housing that includes homeless shelters, rent support and affordable home ownership, and supports over 112,000 families in all regions of the province. Szpala says the commission works with tenants in its rental properties to adopt good environmental practices. Employees who work directly with tenants, such as community developers and building managers, provide advice on separating waste for recycling and how to reduce utility bills.
Last year, the provincial government promised to invest $7 billion in new affordable housing over the next 10 years, and much of that money will flow through the commission to increase supply. Bill MacKinnon, Senior Manager, Energy Sustainability, Development and Asset Strategies, says the commission ensures that design teams adhere to its green policies.
"We sit in on design team meetings and let them know what our standards and policies are," says MacKinnon. "We encourage them to include as many sustainable measures in their project as budgets will allow."
The commission insists on a well-insulated building envelope. It also stipulates that buildings be tightly sealed to prevent heat loss.
Another objective is waste reduction on construction sites. "We set targets for the percentage of waste we divert from landfills in each region," MacKinnon says. "We work with contractors to document how they've avoided sending waste to landfills."
The commission applies the same rigorous approach when renovating existing properties. Old windows are replaced with new high-efficiency ones that exceed the local building codes. The same applies when replacing toilets and shower faucets. The commission has also been upgrading the insulation and windows in many of its older structures.
"We create customized energy models that identify conservation measures for each project," says MacKinnon, and it's clear that the commission's efforts have been effective. "As an organization, we've achieved a 28 per cent reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions from our 2005 baseline."