Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2018)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 20, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why NAIT / Northern Alberta Institute of Technology was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2018):
- NAIT provides maternity leave top-up payments for employees who are new mothers (up to 95% of salary for up to 16 weeks) and offers a number of flexible work options when they are ready to return
- NAIT encourages employees to lead healthy, active lives, offering health and wellness spending accounts and monthly staff wellness sessions on a variety of topics including healthy eating, relationships and mindfulness
- NAIT participates in Pride Week to celebrate inclusivity as well as the diversity of its staff and student population -- and also maintains a Safe Spaces program to educate individuals across campus and help develop a network of allies
NAIT takes a day to celebrate employee well-being
For nearly a decade, Sheryl Hansen has helped organize twice-annual professional development days at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). Over the years, she noticed that employees "voted with their feet" by consistently making sessions on health and wellness the most attended ones. So, this past June, NAIT decided to hold its first-ever Well-being Day for staff. The response couldn't have been more positive.
"There was a palpable joy around the whole day," says Hansen, NAIT's Manager of Organizational Development Services. "With 976 staff participating and more than 40 staff members volunteering to lead activities and sessions, it was, by far, the best-attended, best-received event of its kind we've ever held."
With typical academic rigour, NAIT organized the day around what the literature reveals as eight dimensions of wellness -- emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual.
It began with a keynote address from motivational speaker Ben Nemtin, who asked the provocative question: what do you want to do before you die? The focus was not only on coming up with a personal "bucket list," but also helping others realize their life aspirations.
After that, participants broke off into smaller sessions on everything from archery tag (physical wellness) to building resilience (emotional) to poetry for science nerds (intellectual).
As Hansen put it in her opening remarks: "We are pausing to assess our own well-being and to participate in a moment of self-care and awareness."
Dr. Glenn Feltham, NAIT's President & CEO, says that the idea of a Well-being Day is rooted in the polytechnic's five core values -- respect, celebration, support, collaboration and accountability. It also reflects NAIT's "Promise to Staff," part of a mission statement that NAIT will "continue to be one of Canada's outstanding places to work."
Feltham, who led an environmental wellness session during which he planted a tree to celebrate the Centre for Applied Technology's LEED gold status, says it was "a tremendously exciting day that was fundamentally about how we can best support our employees in ways that allow them not only to excel, but to have a balanced and healthy life."
He, too, was impressed by the overwhelming positive response by participants. "Some loved it, some loved it more, and some just really, really loved it," quips Feltham. "As soon as it was over, people were asking when we'd do the next one."
The answer: planning has already begun on the second annual Well-being Day, set for June 2018.