Capilano University Named a B.C. Top Employer

A breakdown of why being a top employer is important to CapU 

Wen Zhai // Contributor 

The BC’s Top Employers national competition is in its fifteenth year with 95 winners for BC’s Top Employers for 2020, eight of which were colleges and universities. All applicants are evaluated using the same criteria. Employers are compared to other organizations in their field to determine which offers the best workplace programs. It is a selection of the best employers in terms of employee benefits and wellbeing, flexibility, opportunities for growing, lifelong learning, healthcare package, workplace culture, pensions and maternity and parental leave.

Capilano University (CapU) Human Resources Advisor Louise Allison explains how high living expenses have hampered the university’s ability to recruit employees, especially in high-level specialist roles. “This win highlighted all the wonderful things the school is doing for its employees while also showcasing its wonderful employees,” HR Manager of Development and Engagement Erin McFadden said. The holistic approach to employee wellbeing, holding campaigns throughout the year to improve social, mental and physical wellbeing and the benefits such as the extended health and dental benefits, and various development opportunities led CapU to be a winner. 

However, the first year that CapU applied they weren’t selected as a winner. From the application process, the university learned what they needed to improve. Allison took the results of their first application to CapU President Paul Dangerfield. Since then, Dangerfield has been working with the Senior Leadership Council to “embed wellbeing across curriculum and everything that we do, including signing the Okanagan Charter in 2018, an international charter for health promoting universities and colleges,” Allison said.  

According to McFadden and Allison, student employees who work 20 hours or more per week are also eligible to be covered by the benefits package. Once a student becomes a student employee, there are numerous opportunities to move into permanent positions after graduation. “We have many, many employees who were students, or came to work with us and then became students because we offer free credit courses to all employees. And that actually takes us back to the development piece. We are all about helping our employees to develop,” McFadden explained.  

After the second successful recognition, CapU will continue to improve in areas such as environmental issues, diversity, equity and inclusion, and will continue improving wellbeing. There is an on-campus Wellbeing Working Group coordinating an approach to bring diverse people into the decision-making process affecting the CapU community. “In the first stage we need a commitment, and now we are making the plan and then we are going to be executing the plan,” McFadden concluded. On Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), they started a LGBTQ2S+ group and an equity and diversity committee is underway. CapU is also a member of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), a non-profit organization that provides related resources and training to member employees.  

This year is CapU’s second time winning BC’s Top Employers, but they are still waiting to be listed among Canada’s Top 100, which is on Allison’s to-do list. It’s a competition across sectors, meaning CapU would be competing against banks and other big companies. “I think we are really excited about the direction we are going,” said McFadden. “the [CapU] President has been very supportive and is a strong believer that we have to take care of our employees so that we can take care of and support our students.”  

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