On November 4, McGill University earned a Silver certification in the Healthy Workplace category as part of the 37th Canada Awards for Excellence. Excellence Canada hands out the annual awards to Canadian organizations in recognition of their commitment to continual improvement and pursuit of excellence.
McGill’s My Healthy Workplace (MHW) initiative was a key strength according to Excellence Canada. MHW is an initiative to engage employees by providing opportunities for dialogue with the McGill leadership about helping make McGill a better workplace. MHW encourages a sense of community among all University employees by ensuring an inclusive membership, and by promoting and facilitating staff participation in a range of interactive recognition, learning, and developmental events that aim to create a workplace that embraces and encourages:
- Continuous learning
- Sharing of knowledge
- Innovation, creativity and taking stock from what didn’t work
- Accountability for meaningful results in support of our community
The Silver certification reflects McGill’s evolution from reacting to workplace issues
to focusing on a more preventative approach by empowering staff in an open and inclusive environment. Not surprisingly, moving from a longstanding traditional, hierarchical workplace to a more agile learning one takes time.
Principal Suzanne Fortier set forth five priorities when she started her first term in 2013. The My Healthy Workplace initiative is a direct response to Principal Fortier’s call to create “a workplace culture where staff are empowered to use their knowledge and expertise to make McGill a more agile and effective organization.” What started as a small working group has grown and evolved over the past eight years. In 2017, Yves Beauchamp, Vice-Principal (Administration & Finance), formally integrated the initiative into Human Resource’s Organizational Development team, adding resources and building in accountabilities. MHW is now a network of close to 200 volunteers from units and faculties across McGill. Prof. Beauchamp serves as the MHW’s executive sponsor, and Diana Dutton, Associate VP (Human Resources), is the initiative’s sponsor.
Over the years, the Organizational Development team has used surveys and feedback gathered through workshops and focus groups to grow MHW to meet community needs. One such example is the creation of five learning communities (Engagement, Wellness, Service-Oriented, Quality, Sustainability) that have led to valuable change initiatives, including the introduction of LinkedIn Learning, a coordinated training and support strategy to address Mental Health (Leadership Certification, Mental Health First Aid for interveners, and the Working Mind for all staff) and laying the groundwork for an eventual Office for Continuous Learning and Improvement.
“We are honored to receive this prestigious certification from Excellence Canada, as it recognizes our commitment to healthy workplaces at McGill,” says VP Beauchamp. “Achieving silver is not a small feat, so I would like to thank and acknowledge all McGill staff who have been key in supporting this initiative. Our progress is indeed impressive, and I’m excited to see what is next.”
Excellence Canada’s mission is to help organizations in all sectors become the best-in-class by implementing standards of excellence. Excellence Canada is a not-for-profit organization that certifies and recognizes organizations that embody these attributes: they are customer focused, competitive, financially and environmentally sustainable, are good corporate citizens, actively pursue strategies to improve the mental and physical health and wellbeing of their employees and they create a healthy workplace culture that attracts and retains the best people.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors of Excellence Canada, I am very pleased to present the Canada Awards for Excellence to this year’s award recipients,” says Shirlee Sharkey, Chair of Excellence Canada. “I would like to extend congratulations to all of the leading private, public and not-for-profit organizations that have met the rigorous standards and requirements through the Canada Awards for Excellence program. You are all truly role models of excellence.”