It is the second week of the new academic year. The campus is busy; new and returning faces wander around – some exploring the campus, others finding their way to classes. Suddenly, a long – very long – line from the Flag Pole to University Boulevard in Main Mall reveals that something unusual is happening.
No, it’s not a line at the UBC Bookstore!
On Wednesday, September 11, 5,000 UBC staff got together to celebrate the start of the new school year at the 17th Annual Welcome Back Staff BBQ.
Staff enjoyed their meal with live music and in the company of colleagues from across the Vancouver campus. This was the biggest BBQ in 17 years – both in number of attendees and community partner tables – and the smallest in terms of landfill waste. With the support of UBC’s Sustainability Coordinator Program, the volunteer zero waste team diverted 437 kilograms of waste from the landfill, ending up with only one small bag of trash.
UBC staff engaged in support of wellbeing
Thirty-three units and departments participated at the BBQ as exhibitors, providing opportunities for staff to engage, make connections and learn something new. One of the tables was hosted by the Health, Wellbeing & Benefits team in HR, who invited staff to answer the question: “What wellbeing and/or benefits tip would you share with a new employee?”
From having lunch with colleagues to taking advantage of on-campus perks, the over 90 responses inspired us to think about how we all contribute to building community and social connections. For this reason, we are keeping this conversation alive by sharing some of the tips below along with additional resources.
Inspired by the astonishing landscapes that surround UBC, many staff suggested taking time for yourself and exploring the campus. UBC Vancouver has plenty of options for those looking for peaceful places to take short and long breaks, meet and mingle, or just contemplate nature.
In addition to walking, on-campus workout opportunities were highly recommended. From events like the annual Pick Your Peak Stair Challenge to weekly classes, there are many ways UBC staff and faculty can get active and have fun.
- Get moving! UBC Recreation options for staff and faculty
- Staff & Faculty Sports Day
- Pick Your Peak Stair Challenge
- Walking programs at UBC
An important tip given was to observe what we eat and drink. UBC Food Services has multiple nutrition resources – including meal prep suggestions and where to find healthy food on campus.
- 12 tips for a healthy school year
- 7 places to grab healthy food on campus
- 4 more places to grab healthy food on campus
- 8 tips for healthy eats and a happy wallet
- We Dig Real Food stamp card program: this initiative was recently launched by UBC Food Services to promote dietitian-approved menu choices for students and staff. To learn more, visit one of the three UBC dining halls – Gather, Feast and Open Kitchen.
In addition, in an effort to promote drinking water and reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, UBC has launched a campaign that includes a map with water fountains and bottle-filling stations on campus.
Many respondents acknowledged the importance of wellbeing in the workplace. For instance, UBC has an ergonomics team dedicated to promote optimal working postures and practices to reduce workplace injuries. In addition to that, the university has many other benefits and resources available to faculty and staff – and your colleagues want you to know about them!
Wellbeing as an institutional goal
The Welcome Back Staff BBQ stimulates social connections amongst members of the UBC community. As the university’s Wellbeing Strategic Framework highlights, we believe that “everyone thrives when they feel respected, supported, and part of a community.” That is why our community encourages and creates opportunities for building meaningful connections.
The event is also aligned with the Focus on People 2025 framework through Catalyst #1, which supports actions that create a diverse, inclusive, safe and vibrant environment for those who work at the university.
As many of the staff’s tips suggested, the BBQ is just one of the many initiatives that UBC promotes to improve health and wellbeing in the workplace. It is not an isolated initiative, but part of an integrated effort that is helping to bring UBC’s strategic plan: Shaping UBC’s Next Century to life.