Focus on People Updates

Workplace Conversations: Keeping IT Connected!

Submitted by Winnie Wan, Marketing and Communications Specialist in UBC IT.

At UBC Information Technology, we have over 400 staff located in the Vancouver Point Grey and Okanagan campuses, as well as at UBC Robson Square. With such a broad and diverse group of staff, enhancing engagement and communication is one of the department’s current and continuous key focus areas.

Keeping IT Connected!

Keeping-IT-Connected!

The main communication channels that UBC IT uses to engage its staff are shareIT (its departmental intranet), emails, in-person meetings, and events. The shareIT intranet provides news updates of UBC IT teams and the UBC community. Staff can also post kudos about one another, buy and sell items in the Community section, and view photo galleries of past events. Quarterly departmental town halls and bi-weekly informal Q&A meetings with the UBC IT leadership team (which we call “IT Stand Up meetings”) provide opportunities for staff to interact with their colleagues and the IT leadership team, while snacking on delicious refreshments and baked goods. Staff also have the opportunity to anonymously submit questions for the leadership team to answer before the day of the event.

Another source of obtaining feedback and encouraging engagement from staff, are our departmental-wide employee survey and the UBC Workplace Experiences survey. These surveys provide us further information on what our staff needs and requirements are and whether we are providing enough engagement.

Bringing the unit/team together

We host a number of staff events and information sessions throughout the year. We also promote having a work-life balance and implementing healthy routines to our daily work lives. Here is a quick summary of some of our initiatives:

Bi-weekly IT Stand Up meetings

IT-Stand-Up-meetings

UBC IT teams take turn hosting the event in their work area to give staff from other teams in the department a chance to learn what they do and what sort of projects they are working on. Staff also get to mingle with one another and ask questions to the Senior Leadership Team in an informal setting.

Quarterly Town Hall meetings for the IT community

Quarterly-Town-Hall

Town Hall meetings provide departmental updates and University news to staff. Guest speakers have also been invited in the past to discuss key topics in the IT industry and also trends taking place in higher education.

Health and Safety Committee

Health-and-Safety-Committee

The UBC IT Health and Safety committee promotes a healthy and safety workplace. They have organized classes for hip hop dancing and yoga, as well as “Smoothie Day” for staff to spin and create their own smoothies using a blender bike (which is a blender attached to a bike).

Annual celebratory events

Annual-celebratory-events

To support the United Way Campaign, UBC IT hosts an annual bake sale, bringing together bakers and foodies in the department together. We also organize a Halloween costume contest and staff Christmas party each year

Individual IT Team events

Individual-IT-Team-events

With such a large number of staff in the department, individual teams often organize events for their own team or in combination with a few other teams. Teams have hosted barbecues and activities such as kayaking, and golfing.

Campus-wide events

Campus-wide-events

We regularly promote events that take place campus-wide, such as the UBC Welcome Back BBQ, Storm the Wall, and Staff and Faculty Sports Day, on our departmental intranet, shareIT.

Greater Vancouver community events and sports organizations

Greater-Vancouver-community

With all the exciting festivities and sport organizations taking place in greater Vancouver, staff members often organize teams for community events, such as the Vancouver Sun Run, and for recreational sports organizations such as the Vancouver Dodgeball League.

How we strive to improve the unit/team culture

In addition to encouraging feedback at our events, we hope that by providing these opportunities to meet and mingle, it will create more visibility and transparency for staff on what is taking place in the department and also break down any silos we have among teams. We also encourage staff to adopt the habit of speaking to their supervisors about what their needs and requirements are, and also attend personal development workshops on topics such as “Respectful Workplace.”

UBC IT also has many ties to the greater IT community at UBC as we are partners and collaborators on many IT services. We make an effort to invite our fellow IT colleagues to our staff events, such as our Christmas party and past staff barbeques, and share our learning and engagement initiatives with them, such as hosting technology focused events, like IT Talks.

We recognize that our staff have a diverse set of skills and interests. In the past, we have established special interest groups catering towards specific roles and responsibilities, creating a forum for staff to share knowledge and skills.

Our Vision

UBC IT is committed to creating a transparent and an open communication environment between management and staff. We hope this will encourage more staff involvement and feedback on any changes within the department and the University. This supports our vision of creating a culture of inclusiveness and collaboration for IT at the University, and supporting a stronger relationship for the greater good of the institution.


Have a story to share about what you’re doing to create an engaging workplace in your department and the impact for staff and faculty? Please send your submissions to communications@hr.ubc.ca.

Commitment to Continuous Learning at Development and Alumni Engagement

Submitted by Jacqui Noftall, Director, Human Resources at Development & Alumni Engagement

Development and Alumni Engagement (DAE) is widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading development and alumni programs. Our amazing DAE employees work on UBC’s Vancouver and Kelowna campuses, as well as in the Asia Pacific Regional Office in Hong Kong. They actively engage alumni, donors, corporations and foundations to support student programs, research, and a variety of University priorities.

To deliver on our portfolio goals, we are committed to continuous learning that builds on our competencies (known as our DAE Core ABS – abilities, behaviours, strengths) that include: University Agility; Professionalism; Collaboration; Communication; Innovation; Accountability; and Leadership. The various types of learning we do as a portfolio include:

  • All Portfolio Meetings (APM) where we connect on initiatives tied to DAE’s strategic goals and objectives and UBC’s Place & Promise, while celebrating our employees. At each of our three APMs per year, we acknowledge the service of our employees and recognize those who have gone above and beyond in demonstrating our portfolio values.
  • Skills & Information sessions held on Monday mornings which feature guest speakers from UBC faculties, schools, and units, as well as our own DAE employees who are willing to share their knowledge with fellow colleagues. It’s also an opportunity for employees to share updates and successes with their peers.
  • DAE Day, one of our three annual APMs, is an in-house one day learning conference born from employee feedback in the UBC Workplace Experience Survey (WES). The conference is coordinated and hosted by DAE employees!
  • For new employees, we ensure they feel supported, informed, and connected to the portfolio through our orientation and onboarding programs. We also utilize our DAE Mentorship Program and buddy programs to connect new employees with seasoned employees to gain insight, knowledge and an understanding of the University.
  • Employees are welcome to join the employee-led DAE Toastmasters group which helps build self-confidence and enhances public speaking and leadership skills in a supportive atmosphere.
  • Our weekly employee newsletter – the Portfolio – helps employees stay informed and connected. Networking and learning opportunities are also available to employees through alumni events!
  • Lastly, we are a team that likes to have fun and take advantage of all the great employee initiative on campus!
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DAE team welcomes Professor Santa Ono to our September 14th APM!

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Marguerite Collins Olding accepting a DAE award acknowledging her exceptional leadership

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A morning panel discussion that included UBC researchers and communicators

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Submitted by the DAE HR Team – recipients of the Team Spirit award at UBC’s 2015 Sports Day!

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DAE taking part in UBC activities on campus – Joy of Feeding in 2016 through Land & Food Systems


Have a story to share about what you’re doing to create an engaging workplace in your department and the impact for staff and faculty? Please send your submissions to communications@hr.ubc.ca