Dalhousie named one of Canada's Top Family‑Friendly Employers

Supporting families

- December 15, 2011

ITS employee Anette Peterson always works with her son, Eamon, nearby. (Ryan McNutt photo)
ITS employee Anette Peterson always works with her son, Eamon, nearby. (Ryan McNutt photo)

It seems fitting, as we approach the season for family gatherings, that Dalhousie celebrates being chosen as one of Canada’s Top Family-Friendly Employers for 2012.

Organizations that are named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers are also eligible for additional awards including the Top Family-Friendly Employer honour, which was announced late last week. This award recognizes those organizations that help their employees balance their work and family commitments. In all, 20 employers across Canada made the list.

Janice MacInnis, coordinator of organizational health with Human Resources, is proud of the university’s many employee and family support initiatives.

“Providing family-focused services is part of a good retention strategy,” she says. “It keeps people here and makes us more attractive as an employer. People want to come to Dalhousie because of the range of opportunities and supports that exist.”

Support for families

Dalhousie has several options available to employees who want to maintain a healthy work-life balance, for themselves and their family members. Family memberships at Dalplex are available at 50 per cent of the regular rate and employees receive 35 per cent off on GoodLife Fitness memberships.

Employees, their spouses, and their dependents may be eligible for tuition assistance for post-secondary study. The university offers a dental clinic, a child care facility, and a comprehensive benefits package that includes health and dental, and a defined benefit pension plan.

One area that Ms. MacInnis feels deserves more attention among employees and their families is the Employee and Family Assistance (EFAP) program. EFAP offers such services as personal and career counselling, financial support, and stress management, which are beneficial to everyone’s well-being.

“Many employees know about the program and are using it, but the program is available to members of their immediate family as well, such as their spouses and children,” she says.

Many employees receive family days for emergency situations involving child or family member care. Vacation entitlements are competitive at Dalhousie, in addition to time off between Christmas and New Year’s for the majority of employees. The university also introduced a telework policy in October 2011, providing guidelines for employees who are able to work in areas outside of the typical office setting.

Opportunities for new parents

Maternity and parental leave options are another benefit for Dalhousie employees. Anette Petersen, with Information Technology Services, is preparing for parental leave in 2012 to spend some quality time with her six-month-old son, Eamon.

“It was challenging trying to figure out when to take some time off, because of my projects,” she says. “I felt some anxiety while planning to leave my job for a while. However, the work will still be managed here, and I don’t want to miss out on that time with my son, so those benefits really outweigh my anxiety.”

Ms. MacInnis believes that Dalhousie has the right mindset for encouraging a balanced lifestyle for employees.

“If we want to keep good people, we have to consider ways we can support the whole person.”

For more information on benefits for families, visit the Employee Benefits website.

Read also: "Want committed employees? Then offer to pay for their family's tuition" (Globe and Mail profile on Dalhousie)


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