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Turning results into action from Dal’s Quality of Work Life survey

- February 9, 2018

Employees taking part in the "Tupper Trek."
Employees taking part in the "Tupper Trek."

The 2017 Quality of Work Life survey (QWL) conducted last spring provided insights into the people that work at Dalhousie, and their experience at work.

 The survey data helped identify areas where Dal is succeeding as a workplace, as well as where we are making progress and need improvement. It also serves as a guide for the university to develop new initiatives and tailor existing strategies to address the needs of the Dal community.

“We are pleased to see that employees continue to show pride in working at Dal and there has been an increase in trust in senior leaders,” says Janice MacInnis, manager of organizational health. “We know from the survey recommendations that we can do better in providing support and resources to faculty and staff as it relates to physical activity, coping skills and being a respectful workplace.”

Here’s a look at some of the programming underway:

Physical health and wellness


New activities around physical health and wellness begin in February, as part of Move More Month, and include (but are not limited to):

  • Intro to Tai Chi class is starting February 22 at lunchtime.
  • The annual Tupper Trek that has expanded to include the new Life Sciences Centre (LSC) Trek.
  • Beginning this spring, a wellness poster campaign will launch and feature different ways to stay healthy at work.
  • The Better You Crew is a pilot project that Dal Libraries is launching with its staff that focuses on both individual and workplace wellness. This program explores wellness from a departmental perspective, with a plan to bring the initiative to other departments in the future.

Coping and resiliency


Coping and resiliency workshops will continue with some new programs being added:

  • Lighten Up Your Day gave employees a chance to learn how to use humour as a coping mechanism both in the workplace and at home.
  • On Being Positive is part of Dal’s Thrive initiative (a product of the 2015 QWL survey results) and focuses on teaching participants how to focus their energy into positive efforts.
  • G.R.I.T. Resilience Training (coming up in March) will give participants strategies and tactics to use when going through difficult times, in order to more readily “bounce back.”
  • Moving Gracefully Through Midlife (starting in February) is a series targeted towards women as they progress through (peri)menopause, with strategies for dealing with the challenges they encounter during this time in their lives.

Respectful workplaces


Being a respectful workplace is important to Dalhousie, and there are a number of strategies and programs available to faculty and staff to help encourage and foster respectful behaviour:

  • Getting to the Heart of the Matter is an in-depth workshops series that began in 2016. It addresses strategic approaches to difficult conversations in a way that is productive and respectful. The next series will be offered in October 2018.
  • Managing Difficult Conversations is a workshop held twice a year for those in supervisory roles to build skills in tackling challenging conversations. The next workshop will be offered in September 2018.
  • The Basics of Conflict Resolution is a workshop to instill greater competence and confidence in addressing tension or conflict in relationships at work. The next session will be offered in October 2018.

Beyond in-class skill building, there are many other types of supports in place. Short modules are offered through the Skillsoft online learning library, as well as tips and assessments accessible through the Human Rights and Equity Services (HRES) website. Individuals within HRES and Human Resources are also available to conduct both individual and workplace consultations customized to address specific situations. In addition, our Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is a resource available 24 hours a day at no charge to provide confidential advice and support.

Supporting faculty and staff


Part of being a respectful workplace is employees feeling valued and recognized. In June 2018, the university will host the inaugural university-wide employee recognition event, called the Dalhousie Legacy Awards. This event will bring staff and faculty together from all campuses to recognize and celebrate each other’s achievements.

Additionally, the Diversity and Inclusiveness Strategy (from the Strategic Priority 5.2 to foster a collegial culture grounded in diversity and inclusiveness) has made significant progress. A detailed progress update will be published soon.

“We have more work to do to create a respectful workplace,” adds MacInnis. “The QWL survey has helped quantify the issues and the extent of the problem. Now we will bring greater focus to this aspect of our workplace culture so everyone has the skills and support to be a part of the solution moving forward.”

Dalhousie encourages all staff and faculty to take advantage of the latest programs and opportunities offered out of responses to the 2017 QWL survey. For more information about the QWL survey and the 2017 results, visit the QWL page located under Healthy Workplace on the HR site of myDal.


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