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Expanded services through uncertain times


In a year of unprecedented change, Human Resources (HR) shifted the ways in which it supports faculty, staff and student employees across the university. Not only was the HR team able to continue providing services that Concordians have come to expect, they also offered new resources to help employees succeed in remote and hybrid work environments.

“The health and safety of our community remains our first priorities. As such, we’re giving our workforce tools to deal with this new reality, from how to support a colleague in need to tips for virtual meetings,” says Carolina Willsher, associate vice-president of HR.

“Our aim remains to provide great working conditions to all university employees, regardless of whether they’re spending their workdays on or off campus.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, HR has spearheaded information sessions with employees, managers, directors, chairs, research directors and union leaders to keep Concordians informed on the evolving situation, both at the university and in the greater community.

“The information sessions, as well as sector specific town halls, are very popular across the university. Each of them is very well attended and gives employees a direct line to Concordia’s leadership team,” Willsher adds.

Extended telemedicine and EAP services

As Concordians continued to adjust to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, finding time to seek out clinical care may have proven difficult for some.

To help faculty and staff connect with health-care professionals, telemedicine services were added to the Concordia Health Plan and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) was extended to all employees — including their spouses and dependent children — at no extra cost.

“By offering these two resources, we’re ensuring faculty and staff members have access to resources to improve their overall health and wellbeing,” Willsher says.

“Both Concordia’s EAP and the clinic through Lumino Health Virtual Care are available 24/7 for individuals residing in Canada. What’s more, all interactions between our employees and their health-care professionals remain completely confidential.”

The EAP also provides a wealth of online resources for faculty and staff who want more information on health, work-life balance, financial management, career development and much more.

The move from in-person to virtual training

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of daily life, but not HR’s commitment to offering first-class professional development opportunities to employees and managers.

As the entire Concordia community moved toward virtual learning and work in March, HR’s training and professional development team began offering online courses to the community. They also started planning for what their comprehensive fall training calendar would look like in a virtual environment.

After consulting with various vendors about their offerings, HR launched its first-ever online training calendar to great success. Courses such as The Remote Manager and Leadership without Formal Authority proved so popular that the sessions quickly filled up and will be offered again during the winter term.

“The aim of the professional development program’s newest offerings is to continue its mission to incorporate trends and emerging organizational approaches, while taking into account the reality that the majority of Concordians are now working remotely,” Willsher explains.

“While the format may look different, the goal is still to allow employees to exchange with one another and their workshop leaders so they can gain the most out of our training workshops.”

A top Montreal employer — again

For the fifth year in a row, Concordia was named one of Montreal's Top Employers by the editors of Canada's Top 100 Employers. Among the many reasons the group selected the university were its physical workplace and health, leaves and family benefits.

“We are very proud of our facilities and benefits and how they contribute to the vibrancy of the Concordia community,” Willsher notes.

“But if this year has taught us anything, it’s that the resilience and dedication of faculty and staff is what truly makes this university a unique place to work. Their tireless efforts are what led to Concordia’s extraordinary transformation at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout 2020.”

Project UNITY pushes forward with a new go-live date

Considering the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Project UNITY team, university leaders and different stakeholders moved the implementation of the new solution to May 2021.

By doing this, Concordia is ensuring the community is ready for the much-anticipated administrative transformation.

“Whenever we make a decision, we ask ourselves, how is it going to impact the community?” Willsher notes.

“We are glad to see our community embraces that. We are looking forward to supporting our teams as they navigate this important change.”Project UNITY is a transformative initiative in which Human Resources has partnered with Financial Services and Instructional and Information Technology Services to introduce an integrated information ecosystem. The new solution will facilitate employee access to information and data, and simplify and standardize administrative processes, among many other enhancements to the current system.

With the new go-live date in place, many Concordians are eagerly awaiting May 2021, but perhaps none more so than the project’s co-sponsors.

“With the growth the university has experienced in recent years, our systems were becoming an obstacle to the achievement of our strategic objectives,” explains Willsher, who is a Project UNITY sponsor.

“One of our key strategic objectives is to offer the best service to our community.”

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