Working Together to Create a Respectful, Trusting, and Healthy Workplace for Faculty, Staff, and Students

Saturday, 18 March 2017: 2:00 PM

Joanne K. Olson, PhD
Joanne Profetto-McGrath, PhD, MEd
Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

A healthy workplace is vital to the recruitment, retention, and success of any academic and practice organization. We also believe as do others that “Psychologically unhealthy work environments lead to higher levels of absenteeism, sick-leave usage, short-and long-term disability claims and turnover.” (Cavanaugh, 2014, p. 31). The purpose of this presentation is to describe the establishment of a healthy workplace committee (HWC) whose goal is to cultivate a culture that supports rewarding and healthy work and learning experiences for all faculty members, staff and students. In addition we aim to discuss the initiatives that were undertaken to create a healthier work environment. These initiatives coincided with the beginning a new Dean’s term and the strategic plan which includes a healthy workplace focus as one of its priorities. The first step was to conduct an online anonymous survey to collect baseline information about various aspects of the work environment. The quantitative section of the survey included 35 questions which were completed using a scale with strongly agree to strongly disagree on a variety of items such as levels of job satisfaction, communication from the leadership team, respectful interactions, exposure to hostility, isolation or conflict, and balance between family and work life. The qualitative aspect of the survey provided participants with the opportunity to respond to questions such as: What do you value about the Faculty of Nursing Workplace environment? What currently contributes to a healthy workplace for you? If the Faculty could work on two key areas to enhance a healthy workplace environment what would you recommend as top priorities? The data from the survey revealed that faculty valued working relationships with their colleagues, and that respect and trust are important values. In response, the HWC began its work by focusing on establishing policies around behaviors and practices that support a respectful and trusting workplace. A follow-up survey was conducted two years later to determine the effectiveness of the policies and practices implemented as a result of the first survey. The work is ongoing and the ad hoc committee has become a permanent standing committee within the Faculty with representative from faculty, staff and the student body. As well, members of the committee now link with the University wellness program which includes faculty, staff and students from across the University.