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‘We look to create and cultivate a healthy environment’: Lakeland College Top 75 Employers

Lakeland College is being recognized for its effort to cultivate a safe and productive environment for staff and students.

The post-secondary is one of five Alberta institutions to be named one of Alberta’s Top 75 Employers. This is the fourth consecutive year the institution has received the accolade.

President and CEO Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart says the school is continually looking to implement ways to ensure it’s a top employer.

“I am very big on cross-functional teams as we approach new territory to try to understand and give a voice to everyone.”

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For around a year and a half, the college has implemented initiatives such as a cross-functional team made up of people from different areas with a new mission, vision and values.

Lakeland College’s values are learners’ success, integrity, respect, community, excellence and innovation. Instead of having them on the school wall, Wainwright-Stewart says the college has been exploring the characteristics of each of the values.

She says they looked at people who may share these values seeing what they bringing to the table.

“By doing that we’re able to roll out our values in a way so that people are embracing it and understanding it in an intuitive and personal way.”

The institution also began the guarding minds committee that’s focused on mental health in the workplace training. Coming off one of Lakeland’s regular Safe Space training sessions, Wainwright-Stewart believes the perception and practices begin to change within the staff which trickles down to students.

“When I think about the strides that Lakeland has taking to try to build capacity and intercultural understanding and diversity is very important. We’re an inclusive college to do what they can to improve not only perception but often times training.”

“In my opinion, I believe when you have well, healthy, well-rounded employees it’s portrayed onto the students.”

Alberta Top Employer judges noted several reasons for selecting Lakeland such as a variety of campus amenities for employees at Lakeland including meditation and religious observance, and a family-friendly culture with maternity leave top-up payments for new mothers (to 95 per cent of salary for up to 12 weeks).

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Wainwright-Stewart spoke of an employee who had emailed her the day of the interview with The single mother had sent a thank you note expressing her gratitude for Lakeland giving her the time off while she took care of her sick parents and child.

“When you get those types of emails you go ‘wow, this culture we’re trying to create is actually working’. That will be paid forward because I believe that when you [create and cultivate] that environment it will be passed on.”

The 2020 Alberta Top Employers list was released on Feburary 20th using criteria such as physical workplace, work atmosphere, and performance management and development.

Wainwright-Stewart says the biggest issue with a big organization is communication. Moving forward, the institution plans to look at ways to ensure there is transparency among employees and growth and development which ultimately impacts students.

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