Celebrating Our Strengths and Addressing Our Opportunities


Dan VanderSluis is the Associate Vice-President Human Resources.

April 2, 2022 - 3:00pm

By Dan VanderSluis, Associate Vice-President, Human Resources 

As part of our commitments made under the VIU People Plan,  in the fall of 2021 employees were asked to participate in an all-employee survey. The results of the survey provide a snapshot of your experience at VIU, which reflects VIU’s strengths as a workplace, as well as where we can grow and improve.

 For a quick recap, the survey was conducted by EPSI, a Canadian firm with more than 25 years of experience and a specific expertise in employee engagement surveys. The university-wide report was presented to employees at the all-employee information session on February 24, 2022, and departmental/faculty level reports are being shared with employees within their respective areas of VIU. In the People Plan, there was a commitment to a cycle of hearing from employees through the survey, engaging employees in the solutions and strategies, and then asking employees what improvements have been experienced.

This first survey gave many important insights and provided a baseline against which we can gauge our improvement over time.

The strengths:

  • People love their work and appreciate their teams.
  • Overall they are engaged and have a strong desire to see VIU succeed.
  • Employees understand how their work contributes to the overall success of the University.
  • The implementation of flexible work during the pandemic has been well-received.
  • Individuals experience a high level of support from their colleagues.

The main areas for improvement: 

  • The strongest message sent in the survey is that employees do not see VIU has having efficient processes. This result is consistent with the similar concern raised in the People Plan consultations and is why one of the commitments in the People Plan was to address Operational Effectiveness and Innovation.
  • Employees want to see growth in open and transparent communication from senior leadership
  • Senior leadership needs to promote and foster innovation, and demonstrate further engagement with and ownership of needed changes at VIU.

Based on the results from the survey, there are three priority areas that the Senior Management Team (SMT) will focus on in its action planning. The three areas are:

  • Institutional efficiency, effectiveness and accountability
  • Recognition
  • Communication, engagement, visibility and inspiration.


Where do we go from here?

Leaders are communicating the results from their respective areas and starting conversations to celebrate the successes and address the opportunities that are highlighted in those departmental and Faculty reports. I encourage you to participate fully in those discussions so you can help identify and implement action that is meaningful to you.

You can look forward to seeing actions being taken on the strengths and areas for improvement listed above.  We are inviting teams to create plans to build on their own strengths and address any areas of improvement based on the conversations you have of your own results. We each have a chance to make a positive impact on those around us.

Improving employee experience at VIU requires changes that are informed by you and that you view as meaningful. The leadership at VIU is committed to addressing the key areas and communicating with you, as well as receiving feedback about the effectiveness of these improvements.  The Strategic Plan, People, Place, Potential specifically states our deep commitment to and pride in the growth of our employees. To reach our potential we must be open to understanding our areas for improvement.

At VIU, there are many successes to celebrate, despite the challenges that the pandemic has wrought at our institution. Celebrating and building on these successes is another key way of honouring your employee experience at VIU. For three years in a row, VIU has received an award as one of the Top Employers within BC. This competitive award “recognizes the British Columbia employers that lead their industries in offering exceptional places to work”. The 2021 Employee Experience Survey shows there is room for improvement, and as an educational institution VIU should continuously learn, grow, and improve. And what both the survey and awards like the Top Employer also show is there is a strong foundation to build upon.

I find the reflections and signals from employees via the 2021 survey motivating and challenging. When the cross-institutional group constructed the People Plan, the intent was to communicate the vision aspired to for your experience here at VIU. As the senior leader responsible for VIU’s people and institutional culture, you have my commitment that we will continue to build towards the vision expressed in the People Plan.

It will require each of us in our own roles and our own spheres of influence to help move VIU forward. Collectively we can ensure that VIU is a place where you matter and where you feel your place.

Tags: In the Community

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