Trail maps, aspirations and focusing on the future of work at VIU – People Plan renewal

June 15, 2022 - 12:30pm

As I was planning to write an article on the VIU People Plan and our upcoming work to renew the plan, I reflected on why these types of plans matter. I thought about recent coaching I received when I was out mountain bike riding with a friend. He observed that when I ride, I concentrate heavily on the roots and the rocks that are right in front of me. He pointed out that I need to focus more on the 10-20 feet down the path, not the 2-5 feet ahead of my front wheel. Doing so would better allow me to choose my line and approach to those obstacles and allow me to better modulate my pace and speed. My friend pushed me to use that approach especially when crossing narrow bridges, as he correctly noted that by looking down rather than forward, I was much more likely to be unsuccessful and fall off the bridge!

Developing and following a strategic human resources plan for the University requires the same approach – it is our way of looking beyond the immediate issues in order to articulate where we want to be, what direction and path we need to take. When we developed VIU’s first ever People Plan in 2019, our intent was to map out our path forward in five specific areas, each of which we invited employees across the University to join us in actions towards improving those areas. Staying with the mountain biking analogy, we wanted a trail map for the changes and actions that employees told us they wanted effected. Our hope was that such a trail map would indicate what we aspire to for the experience employees have here at VIU. 

Since the Plan was launched, many of the action items have been completed or are in active implementation. For a summary of what we have accomplished in the past 3 years, please see this page on the People Plan website. When we developed the Plan, we knew we needed to have a means of measuring the impact of our efforts on the employee experience at VIU. It was for that purpose we committed to conducting regular surveys of VIU employees, this first of which took place in 2021. Since the survey results were received and disseminated across VIU, departments and faculties have been engaging in discussions about the results and what actions to take to improve employee experience. In the last issue of VIU Voices, I wrote about VIU’s commitment to addressing the employee experience survey results. Leaders across the university have devised the engagement process that best fits for their area. We recognized this was particularly complex in faculties, and we wanted to leave autonomy for leaders and team members to self-identify what engagement process best suited their area. Having said that, we have been prescriptive that the divisional/area/Faculty plans are to be provided to senior leadership, and the annual performance review of our leaders includes this requirement. You can expect these conversations to continue in your area and you can ask your manager if you have any questions. Senior  Senior Management is committed to addressing all areas of concern in the survey, and have identified the following three key areas of focus for our action plan: communication, engagement, visibility and inspiration; recognition; and efficiency, innovation and accountability.

That takes me to foreshadow what will take place in the fall of 2022 and spring of 2023, which will see the renewal of the People Plan and the related engagement of our community on continuous improvement of the employee experience. It is time to update our trail map and stay focused on our collective future. We developed the original People Plan with a significant amount of consultation, engagement and dialogue opportunity of employees across VIU. The renewal process will follow that same approach, as this is your Plan, and it is only with your input that we can remain a Top Employer in BC. Stay tuned for more detail on how to engage in the People Plan renewal later this summer and into the fall. I look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible. Have a great summer!

-- Dan Dan_VanderSluis_Human_Resources_VIU


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