HR Times Issue 03: Workplace Health and Wellness

Page 1

HR Times

Volume 1 | Issue 3 | January 2021 SFU HRSA


About Us................................1 Editor’s Notes..........................2 Theme...................................3 Introduction to Professionals...........4 Interview with Professionals .........5-8 Introduction to Students................9 Interview with Students.............10-13 Insights of the Day....................14 SFU HRSA Updates.......................15 Thank readers..........................16 Thank sponsorships.....................17 CPHR Promotion.........................18


About us The Human Resources Student Association (HRSA) is a student-run business organization at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business. We provide students with networking opportunities and resources to learn about the various functions of Human Resources and its significance in the workplace. Through the initiatives and events offered by the organization, HRSA strives to increase student awareness and engagement. Founded in 2004, HRSA is regarded as a successful and accomplished student organization, recognized as the only Human Resources business organization at SFU. HR Times is a magazine run for students by HRSA. Founded in 2020 as a new initiative, we hope to support and inform students of the various trends in HR. Connect with us on our social media: IG: @sfuhrsa FB: Linkedin: sfuhrsa/ Website:


Editor’s Note Welcome back to the third issue of HR Times! It’s 2021, and that means new New Year’s Resolutions! Whatever changes you want to make in your life - picking up a new skill, exercising more, spending more time with

friends and family or maybe eating healthier - there’s no better time to do it and turn it into a routine! Our theme for this issue is Workplace Health and Wellness. While 2020 has been a tough year for everyone around the world, we recognize the

importance of mental health and wellness in a corporate and school setting. Through this issue, you may learn insights regarding implementing HR practices and cultivating a positive culture from different professionals and advice from students on studying remotely!

We’d like to also give a big shoutout to our Corporate Relations Coordinator, Lisa, who wrote some enlightening puns and jokes to help start off your 2021 year with a big smile!


Selena Situ

Teresa Li

Jordan Chiang

Victor Le

Lisa Yang

Vice President of Corporate Relations & External Relations

Vice President of Corporate Relations & External Relations

External Relations Coordinator

External Relations Coordinator

Corporate Relations Coordinator




Selena Situ Teresa Li Jordan Chiang Victor Le Lisa Yang

Catherine Cui Naomi Crich Janice Wang

Jessica Pham, Helen Su, Selena Situ, Teresa Li, Chenlei Zhang, Simran Sharma, Harman Chhina




Workplace health and wellness is increasingly becoming a prominent subject in many organizations. Over the past few years, employees have cited job burnout and stress as major contributing factors to their work-life imbalance. This momentum has caused many companies to reshape their values along with increasing awareness over their employees’ wellness. One might think the concept of workplace health and wellness to be overwhelming, but it is merely part of an organization’s practice to promote healthy behaviour from employees. By establishing effective workplace health and wellness practices, organizations can reduce employee absenteeism and be able to maintain consistent work productivity.


Introduction to Professionals Aura’s mission is to help leaders build community with their teams, and design workspaces that value and celebrate everyone. A strategic HR professional with a decade of experience in Human Resources & Business Management, she has worked in the financial, insurance, pharmaceutical, tech, and not for profit industries. In 2020, Aura was also recognized as one of the top TikTok & Instagram Break Out Starts to follow in the HR social media space. She is currently the Founder of Aura Telman Consulting, a boutique HR consulting firm specializing in holistic human resources solutions for purpose driven organizations. She believes people breathe life into every business, and she’s committed to making a positive impact in the human resources industry through helping companies communicate, connect with, and grow their people in a healthy and sustainable way. She combines HR strategies with mindfulness at work. Liana is a HR Manager at the University of British Columbia. She has worked in various industries such as manufacturing, food & facilities management services, banking, and government, which has allowed her to gain a wide breadth of knowledge and experiences in multiple areas of HR. She recently graduated from the UBC Sauder School of Business with a MBA, and received her Bachelor of Business Administration at SFU in 2012.

Monica is an HR professional currently working at Paladin Security as the People & Culture Generalist. She graduated with a Criminology degree, and a Human Resources Management Certificate from SFU. She enjoys travelling and exploring new places especially ones that are in our own backyard. Her favorite hobby before the pandemic was playing sports such as volleyball and basketball. Since the pandemic started, she found a love for trying new recipes and challenging herself physically with different types of home workouts.


Interview with Professionals Q: What are some things that you personally do to achieve a healthy work-life balance? What challenges do you face when trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance? Aura: I strive for a healthy worklife balance by setting boundaries around my work time, communication and turn around times for projects. I have a morning routine that begins with 15 min of exercise, meditation, and a great cup of coffee, and that sets me up for the day. When I finish my workday, I turn off notifications on my phone, otherwise I will be tempted to continue doing work, and I take time for myself, to relax and spend time celebrating my daily wins. I also love going out in nature, it usually releases a lot of stress for me, so I sometimes take mini breaks throughout the day to go outside and center myself. The biggest challenge for me is turning off my “work-brain” and I do this by planning something fun after work, it could be chatting with a friend, taking a walk, or cooking something, any activity that clearly defines the end of the workday.

Monica: To achieve a healthy worklife balance, I ensure that I make time for physical activity either before or after my workday, take mini breaks throughout the day to stretch, and shutting off my computer by a specific time. As many of us are working from home now, it can be difficult to step away from work when work is literally steps away from you. I found it important to set boundaries so that I’m not burning myself out. I think the challenge I face when it comes to maintaining a healthy work life balance is the guilt I feel if I do not get to accomplish the tasks

Liana: In the world of Zoom and Google meetings, where professional and personal life blend together at home, it’s easy to forget the time of day. I often find myself being able to sit in front of my computer for hours at a time, jumping from meeting to meeting, and even forgetting to eat sometimes. With work and school being more demanding than ever, it’s important to self-regulate and know when to turn off. Keeping connected with friends and family during my free time is what recharges me, not answering another work email, so I purposely make the effort to give my attention 100% to the people I’m with during personal time. Also, when I’m stressed, I do the thing that lets me release that energy. Whether it’s pounding the gym, bashing some bad guys in the latest video game, or immersing myself in a different world through reading, doing something where you can forget all the things that frustrated you during the day is important. I wanted to during the day due to my meeting schedule. Because of this, I feel that I need to work past my work hours to get more things completed, which can sometimes interfere with my evening plans. However, as mentioned, boundaries are important, so I still try to make sure that I’m not logging off work after 6:30pm.


Q: In what ways does your organization promote workplace health and wellness to its employees? What are some benefits that you have noticed from your organization’s initiatives? Aura: I look at health and wellness as both physical and mental wellness, and while I support client organizations through traditional benefits strategies, this year we did a couple different things such as virtual group exercise classes, virtual nutritionist taught classes on how to stay healthy while at home, and reimbursement for fitness & exercise apps. What has been more impactful however, has been mental wellness initiatives. Some of these included promoting Employee Assistance Programs, a Mindfulness at Work Campaign, group meditations, and reimbursement for apps such as Calm, Headspace and BetterHelp – which are meditation & virtual counselling apps. The benefits include reduction in stress, higher engagement, and in some cases an easier transition to remote work.

Liana: UBC really encourages health & wellbeing, promoting all aspects of health management (both physical and mental). Not only do they have great company benefits to use for professional services, every year they hold a variety of events to promote physical activity and mental health awareness. For example, they have Staff and Faculty Sports Day in the summer (think of it as a race with multiple fitness tasks) and Thrive month in the winter (mental health education & programs). There is also funding provided to departments who want to start a sustainable healthrelated initiative for their employees. Overall, UBC has done a great job in giving the resources to people to live well both at work and at home, which creates happier and healthier employees.

Monica: Paladin Security promotes workplace health and wellness in a number of different ways, including providing wellness tips in our monthly newsletter with topics such as healthy eating, active living and mental health. We also run wellness challenges that can be done from work or home. For our last challenge, we had employees post a photo or video of them doing something that made them feel good, like cooking dinner or a home workout. The challenges don’t just come from head office though, as each department or branch can come up with one that best suits its employees. The challenges were a fun way to keep us all engaged and encourage healthy living at the same time. Additionally, we offer corporate membership gym rates with Goodlife Fitness and Club16. Finally, we promote a mentally healthy workplace through offering flexible schedules, an employee assistance program, support from team members who are trained in mental health first aid, and monthly awards. This has made a positive impact throughout our organization, with results seen through surveys, higher than average retention rates, and corporate culture awards (Canada’s Best Managed Companies Award, and Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Culture Award).

Q: With the COVID-19 pandemic still at large, how has your organization transitioned health and wellness to individuals who work from home? Aura: With many employees working from home, mental health has become a top priority. This means checking-in more often, increased communication between leaders/managers and their teams, and not only providing health and wellness resources for employees, but actively engaging them in their own health and wellness goals. We include employees in decisions about benefits, perks and programs – by finding out what they really want and need. WFH surveys are great for finding out what people need, and pulse surveys are even better for gathering sentiment, morale and real team feedback. In addition, providing employees with functional workspaces has also become part of physical health and wellness strategy – like having ergonomic furniture at home, automatic reminders to stand up and take breaks, and more frequent informal team meetings to simulate the social interactions we would normally have in the office.

Liana: While physical activity is as important as ever, there has been an even bigger focus on mental health and wellbeing. Social isolation and lack of meaningful interaction with family, friends, and co-workers have really been an issue for 2020. With everything going virtual now, UBC has found ways to deliver programs through different communication methods to still engage and connect employees. For example, during the height of the pandemic, UBC began doing virtual fitness and mindfulness challenges, providing free resources on relaxation techniques and holding Universitywide recreational “movement breaks” led by the UBC Rec team. Just because things are virtual, doesn’t mean the support has to stop! Making sure that people can still connect with each other in fun ways and knowing that they’re not alone is how employers can still create an environment of trust, openness and health. Monica: Managers have regular check-ins with their employees to ensure they are feeling connected and engaged with their team members. Despite many of us working from home, we continue to ensure that our employees are recognized and rewarded for their efforts through verbal appreciation and notes, as well as gifts. We have also fully embraced video conferencing, which has allowed us to announce and recognize award winners and celebrate the hard work and dedication our employees continue to show. As the new year has just started, we have not had a chance to run any wellness challenges yet but intend to do so in the next while.



Q: If and how does your organization measure and keep track of an individual’s health/wellness at the workplace? Aura: Tracking individual health/ wellness has evolved a lot – there’s several work wellness apps on the market that can help you track benefits usage, run assessments, track employee activity and more. I recommend a combination of ongoing conversations between leaders and their people, analysis (surveys, focus groups, looking at employee engagement rates, turnover rates, PTO/ sick leave, and pulse survey results), and technology (wellness apps). Building authentic relationships with your people will give you a high degree of insight into their health and wellbeing. This takes time, trust and nurturing of relationships, but yields the best results in terms of identifying any trends or individual roadblocks. Monica: We currently do not track our employee’s individual health & wellness at the workplace. We rely on our managers to continually connect with their employees and speak about any challenges they may be facing that could affect their mental or physical health. On a larger scale, we look at statistics of our employee assistance program (EAP) to see how many employees are using it and whether they are finding it helpful. The work from home challenges mentioned above are also a good way to keep tabs on employee’s health & wellness, as it encourages them to be active and socialize. If they are not participating, it gives managers an excuse to check in.

Liana: UBC performs a number of surveys on staff, faculty, and student engagement throughout the year and these surveys often have various questions about health and wellness. This has lead to UBC’s Wellbeing Strategic Framework, which lays out the targets and goals for the University to increase wellness at both campuses. As time progresses, the surveys are a great way to measure impact on the health & wellbeing initiatives run by the University.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to tell our audience? Aura: The way we work, communicate and connect is changing – inevitably the way we look at health and wellness benefits for our teams is also changing. The days of traditional benefits packages being enough are over, more personalized health & wellness plans and choices are key. Mental wellness is more important than ever. When we support the holistic health and wellness of our employees, we empower them to grow and personally develop – which will inevitably show up as higher engagement, productivity, higher retention, and all the other buzzwords we like to use in HR. Connect with your people, find out what they need, and co-create wellness strategies for 2021.


Introduction to Students Selina is in her final semester at SFU studying Human Resources. She has been working as an HR Assistant at Safe Software since 2019 and is looking forward to continuing with the company once she finishes her studies. Through this role, she has gained a passion for learning about strategies to increase employee engagement, creating more efficient and effective hiring processes, and how to promote continuous learning in the workplace. Outside of the office, she is currently the Co-President of Young Women in Business SFU, where she co-leads and mentors the executive team to promote women empowerment and provide opportunities for students to grow both professionally and personally. In her free time, she loves to practice yoga at home, watch anime and Studio Ghibli films, and is currently training to run a half-marathon later this year! Karen is in her final year at the Beedie School of Business, concentrating in Human Resources and Marketing. She is currently on co-op as a Marketing Assistant at Microserve, and has previously completed her first co-op term as a Human Resources Intern at NETGEAR. Throughout her undergrad, Karen has had the opportunity to be involved with student organizations such as AIESEC, BMP, HRSA, and is currently the Vice President of Internal Operations for SFU JDC West. These experiences have shaped her to become an empathetic, well-rounded individual who is passionate about helping others grow to reach their potential. In her free time, she loves to explore new restaurants around Vancouver and grab desserts with her friends! Jessica is a fifth-year student at the Beedie School of Business, concentrating in Marketing and Human Resources. She is also pursuing a Labour Studies Certificate in Workplace Rights to expand her understanding within HR. Her past involvement with AIESEC and BMP has allowed her to realize her interest in her two concentrations, leading her to take on coops in both areas. Outside of school she enjoys travelling and looks forward to exploring the world again sometime!


Interview with Students Q: In your past club/leadership experiences, what was one key activity you/your club did that improved the overall health and wellness of all members? Selina: One exciting project that I spearheaded at the office was planning and hosting a Wellness Fair for all of our staff members at Safe! This involved tasks such as reaching out to local businesses to come on-site to booth at the fair, connecting with the Canadian Mental Health Association to collaborate and have them present a workshop about mental health in the workplace, and coordinating additional logistics such as catering lunch and preparing the booths and presentation areas. With the help of my lovely team, we were able to help improve the overall health and wellness of our employees through sharing resources, education, and providing a delicious and healthy lunch! Jessica: Through my past experiences, I realize that regular check-ins are essential to ensuring the overall mental health and wellness of members! Doing so will help increase communication within your team as you can identify any barriers to success or areas that members need support with. This can also help in realizing areas of growth to keep them motivated - some may want to take on more responsibility while others may already have their plate full. Understanding each member’s situation and providing them with support in their role can help generate greater overall success!

Karen: During my experiences in AIESEC as the Vice President of Talent Management, which acts as the HR function, I made it a priority of mine to check in with each individual member. I wanted to ensure that they all individually felt valued for the work that they put in, and that they were gaining tangible skills out of their experience. This allowed my team and I to learn more about how to best support each member, while focusing on member development and retention strategies. In addition to having socials, at the end of the year we hold an Appreciation Night to celebrate all our successes and look back on all our accomplishments. A simple “thank you” and “great job!” goes a long way, so if you’re an exec member, make sure to appreciate all the members who put in their time and effort! Likewise, if you’re a member, say thank you to the execs because they put a lot of hard work and dedication into what they do.


Q: From an HR perspective, do you have any advice for working students that may encounter health and wellness problems in their workplace? Selina: The emphasis on health and wellness is highly valued by both current and prospective employees, so if you get the chance to work at an organization that recognizes the importance of mental wellbeing, this is a wonderful aspect to embrace if you are working in the HR team! If your workplace has health and wellness policies in place, be sure to review them and learn about resources available for staff to better prepare yourself to navigate through any issues. At the same time, be sure to speak with your manager and/or team before handling any health and wellness related problems that are brought up by an employee - this is a great opportunity to learn by example and have your team guide you along the way. From there, you can debrief and learn how to act upon similar issues that may come up in the future. As well, if you have a chance to revise or implement any health and wellness initiatives to improve employee well-being or address specific concerns, I would highly suggest taking that on!

Karen: Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health is now more important than ever. Good communication skills are super important in the workplace, along with building a strong connection with your manager and teammates. Be communicative with what tasks you are interested in learning, but also learn to be comfortable with saying no. If you’re being asked to take on additional tasks on top of your already packed schedule, you’re sacrificing your work/ life balance for the benefit of your workplace and face the risk of burning out. Know your value, don’t underestimate your workload, and focus on the quality of your work rather than the quantity. The best way to approach this situation would be to be professional, assess your situation, and provide an alternative. Rather than saying “I can’t take on that task”, consider a response such as “I’d love to take on another task, but I’m currently working on xyz tasks and don’t have the capacity to do so. If it’s not a rush, I can work on the new task after my deadline for xyz task next week.” Jessica: Don’t be afraid to ask for support! If you are encountering issues in your workplace that impact your health and wellness, be it mentally or physically, reach out to your supervisors and explain your situation to them. They may provide you with suggested accommodations that can help you continue to do your work to the best of your ability. Some of my past supervisors were strong advocates of health and wellness in the workplace and were helpful in resolving any concerns. Additionally, if you are in a role through the coop program, reach out to your coop advisor for additional support!


Q: Do you have any advice for students trying to balance between school, work, extracurriculars and/or personal life?

Selina: In addition to general tips such as writing out your schedule, outlining your to-do’s, and overall time management skills (SFU has really great articles on these topics), my biggest advice for students trying to balance their commitments is to prioritize their mental health. A common trait (that I definitely exemplify myself) is forgetting to make time to do things you enjoy whether it’s hanging out with friends, volunteering, reading a book, watching shows, etc. I think enjoying your university experience is so important, so be sure to make time to do things that make you smile and bring fulfillment to your dayto-day! Practicing this act of prioritization is a skill that requires constant trial and error and recognition of what works well for you, as well as frequent self-reflection on what is important to your well-being, what your goals are, and how to reach these goals.

Karen: Balancing all these aspects of your life is definitely easier said than done! My first tip would be to use Google Calendar extensively. At the beginning of each semester, I sit down and plan out an overview of the next few months. Block out times when you have class, work, and team meetings for clubs. In addition, block out times for study sessions and for yourself to unwind at the end of the night! On a day-today basis, I create to-do lists on a sticky note. I break my tasks down into small, tangible tasks and aim to complete 5-6 tasks per day. When writing out your tasks, rather than saying “Start BUS381 Essay”, it should be “Create essay outline and find 2-3 supporting articles” to ensure your goal is easily identifiable. Crossing off your tasks once you’ve finished them makes you feel productive as you progress through the day. Finally, make sure to take breaks during your study sessions! Personally, I work for 45 minutes and then I take a 15 minute break. I make a study playlist that is about 45 minutes long, so once my music stops, I know it’s time to take a break and unwind.

Jessica: Balancing everything on your plate can be a lot and can often lead to burnout, especially during these uncertain times. While everyone has different strategies to deal with stress, I found that establishing a structure and routine helped me the most. With the increased time we spend online with lectures and remote-work, try setting times

for breaks and step away from the screen. Personally, I try to disconnect completely from my task at hand during my break and would go for a walk or eat some snacks. This helps me return to my computer feeling rejuvenated and often with a new idea or solution to a problem I was facing earlier.


Q: Is there anything else you would like to tell our audience?

Selina: I believe that many students have begun to recognize how important health and wellness is as they progress in their academic career - not only at the workplace to maintain productivity and enhance engagement but also personally as they navigate through their undergraduate experience. My biggest advice is to be proactive in learning and recognizing what works best for you, and also seeking out help when you are struggling. Promoting mental health is a wonderful opportunity that I’ve been able to do here today, so that is how I will end off! Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn if you’d ever like to chat about anything - HR-related or not, I am always happy to hop on a call! :)

Karen: Don’t be afraid to try something new! There’s always room for growth in taking on new experiences and learning how to navigate challenges along the way. There’s no perfect answer to what a healthy work/life balance looks like, the main thing is to just ensure that YOU are happy with your own well-being and productivity. Whether you’re taking courses, on co-op, or about to graduate, I believe in you! Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn if you have any questions or if you’d like to chat! https://


SFU HRSA UPDATES We’re so excited to introduce a new local case competition to our annual pillar event of Spring Soirée! Spring Soirée is HRSA’s annual pillar networking event that invites both industry professionals and students to explore topics surrounding human resources management. Students will have the opportunity to network with over 30 professionals virtually on Sunday, March 21, 2021. Our theme this year is “Transitioning into the Future of HR”, where we will explore the modern changes and implementation of technology in HR. Envision is our first-ever case competition where business undergraduate students can leverage their knowledge to solve an issue. Students will be able to analyze and present their solutions to a panel of professional judges in the preliminary and potential in the final round! Be sure to follow our social media for more information and tickets to Spring Soiree x Envision! Bi-monthly magazine and bi-monthly podcasts are coming your way! Look out for the third podcast of our podcast series, HR Secrets, in February! Follow our social media to learn and stay updated about our opportunities!


Insights of the Day Fun Facts -60 percent of job seekers have quit filling out an employment application due to its length or complexity. (SHRM) -78 percent of employees said they would remain longer with their employer if they saw a career path within the current organization. (Mercer) The top three contributors to employee burnout are unfair compensation (41 percent), unreasonable workload (32 percent), and too much overtime or after-hours work (32 percent) -51 percent of employers say using health and wellness benefits to maintain employee loyalty and retain talent will become even more important in the next 3–5 years. (MetLife) -89 percent of workers at companies that support well-being efforts are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work. (American Psychological Association)

Puns -Why did the can crusher quit his job? A: Because it was soda pressing. -I have a lot of jokes about unemployed people but none of them work.




THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS! Platinum Sponsor: CPHR BC and Yukon CPHR BC & Yukon offers professional development and networking opportunities as well as resources for every stage of your career. Every day, the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon (CPHR BC & Yukon) propels the HR profession forward by supporting its members with education and advocacy. Please see the next page for information on CPHR’s HR Industry Night for Students and New Graduate!

Silver Sponsor: STRIVE Recruitment Since 2008, STRIVE has been a trusted people-partner to organizations throughout North America that range from local businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Located in the heart of the financial district, STRIVE Recruitment is a Vancouverbased recruitment firm that specializes in Accounting & Finance, Manufacturing & Operations, and Corporate Administration. STRIVE is continuously hiring for positions that range from entry-level jobs to executive-level roles. Your Potential. Our Insight.

Bronze Sponsor: Goldbeck Recruiting Inc.

Goldbeck Recruiting is a recruitment and executive search firm located in Vancouver, BC. As true employment consultants, they bridge industry expertise and headhunting excellence with human resource support throughout the hiring process to improve the success of a new recruit. Since 1997, they have filled challenging positions in industries and expertise areas like Sales, Engineering, Biotech, Accounting & Finance, Manufacturing & Operations and the Non Profit sector.