Compassionate communication needed to show the value of staff

Transparent communication is essential in all areas of life, but especially in the workplace. We believe the UW communications about working remotely and the return to campus plan last week showed a lack of clarity and compassion for employees. 

It was jarring to receive a survey asking staff how they feel about returning to work, followed by an email the next day with a return to campus decision. Our members have reached out to us and described this impact as showing a lack of care and respect from leadership.

Many of our members who have concerns about returning to campus safely after a challenging two years are not feeling heard. To feel connected and committed, employees need a work environment where they can build relationships and share their ideas and perspectives. Last week’s communications do not reflect a collegial work culture.  

The Faculty Association of UW published a blog on January 26, emphasizing the need for more consultation with employees about how to make a safe return to campus for everyone. UWSA supports this communication wholeheartedly.

UWSA requests that UW sincerely engage all stakeholders to make better, more inclusive decisions. We ask that managers be encouraged to be open to accommodations when requested by those staff returning to work. We ask that UW reflect on the communications of the past week and how they may not have demonstrated support-for and value-of employees.

We strongly recommend that our members complete the Tell Us How You Feel About Return to Work survey and let UW know how you feel and what you need.

We support all our members; some who have been working on campus throughout this pandemic, and those who are preparing to come back to campus for work. We hear about individual challenges and provide advocacy and support. We bring member concerns to the Staff Relations Committee. Area Reps provide information sessions and bring in decision-makers to public meetings where staff can ask for clarification.  We have asked UW to re-issue statements clarifying their actions. We have also worked to get specific answers to specific questions from those within UW with decision making roles.

If you are feeling unsafe, unheard, or have specific workplace concerns, reach out. We are here to advocate on your behalf and guide you to a solution.

Your voice starts here

Dave McDougall, President, University of Waterloo Staff Association


Followup statement was sent from UWSA after learning the link to the survey was closed:

Hello members,

Re:         Compassionate communication needed to show the value of staff

Thank you to the many members who took the time to let us know the Tell Us How You Feel About Return to Work survey is, in fact, closed to digital and paper submissions. A link to the survey was included in the blog  from the President earlier today. We apologize for any inconvenience this caused.

The survey did not include a duration time, but in fact, closed on Wednesday, January 26. The good news from UW Communications is that more than 3,600 people had responded before the survey closed. UW also let us know that an email will be sent to all employees early next week and information about survey results will be posted. Some of the data will be shared at the President’s Forum on Wednesday, February 2 at 1:30 p.m. Other data will take more time and analysis and may not be available to review for at least a month.

We encourage everyone to attend the President’s Forum next week. Registration is required. In the meantime, have a wonderful and safe weekend.

Your voice starts here

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