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