Strategic Plan Overview
The Senate Task Force Report placed considerable emphasis on development of and commitment to an integrated campus-wide internationally recognized wellness vision with measurable goals and initiatives. Since the last update, the Workplace Health Promotion Advisory Committee (WHPAC) has devoted considerable effort to this area.
The initial challenge undertaken by the WHPAC was to articulate how creating and sustaining a healthy work and learning environment is directly linked to the University goals with respect to excellence in teaching and research. After careful consideration, the Committee concluded the health promotion initiative directly links to the University of Alberta Strategic Business Plan in several ways as listed below.
Key Strategic Initiative 1.2 - Provide the best possible learning experience for our students’ lives and careers.
Key Strategic Initiative 1.3 - Create an improved learning environment inside and outside the classroom
Key Strategic Initiative 2.2 - Build productive partnerships to facilitate collaborative research and knowledge transfer
Key Strategic Initiative 3.1 - Attract and retain outstanding faculty, researchers and staff
Key Strategic Initiative 3.3 - Renew and enhance the University’s infrastructure and provide high-quality support services to meet the needs of the future
Key Strategic Initiative 4.1 - Enhance and build connections with our communities
A draft institutional policy and strategic plan has been developed and will undergo formal community consultation pending the arrival of our new President later this year. In the interim, constructive, supportive dialogue with the Deans and various other stakeholder groups has taken place. The WHPAC has also had members participate in consultation on the Academic Plan and the development of Human Resource Vision, Values and Principles discussion document to ensure the health promotion vision and goals are considered in other reviews and deliberations.
The health promotion strategic plan contains four broad goals which are listed below, supported by eleven specific strategic initiatives.
- Establish a culture that supports members of the campus community in achieving work-study-life harmony
- Catalyze and facilitate institutional action to enhance and/or sustain healthy and safe environments, and proactively support individuals in maintaining healthy lifestyles.
- Ensure that health promotion initiatives and opportunities are effective in engaging participation and facilitating individual action.
- Collaborate with the external community on health/health promotion issues and challenges.
The need for program measurement was also considered and the WHPAC has recommended the three areas of pride, productivity and participation be adopted in evaluation of all health promotion programs and initiatives. Specific measures within each category have been proposed, but in general terms:
Pride is considered to be reflected in the degree of emotional and intellectual involvement members of the campus community have in the University and the extent to which they want to, and actually do, support achieving the mission of the University.
Productivity is a measure of the impact on absenteeism/presenteeism, health related trends, costs and experience, and confirmation of a return on investment for programs and initiatives.
Participation is a reflection of the number and percentage of members who access programs or services as an indicator of interest, effectiveness of promotion, and relevance or need.
To maintain the momentum, and ensure that this initiative continues to move forward in a sustained and measured fashion, the committee is focusing on three priority “break through strategies” for 2005/06. These are:
- Communicate direction and focus program development with an Organizational Health Scan.
- Provide resources and ensure success by introduction of a structured Healthy Workplace Program including an emphasis on addressing organizational factors impacting mental health.
- Support employee well-being and resilience through introduction of a Personal Work Life Enhancement Program.
In addition to work by the WHPAC, there are several other initiatives underway that will provide valuable insight into future direction. Restricted access to fitness programs was a specific concern in the Senate Task Force report. The Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation is currently undertaking a study to assess the level of physical activity of staff members and to examine the psychological and environmental factors that may be influencing physical activity. Specifically, the study will examine activity levels, motivational factors, psychological commitment to exercise and environmental barriers to physical activity. The data will then be used to assist Campus Recreation programmers to better meet the needs of staff in their program provision.
The Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation has also embarked on community consultation on a new Health & Wellness Centre. Unlike comparable universities, the U of A has only one fitness centre on campus, which must accommodate a campus population of 45,000+. It has been proposed that a new fitness centre be constructed to better meet the fitness and health needs of the entire campus, and would provide lab space for researchers. Consultation is ongoing.
The AAS:UA, in collaboration with various stakeholders on Campus, is in the process of convening a study to examine concerns related to workloads, work life balance and stress among faculty and Administrative & Professional Officers. While this issue is not new, the purpose of the study is to gain a better understanding of the specific nature and scope of the issues so a more meaningful discussion of recommendations and strategies can be undertaken to address the concerns.
Benefit plan reforms being discussed over the past year have also included a significant focus on prevention. The Academic Benefits Management Committee in particular has been successful in enhancing the benefit plan to include added support in several key areas.