Sept. 22, 2021 The Division of Human Resources & Equity is now called the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture.

‘Speaking Up’ about feeling valued at U of T

October 14, 2015

Areas of Focus and Speaking Up - Recognition

The Speaking Up survey results showed us that employees of U of T feel a sense of pride and deep-rooted value in the work that they do. One of the five ‘focus areas’ emerging from the results is Recognition – the various ways we appreciate employee successes, achievements and impacts on the success of the University every day.

“At U of T we are tremendously fortunate to have dedicated staff and faculty across the University doing outstanding work. It is because of the significant contributions and expertise of our community members that the University is able to maintain its reputation for excellence,” says Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President & Provost, University of Toronto.

Our faculty members are celebrated globally for their research productivity and expertise. And, we are consistently recognized as a top employer by many external bodies. In 2015, U of T was named one of:

  • Canada’s Top 100 Employers for the eighth consecutive year;
  • Canada’s Greenest Employers for the second year;
  • Greater Toronto’s Top Employers for the ninth consecutive year;
  • Canada’s Top Family-Friendly Employers for the third consecutive year;
  • Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the eighth consecutive year;
  • And Canada’s Top Employers for Canadians Over 40 for the fifth consecutive year.

How does this sense of value filter down to the day-to-day experience of employees at U of T?

The ‘Speaking Up’ Faculty & Staff Experience Survey results show that 71% (up from 64% in 2010) of faculty, librarians and staff at U of T feel valued, and 62% (up from 59% in 2010) feel they receive recognition for their accomplishments at work.

So what does this tell us?

Our faculty and staff are actively engaged and want to know that they are contributing to the bigger picture of U of T’s educational and research mission. The increase from the 2010 survey results tells us that our efforts to improve on and facilitate increased employee recognition are working and having a positive impact on the community.

The results from the three iterations of the ‘Speaking Up’ survey since 2006 confirm that recognition at all levels (institutional, divisional or departmental, team-based, and individual) is important to our employees. Creating a culture of recognition – both formal and informal – across the University remains a priority going forward.

What are we doing?

“We are continuing to focus on fostering a culture of recognition across the University,” says Angela Hildyard, Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity, University of Toronto. “So we are looking forward to hearing from Divisions about what they are doing – particularly with respect to informal recognition initiatives which are used to thank those often ‘unsung heroes’ who work here.”

Here is a snapshot of some of the new and exciting initiatives aimed at promoting recognition for employees of U of T:

  • The new University of Toronto Early Career Teaching Awards and the University of Toronto Teaching Fellowships
  • The launch of the University Operations Annual Staff Achievement Awards
  • The inaugural Jill Matus Award for Student Services Staff
  • The Humans of the University of Toronto – a unique partnership between Human Resources and Equity and a fourth-year student, Jemel May

Divisional Highlight – University of Toronto Libraries (UTL)

The University of Toronto Libraries launched an awards program this year aimed at celebrating excellence and innovation of individuals and teams working within the library system at U of T. The Staff Team Appreciation & Recognition (STAR) Awards recognize contributions of UTL employees in two categories: the Library Innovation Awards and Library On-Going Excellence Award.

“The University of Toronto Libraries is one of the top academic library systems in the world. UTL’s outstanding reputation is based in large part on the extraordinary work of our staff. We recently launched our Staff Team Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Awards, which has been a wonderful way to more formally recognize the great work being done throughout the 44 libraries on the three campuses. We were thrilled that UTL staff engaged in these inaugural awards; collectively they nominated eight teams. These awards are one small way for me to show my profound appreciation to UTL staff for their initiative, creativity and commitment to excellence,” says Larry Alford, Chief Librarian, University of Toronto Libraries.

On September 16th, UTL staff and librarians honoured the first recipients of the new awards at the inaugural STAR Award reception held at the Fisher Library. To learn about the exciting initiatives and great work of library employees, visit the UTL news page.

Recognition Resource Repository

A list of these types of recognition opportunities will live on the ‘Areas of Focus’ website and serve as a repository of initiatives stemming from the results. We look forward to hearing more about innovative ideas for furthering formal and informal recognition across the campuses. Anyone is welcome to share thoughts and feedback at

Final thoughts…for now

We are doing better and finding new ways to celebrate our colleagues, share success stories, and show appreciation to each other with informal ‘thank you’ messages and compliments as well as formal awards programs.