‘Speaking Up’ Results: Aiming for successful work and life integration for U of T staff and faculty

November 17, 2015

Work-Life Integration, Speaking Up

A key finding of the ‘Speaking Up’ survey is that the University of Toronto is fortunate to have faculty, staff, and librarians who are so dedicated to the institution and our students. U of T faculty, staff, and librarians are committed to and take pride in their work here, which makes our third ‘focus area’, Work-Life Integration, critical for employee experience and success.

“The University of Toronto strives to create policies and programs that support a flexible and healthy workplace for all employees. We understand the challenge of maintaining a sense of balance and time for personal, work and family life and we want to work together to help our faculty, librarians, and staff achieve this goal,” says, Angela Hildyard, Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity, University of Toronto.

What is ‘Work-Life Integration’?

Work-life integration has been discussed in research and the popular press in recent years. A Harvard Business Review article, “What Successful Work and Life Integration Looks Like”, notes: “The Idea that ‘work’ competes with ‘life’ ignores that ‘life’ is actually the intersection and interaction of four major domains: work, home, community, and the private self.” In the Forbes article, “Work Life Integration: the New Norm”, we learn that today, “professionals have to blend what they do personally and professionally in order to make both work.”

The ‘Speaking Up’ Faculty & Staff Experience Survey shows us that 69% of U of T faculty, staff and librarians report feeling either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the balance between their private and professional lives. When our numbers are compared with industry standards, U of T is in line with our peers’ results. Ipsos, the firm that conducted our survey in 2010 and 2014, benchmarks this question with other Canadian organizations and employees in what they call their “Representative Employee Database (RED)”.

Uoft - 69 percent, RED Education Canada - 68 percent, RED Public Services Canada - 67 percent, RED Education NA - 69%

While our results for this question have stayed consistent between the 2010 and 2014 survey, the good news is that 77% of employees agree that their work unit is a place where individuals may comfortably raise personal and/or family responsibilities when scheduling work obligations.

The results from the past three iterations of the ‘Speaking Up’ survey demonstrate this is an area for improvement across the University. Our faculty, librarians, and staff are deeply committed to their work and need greater supports, such as family-related resources or work flexibility where possible, to promote an increase in work-life integration.

Work-Life Integration Resources

The University of Toronto is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s Top Family-Friendly Employers. Key to this can be attributed to the Family Care Office (FCO), which provides resources for the well-being of individuals and families at the University of Toronto. Services and programs are designed to support issues and needs central to quality of life, education, and wellness at the University.

“Providing a family-friendly work environment is a key value for the Family Care Office (FCO). Our employees define who their family is and through the FCO’s confidential guidance, resources, and educational programming, we aim to support employees in managing their diverse family needs with their responsibilities at work,” says, Francesca Dobbin, Director, Family Programs & Services.

Highlights of FCO workshops and initiatives:

  • Workshops and groups that address topics such as stress management, healthy caregiving, and mindful parenting
  • Events in conjunction with Hart House, the Athletic Centre and external groups across on campus and throughout the GTA region
  • Information and consultations on employee pregnancy, parental, family caregiver, and family medical leaves, employment standards and employment insurance

The Organizational Development & Learning Centre (ODLC) provides a range of services for staff to promote work-life integration through a positive and healthy balance between personal, work and family life at U of T.

Highlights of ODLC workshops and initiatives:

  • Consultations on a variety of work-life issues for individuals with managers and staff and providing customized workshops for Departments and Faculties
  • Assisting with the development of proposals for flexible work arrangements
  • Programming and events, including Celebrate IT – Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month in October
  • Online quizzes for individuals to assess their work-life: mental health, healthy habits and time management
  • A list of websites with information on government resources, nutrition and fitness and emotional wellbeing

The Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) offers free and confidential counselling on a range of topics, including coaching on health, life balance and career, and online resources for employees of U of T who are eligible to participate in the University’s group benefit programs (see the brochure for details and check with your HR representative if you are unsure of your eligibility).

Relax and Unwind by Engaging in Recreation and Culture at U of T

Athletic and wellness centres at the University offer opportunities to incorporate a health and fitness break around your work schedule. Centres are located on all three campuses, including the new including the new Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre at UTSC and Goldring Centre on the St. George campus.

U of T fitness facilities offer access to gymnasia, pools, strength and conditioning areas, indoor tracks, dance studios, group fitness spaces, drop-in & registration based fitness classes, racquet courts, and more! To become a member of any of the athletic and fitness facilities check out the membership options for each campus: UTM, UTSC, and St. George.

Arts & culture abounds of U of T, offering ideas for a creative lunch break or an arty after work outing! The Doris McCarthy Gallery at UTSC and the Blackwood Gallery at UTM presents curated exhibitions featuring local, national, and international contemporary art. The current exhibit running until January 23, 2016 at the Doris McCarthy Gallery, “Complex Social Change,” is an examination of the recent Occupy and Idle No More movements.

Hart House is the centre of culture at the St. George campus. The Gallery Grill, Arbor Room, seasonal outdoor patio, cozy libraries and music rooms, athletic facilities, and the theatre are just some of the offerings to explore in the beautiful 1919 building. Visit the Hart House ‘What’s On’ page to learn about the current events and workshops like the Winter Buffet and tickets for a production of Hamlet!

Work-Life Integration Resource Repository – ‘Call out’ for initiatives & ideas!

What is your department, division and or Faculty doing to promote work-life support? A list of services and supports related to work-life integration will live on the ‘Speaking Up’ website. The website serves as a repository of initiatives stemming from the results and divisional consultations. Contact us at hrandequity@utoronto.ca if you want your division’s initiatives highlighted on our ‘Areas of Focus’ webpage.

Areas of Focus and Speaking Up - Work-Life Integration Icon

Final thoughts… for now

Work-life integration is an essential part of fostering, maintaining, and promoting a healthy and positive work environment at U of T. Employee satisfaction and success is a significant factor in U of T’s consistent ranking as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and an area of the utmost importance to us all.

In the next article, we will look at our results as they relate to the focus area of Communication.

For more information and to share your comments and questions

Visit uoft.me/speakingup to learn more and access tools about the survey. Share your thoughts and comments with us at hrandequity@utoronto.ca.


Freidman, S. (2014, October 7). What Successful Work and Life Integration Looks like. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/10/what-successful-work-and-life-integration-looks-like

Schawbel, D. (2014, January 21). Work Life Integration: The New Norm. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2014/01/21/work-life-integration-the-new-norm/