Good-bye AWP: Supporting attendance and wellness in a new way
Thanks to the tremendous participation in the Attendance & Wellness Promotion (AWP) program redesign survey and focus groups, we have a better understanding of your experiences and ideas for attendance and wellness. Overall, we heard that the AWP program was trying to be all things to all people, which too often made it ineffective and insensitive to your needs.
We want to create a workplace culture where we care for each other, learn, and deliver the best care to our patients, clients and residents. With your involvement, we know we can promote attendance and support wellness in a new way that works for all of us.
What we heard from you
A working group made up of frontline employees, union, leaders and HR representatives—led by Dr. Stacy Sprague, Executive Director of Employee Wellness—has analyzed over 300 written survey submissions and input from 14 focus group sessions across VCH. This is what we heard:
- 69% of you view the AWP program negatively. You believe it encourages people to come to work sick out of fear, and it needs to align with the Enhanced Disability Management Program (EDMP). You said a better approach would be to have meetings with your manager, not an HR advisor. You also want attendance matters separated from wellness discussions. For example, staff with chronic conditions or work-related injuries should not be in an attendance program but should receive supportive services to help them manage their health.
- 23% of you said the AWP program is influential in reducing sick time and it identifies people who need support.
- 7% of you feel neutral about the program, but largely believe it doesn’t focus on wellness.
Your ideas and suggestions for a new approach
You shared many great ideas, and four themes emerged from your feedback:
- Create a different, more individualized attendance approach: Use a different style for attendance meetings, acknowledge that some areas across VCH have a higher likelihood of staff getting sick, and offer an individualized, supportive approach that recognizes grief, disability, mental health, parents, those in a caregiving role with elders, and those with chronic conditions.
- Build a healthy, supportive work environment: Staff want to talk to their manager about their attendance or wellness, yet we recognize that our managers need to be supported, too. We’ll work with managers to explore what they need e.g. training, timely access to information such as sick team data, clear process for connecting staff to appropriate wellness services.
- Support employee health and well-being: Offer more timely self-care supports (more EFAP/Employee Wellness counselling and EDMP) as well as incentives and rewards for good attendance. Also, set clear guidelines to support staff returning to work after an illness or injury.
- Promote a workplace culture of wellness: Offer a wellness program that empowers staff or teams to promote health and how to be and stay well in their workplace.
Recognize potential drivers of sick time
We know that some people call in sick when they’re not sick and there are many reasons why. While the scope of the AWP redesign is focused on attendance management, you asked us to consider: flexible schedules, self-scheduling, different staffing models (more casuals, part-time staff and job sharing), span of leadership (how many staff report to one manager), backfill or break relief lines, and flexible benefits. We heard you and will look at these important drivers that influence sick time as future initiatives.
Based on your feedback and the working group’s recommendations, our next steps are to:
- Close the AWP program and replace it with a set of clear and transparent attendance management guidelines.*
- Establish working groups with frontline staff and managers to develop and implement new ideas in support of the four themes that emerged through feedback (see below).
*Sick time will continue to be accrued, tracked and managed on an individual basis until the new attendance management guidelines are rolled out within the next three to six months. If you have any questions, please have a conversation with your manager.
Join a working group and make a difference
These working groups will be tasked with designing more effective strategies and approaches. We expect to roll out the first recommendations this summer. We will keep you informed by communicating any new guidelines, processes, programs and supports to all staff.
- Attendance Management Working Group: To develop a new, individualized approach that involves the manager as the point person (not HR), with attendance management guidelines and transparent criteria.
- Manager Support Working Group: To develop new training, coaching, mentoring, supports and referrals for managers to be able to separately and more effectively help employees.
- Employee Health and Well-being Working Group: To develop more effective ways for employees to get the right support for their health and well-being by the right person, at the right time.
- Wellness Program Working Group: To develop a VCH wellness program, wellness promotion and preventive wellness strategies.
If you are interested in joining one of the working groups, please contact Eliza.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned as we continue to work together to develop better programs and processes to support your health and wellness. We welcome your questions and feedback.