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Recharge: New practices to support staff and faculty wellbeing

Category:To: All employees
June 30, 2020

I continue to be grateful for the dedication and commitment that our faculty and staff have shown in response to COVID-19 so that Ryerson can continue to support our students and achieve its goals in scholarly, research and creative activity. 

While the abrupt shift to working remotely has brought some benefits, such as avoiding the rush hour commute, or perhaps having a quieter commute for those still providing essential services on campus, it has also created challenges. Many of you are caring for dependents and managing other personal obligations. The boundaries of work and home life have become blurred or erased. We also know that while the virus itself does not discriminate, the pandemic has exacerbated existing systemic inequalities for equity-seeking groups that are a part of Ryerson's workforce. According to an Angus Reid survey (external link, opens in new window) , over half of Canadians say their mental health has been impacted by COVID-19. 

It is critical that we each take care of ourselves and our loved ones. This must be our first priority.  

New university-wide practices to support wellbeing

This is why members of the senior executive group and I are rolling out a series of new practices to support employees in caring for themselves and others, effective immediately. 

I know that implementing these changes may be easier said than done. While it may be challenging at times, I’m committed to us working together to take steps to find better balance between work and home. In fact, it’s essential to our wellbeing that we do.

Meetings conclude by 6 p.m. 

As the physical divide between work and home has disappeared, it’s easy to extend work days into evenings and weekends. By setting boundaries for when meetings are held, we can help create boundaries that support mental wellbeing.

Book meetings in 50 minute increments or less

Keeping meetings to a shortened time allows us to have built-in breaks in our calendars.

No evening or weekend emails unless urgent 

When people receive emails during these times, it creates pressure to respond immediately to show presence and attentiveness. Avoid sending emails after 7 p.m. unless it is an urgent matter. If you are using Gmail, consider using the schedule send option for non-urgent emails sent in the evenings or on weekends.

Meeting-free-Fridays for the remainder of the summer

I know that there is much work to be done. To help with this, we are implementing no meeting Fridays for the remainder of the summer. This will allow for focused time to accomplish tasks, move projects forward and end your week well. Of course some urgent meetings will still need to take place on Fridays, but regular, lower priority meetings should be scheduled Monday to Thursday.

Extra vacation day to recognize your efforts

Again, I want to thank our entire community for your work over the past few months and in recognition of your efforts I am announcing an extra vacation day for all employees to be taken before September 4.

To use this day, follow the standard process to submit vacation time in eHR and select “Ryerson Recharge” as the absence name. It will be available in the system after July 1.

To help make these changes possible, leaders need to model these new behaviours. I ask that our leaders prioritize work so that all employees are empowered to align their own work accordingly.

In the coming weeks, Human Resources will provide additional resources to help you implement these strategies and more. The University will also be checking in to get feedback on how these new norms are working and any additional ways to support faculty and staff in managing multiple responsibilities. 

I hope that by implementing these new norms and this additional vacation day, you are able to recharge this summer. We will continue to look at ways we can support you as we work towards the Fall semester.


Mohamed Lachemi
President and Vice-Chancellor