The Human Resources (HR) Department experienced another busy year of continued supports to our employees, management team and UNITI partner Semiahmoo House Society (SHS).
In 2018 we continued to assist in the implementation of the organizational structure changes that will keep Semiahmoo House Society at the forefront of supporting people to be fully included in their communities.
Many employee role descriptions were finalized based on the Accountability Management System and templates for Direct Report Meetings were rolled out and are in use by managers and supervisors. A new template to collect feedback for performance appraisals based on the accountabilities in the role descriptions was trialed with good reviews. We continue to fine tune our current role descriptions and are developing new ones to fit the roles needed as we continue to redesign our services.
Some of the structure changes have created supervision roles which required areas of training. One such training that HR provided was about SHS’s Employee Management System (EMS) known as ComVida. EMS is a “full service” HR software that provides the UNITI organizations with an HR data base, Scheduling System and Payroll. Some introductory classes were held for those who are required to use the HR and Scheduling system for their programs.
A momentous and tough change in the HR department came when our very long term employee who performed the payroll function, Barbara Ann Smith, announced her upcoming retirement. Thus began the task of trying to fill her shoes! The payroll position is responsible for ensuring pay for approximately 230 employees for the three agencies. The role also administers the health and welfare program by ensuring all eligible employees are set up for benefits. After a few months of recruiting I’m pleased to announce and welcome our new team member, Susie Holden, who began her career here in January, 2019. Susie is doing a great job rising to the challenge of keeping our system updated and everyone paid!
A month later we wished Barbara Ann a fond farewell with a High Tea celebration for all her years with us. We hear she is enjoying her well-deserved less stressful life and spending time with her new grandson.
With the changes to the Federal Summer grant program we were pleasantly surprised to have been awarded a grant for 16 summer students in 2018 for 8 weeks. Many of our programs and administration were lucky to have some extra hands for the summer. We are fortunate again to have just been notified that we are granted with 17 summer positions for the 2019 summer. Thus begins our work to recruit for those positions.
The Society had 16 full time and part time employees leave during 2018, which is approximately a 9.75% turnover rate. The figure is the same as last year however still lower than industry average which is 12.9%. In 2018 there were 29 casual employees who left our employ which is double the amount as the previous year, however, the norm for all our years prior. Recruitment is constantly on the go as we attempt to maintain a suitable level of casual employees. Michelle Tibbits, our Talent Acquisition Specialist does a wonderful job of screening for new staff. She is a great ambassador for the organization. She is very talented at relaying clearly what we do and how to determine if someone is a good match for our needs.
There were two (2) grievances filed by the union during 2018. These grievances have both been resolved. We began 2019 with zero outstanding grievances and have maintained zero grievances for the first quarter. The employer’s bargaining agent CSSEA (Community Social Services Employer’s Association) and CSSBA (Community Social Services Bargaining Agent) were successful in negotiating a 3 year term (April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2022) Collective Agreement that was ratified. This agreement made great strides in addressing the low wages in the sector. Over the course of the 3 years, wages for front line Community Support Workers are expected to increase by up to 18%. This significant increase is a result of both the employers’ group and unions agreeing to a Low Wage Redress that will bring community social service workers closer in compensation to employees doing the very same work in the health and education sectors.
Another big project we have had to work on is the set up in our payroll system for the tracking of our employees by a site location. This is due to the new provincial Employer’s Health Tax (EHT) that came into effect in 2019. The employer will need to pay tax to the provincial government for the health tax based on its payroll amounts. As a not-for-profit we can receive a reduced amount if our payroll is under certain threshold and this is based on where an employee’s main work location occurs. We have tied employee location to pay roll and this will allow us to pay the correct amount of EHT in the upcoming years.
In 2019, we are also reviewing HR policies and preparing other documents for re-accreditation. Many thanks as always to Michelle Tibbits, Talent Acquisition Specialist; Susie Holden, HR Assistant; and Dorothy Gurney, Volunteer Coordinator. Our team looks forward to another year of providing the best employee and volunteer systems for the Society.
Stephanie Green, Director of Human Resources
UNITI is the partnership of three affiliated non-profit organizations that have existed for decades. Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. Peninsula Estates Housing Society provides affordable and inclusive rental housing that reflects the diversity of our community. The Semiahmoo Foundation assures that UNITI has the recognition, relationships and resources to support an inclusive community.