Having lived in Hong Kong for over ten years while growing up, I experienced intense workplace pressure and even got accustomed to the kind of work environment in which people devote a lot of time to work, ignoring other aspects of life. In Hong Kong, employers seldom consider employees’ health and family obligations when assigning work hours.
As a result, I consider myself to be fortunate to begin my co-op experience at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), a place where employees’ health and personal well being are valued just as much as work.
Flexible Work Schedule
On the first day of my work, I was amazed to see how much autonomy and flexibility the RCMP gives to its employees. In terms of designing a work schedule, employees can decide, within a reasonable timeframe, their own working hours. This kind of a flexible work schedule arrangement allows employees to take both families and work into consideration when managing their time. For example, if someone needs to take care of their children after work, they can come into work early and leave accordingly (for instance, from 7 am to 3 pm). For people who have early morning obligations, can come into work later.
Facilities and Activities
The RCMP also stresses on employees’ physical health. In the main headquarters, the RCMP staff provides a great variety of health facilities and classes such as access to a gym and weight room, and Zumba classes to help us remain healthy while having fun. As long as we effectively manage our work, we are free to join any of the activities and facilities provided by the RCMP during work hours.
During my eight months of the co-op, I was a part of a number of events organized by the RCMP to promote employees’ health and recognize efforts made by its employees. I am going to share my experience with the two that I enjoyed the most.
In order to raise awareness of mental health, the RCMP organized a “Mental Health Week”. where employees could participate in a number of activities such as yoga, meditation, sports, etc. Due to my supervisor’s encouragement, I signed up for a beginners’ yoga class with my co-worker. Since the class was meant for beginners, it involved simple exercises meant for relaxation – which I enjoyed quite a bit. The yoga instructor emphasized that all participants should stay focused and maintain their balance throughout every move. After the class, I felt really relaxed and calm. I would love to take a similar class again if given a chance!
During the second event, titled “Public Service Celebration”, I attended an interesting talk about ‘collaboration’. In the afternoon, they held a barbeque lunch for us, during which they also arranged a guide dog visit, a band performance, and a photo booth! It was a really exciting day because I got a chance to get involved in the activities with my co-workers and form valuable friendships in the process. People always say “Work Hard, Play Harder”, but I could truly experience what it means on that day. I realized that it is possible to give your 100% at work, and yet have a social life at the same time.
Last piece of advice!
It is great to participate in different activities organized by the company you are working for. However, it is also important to ask for your supervisor’s permission and let them know about your schedule beforehand. When flexibility and autonomy are given to us, communication is an essential way to maintain trust between ourselves and our employers. Keeping your supervisor updated allows for more trust. Let’s have fun but stay professional at the same time!