Some people work to live, others live to work. But what could be better than doing a job that you love for a cause you believe in? In this episode, host Peter Reynolds is joined by Noor Mufti, Director of People and Culture at Community Living Mississauga to discuss the organization's work and the employees who contribute to its success. Noor also explains his role in ensuring a stable and skilled workforce and creating an environment that allows for professional growth and advancement. He also addresses the agency's ability to meet the growing demand for programs and services for people who have intellectual disabilities, and the need for funding to support staffing and competitive wages.
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Peter: Welcome to Community Living Out Loud brought to you by Community Living Mississauga. I’m your host Peter Reynolds. On this podcast, we celebrate the lives of people who have an intellectual disability and the incredible work being done to advocate on behalf of them and their families. Through conversations with experts, advocates and people with lived experiences we hope to inspire and educate listeners on the importance of building strong, supportive communities. Let’s get loud [00:00:30].
Some people live to work, others work to live but what could be better than doing a job that you love for an organization that you believe in, helping people every day live their best lives. In today’s episode, we’re going to pull back the curtain on what it’s like to be an employee at [00:01:00] Community Living Mississauga. Who are these indicated individuals and what drives them. We’ll also learn about the culture of the organization, what they’re looking for in an employee and what opportunities exist for those looking for a meaningful career.
And joining me today is someone who I’m certain will make a meaningful contribution to this podcast and that’s Noor Mufti, Director of People and Culture at Community Living Mississauga. Noor, welcome to Community Living Out Loud [00:01:30].
Noor: Thanks for having me.
Peter: Noor, perhaps I could start by asking you to tell me a little bit about your journey at Community Living Mississauga and what does it mean to be Director of People and Culture.
Noor: Well great question. Thank you, Peter. So my journey with Community Living Mississauga started in February of this year. I am very honoured to be part of this great organization and I don’t take it for granted. I admire the professionalism and [00:02:00] hard work of all employees who are here for the right reason and take great pride in supporting people who have an intellectual disability.
As a new employee, I am still learning every day and very thankful for all the support I have received from everybody I work with. As the Director of People and Culture, I have a very clear mandate. A snapshot of that mandate would include having a stable workforce [00:02:30] consisting of talented employees who are skilled, trained, creative, motivated professionals and willing to challenge the status quo when it comes to people we support and the services they receive.
A work environment that ensures physical and psychological safety for all. A work environment that promotes accountability, sharing – shared responsibility and participation, learning and development, and a safe space [00:03:00] for innovative ideas. A workplace culture that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion and rewards behaviours that are consistent with our mission, vision and values.
Peter: Well perhaps we could talk a little bit about the employees themselves. And I know from my experience working with Community Living Mississauga that some people have been there for 30-plus years, so clearly something’s working.
Noor: Definitely, definitely [00:03:30]. At Community Living Mississauga we currently have about 525 employees, about 56 percent of them are full-time, the rest are part-time. About 80 percent of our employees are with us for more than two years, and 20 percent of them are here for more than 20 years. I believe that speaks volume about the commitment of our employees. Despite the recent pandemic, our employee retention rate has remained above average in the sector [00:04:00].
With respect to our workforce, our workforce is very diverse much like our community in Mississauga. While we celebrate diversity of our workforce, we also recognize our employees with great pride and gratitude for embodying our values and demonstrating [resiliency?] and for their unwavering commitment to the people we support. At Community Living Mississauga we have a union, OPSEU Local 251. We work together [00:04:30] with our union to ensure that we have a positive, inclusive and safe work environment for all of us.
Peter: It’s great to hear that the employees really in terms of diversity reflect the community that they’re serving.
Peter: We’ve spoken with other employees at Community Living Mississauga and really we know there’s so many different programs and supports offered and the demand for these programs and supports seems to grow every year [00:05:00]. Do you have enough employees currently to meet the growing need?
Noor: Short answer yes we do. However, just to kind of give you a little bit of more background. So it has always been a key focus for human resources that we have a steady talent pipeline that helps us bring in qualified and competent employees to the – talents to the agency. While we are confident that our targeted recruitment [00:05:30] strategies are effective, we also must ensure that we have the funding dollars from our ministry, which is the Ministry of Children, Community & Social Services, to support the growing needs of our services and staffing.
Therefore we work with our ministry counterpart to keep them informed about our need for more employees and the need for competitive wages for our employees. With that being said, I can confidently say that yes, we can ensure that we have enough [00:06:00] employees to meet the growing needs for our programs and services.
Peter: So I guess it’s about forecasting what you’re going to need in the coming years and making sure you’re ahead of the game.
Peter: Tell me a little bit about the recruitment process and how you go about finding the right people.
Noor: Primarily we use online job boards. We use our website and our social media platforms to promote [00:06:30] employment opportunities. We also promote our employee referral program internally and quite honestly we have had much success recently. We also participate in various community job fairs and university and college programs, college career fairs.
One particularly that I would like to highlight and that we are very proud of is our ongoing partnerships with our local colleges and universities. Over the years this relationship [00:07:00] turned into opportunities and partnerships and mutually benefitted all parties. For example, Community Living Mississauga has been the training ground for over 100 students per year for their internship or placements.
Many of these students started their career with us shortly after the completion of their placements. We also sit on the advisory board and actively advocating for the specific skills and competencies that are needed for our sector [00:07:30]. So our relationship evolved to partnership, which again works as a great source for recruitment.
Peter: Yes. And I know and we’ve spoken about some of the programs and the partnership with colleges in a previous episode. And the idea of course that people can start off as a volunteer as a student and that can potentially grow into a job at Community Living Mississauga [00:08:00].
Noor: Correct. I mean and that’s the way it has been and we have seen many students, as I mentioned over 100 students, you know, participating in that placement that we provided here and, you know, that relationship turned into an employment after. So which is again a mutual benefit that we offer, and we also receive from the colleges.
Peter: No, it’s very interesting. I know my son, who’s just started high school and he has his volunteer hours and I know in [00:08:30] grade 10 he’s very interested in, you know, coming and volunteering with organizations like Community Living Mississauga. But I think it’s a great opportunity for young people because they see a whole, you know, side of society that they might not be aware of, and it can really sort of inspire people to wanting to give back and help serve the community.
Noor: I think that’s an excellent point, Peter. Historically we haven’t [00:09:00] done that much of marketing and promotion, you know, to educate or create awareness within the younger population or members in the society. However, you know, now when those generations are coming to or joining the workforce, it has become evident that they are not aware of our sector that much.
So that’s why I think we need to look back and kind of think about what we could do at this point of time in order to [00:09:30], you know, respond to the future needs of our future employees. Or how can we encourage our younger generation to think about our sector by learning what we do, how we make difference in the lives of the people we support. And the meaningful takeaways that they can take, you know, from supporting people. I think that’s a very good point that you mentioned, that’s where we need to put a lot more work and we are [00:10:00] through the voluntarism, you know, in our agency.
I think that’s a great opportunity for younger people to come in and work and get experience. Again, not necessarily they will choose a career within our sector but they will be somewhere where they will make major policy decisions which might impact our programs, our services, our – you know, the job we do and the people we support [00:10:30]. And that’s when we need people who understand us, particularly our sector, the needs of the people we support so that they can make an informed decision in the future.
Peter: Absolutely, absolutely. Not only do they potentially find a career within your sector but even if they don’t then in the future if there, you know, needs to be donations or voluntarism [00:11:00] or anything like that, they are aware of it and they have been educated. So it makes total sense. Noor, what are some of the challenges that you’ve experienced with recruitment?
Noor: Well, as you know, it has been a rough few years and our sector faced with significant labour shortages, and we are no exception to it. During the pandemic, we too had suffered some losses of employees for a valid reason of course. Over the past few years the labour market [00:11:30] landscape has changed tremendously, as you may be aware. We have seen so many changes and trends affecting the recruitment strategy and overall the labour market.
To name a few of the challenges, you know, maybe as you have heard; the great resignation era, expectations and skillsets of hourly talents, shifts in lifestyles of jobseekers, rising cost of living, remote work [00:12:00], increase in mental health issues, emergence of new technology, and declining enrollment in colleges and universities for the social services programs. So these are the challenges sort of affected the recruitment, you know, initiatives very negatively to a certain extent.
Throughout out this period of uncertainty, we carefully monitored various trends in the labour market and changing behaviours and expectations of the jobseeker pool [00:12:30]. So we kept adjusting the recruitment strategy accordingly. I’m pleased to share that our current employee complement is almost at 98 percent. So we did a really good job, you know, sort of turning back to the, you know, pre-COVID status.
Peter: Well I guess the million-dollar question, or maybe not a million dollars, is why would people want to come and work for Community Living Mississauga [00:13:00]?
Noor: Well there is lots of good reason, but I’m going to highlight a few of them for you. Hopefully, you know, it makes sense. First of all, if you are a person who wants to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the people who have an intellectual disability, Community Living Mississauga is the right place for you to start your career. It’s a great cause that brings us all together and serves our purposes of being and belonging [00:13:30] to Community Living Mississauga.
Secondly, our unique culture that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion and driven by our values which are respect, caring and integrity. If your personal values align with our values, again Community Living Mississauga is the right place for you. At Community Living Mississauga we are committed to enhancing the competency of every employee. We offer numerous training and professional development opportunities that will enhance your knowledge [00:14:00] and skills.
In addition, being a large organization we offer opportunities to support people with all ages, background and support needs in various capacity. So if you are a person who wants to grow personally and professionally, again Community Living Mississauga is the right place for you. When it comes to pay and benefits, we offer competitive salary and benefits. And finally, we are [00:14:30] committed to enhancing our employee experience with us. We offer more than a job; we offer a career that will help you to explore your full potential.
Peter: I love hearing that. So for those people listening, you know, it’s not just about going and here’s your role and if you want a different role, if you want to move up you have to move on. This is something where you can grow within the organization?
Noor: That’s correct. As I said [00:15:00], like being a large organization we have lots of opportunity within and, you know, you will have the option to apply for various available position – position as they become available. So, you know, oftentimes there is some requirements and I’m sure, you know, this is nothing that will be a barrier, rather it’s an opportunity for you to learn and grow. So yes, you will have the opportunity to kind of move around, you know, expand your scope of [00:15:30], you know, experience as well.
Peter: Fantastic. So for those people watching or listening and are interested in a career at Community Living Mississauga where do they go, what’s the next step?
Noor: Well if you are interested in an opportunity with Community Living – employment opportunity with Community Living Mississauga, your starting point would be go to our website and our social media platforms to learn more about, you know, who we are, what we do [00:16:00] and the employment opportunities that are currently available. And then if you know of somebody who might be interested in the sector, you can also please feel free to refer them or connect them with us, we’ll be more than happy to answer any question.
Peter: Well we’ll be sure to include that link in the description, Noor. It’s been a fantastic conversation and I think it’s clear Community Living Mississauga [00:16:30] isn’t just a job. It’s a place where you can make a profound impact on the community regardless of your role. Thank you so much for taking the time to help us understand it.
Noor: Thank you. Thanks for having me as well.
Peter: And thank you of course to our audience, as always we appreciate your support. And whether you’re watching this on YouTube or listening wherever you get your favourite podcast, be sure to subscribe and leave a review, we want to hear what you think. So for Noor [00:17:00], and everyone here at Community Living Mississauga, I’m Peter Reynolds. You’ve been listening to Community Living Out Loud and until next time stay loud.
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