Sara Christie, Workplace Experience team lead, is often behind the scenes, focusing on ways to keep staff engaged, encouraged and energized so that they can bring their best selves to work each day. For this reason, she was honoured with the 2021 PHSA+ Workplace Culture Award.
In 2019, the Workplace Experience team was created with the intention to foster a culture of value and recognition. In Sara's opinion, “People matter most, and our staff deserve to be valued. We spend way too much time at work to be unhappy and that is why I find this work so important."
Making connection possible through difficult times
During this past year, Sara and her team have gone above and beyond to keep staff connected and lifted up. With a bit of creativity and a lot of dedication, they managed to deliver over 43,000 recognition touchpoints throughout the pandemic, including:
- 6,300+ “You Rock" packages to over 95 locations across BC
- 6,800+ food deliveries to over 70 sites
- 2,100+ Long Service awards for 2019 (recognized in 2020)
- 20,000 custom hand lotions delivered to 200+ locations
With over 43,000 touchpoints, there was a lot of assembly required. On occasion, Sara would get a little extra help from her son!
"Sara Christie is truly a healthcare hero and has a special gift of leading with excellence and empowering all who she crosses paths with," says Carly Jokic, director, Workplace Experience and interim director, Talent Acquisition. “Knowing how COVID-19 was affecting PHSA employees, Sara worked tirelessly, with her small and mighty Workplace Experience team, to bring a little sunshine into everyone's lives. Coordinating with donors and vendors, thousands of recognition packages were created and delivered to PHSA employees throughout the province, as a reminder of their value."
Sara says she joined PHSA “by accident" in 2007. After finishing an English literature degree at University of British Columbia, she became a volunteer in Uganda. Shortly after arriving, she tripped and broke her ankle, which required her to return to Canada to receive care. The accident was devastating and drastically changed her plans, but it also shaped the path she is now thriving on today.
During Sara's recovery, Judy Clark, former director of Talent Acquisition and now executive director HR Systems Transformation, reached out to Sara to offer her a temporary role at PHSA. Though uncertain at first, Sara was eventually convinced to take the job. Since then, Sara has been hooked to the work and is inspired by the incredible people around her who support patients and families day in and day out.
For Sara, the most rewarding part of her job happens when she is doing it well. “I used to volunteer as a sound technician at a theatre and if I was doing my part, the people on stage were shining. The same goes for my role at PHSA. Even though I am a few layers removed from direct care, it feels purposeful if I can lift up those who are," she says.
In her current role, Sara connects with people in every pocket of the organization. She has been on ride-alongs with BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), in the operating room at BC Children's, in the laboratory at BC Cancer and in the back of the Supply Chain warehouse. As a part of her job, she gets to meet incredible people who are doing amazing and important work. “I can't be those people but it's my privilege to support them," Sara says.
“Sara puts her 'all' into employee recognition programs that help create a positive workplace experience for everyone," says Maile Conwi, communications manager, content services. “You only have to spend a day with Sara to see how much she truly cares about her work and the people across PHSA—and I've been lucky to see the impact she's made over the past two years. The Workplace Culture Award couldn't go to a more deserving person!"
“With limited resources—both people and budgetary—Sara is always creative in her approach. She thinks holistically and inclusively. She brings positivity, energy and warmth to everything she does, constantly considering and ensuring authentic and meaningful touchpoints. She goes beyond the expectations of her role to pursue her team's ongoing mission to create a healthy and engaged workforce—no matter what the obstacles are," says Carly.
When Sara found out she had received the PHSA+ Workplace Culture Award, she was both overwhelmed and surprised. She says, “The fact that an award like this exists, delights me. The idea that I am the one receiving it is humbling."
The Workplace Culture Award is intended to highlight individuals who foster a positive, healthy and engaged workplace. Sara believes it all starts with listening, respect and inclusion. “We are all responsible for the culture at PHSA and so, we all need to be a part of forming it," Sara explains, “Because culture is both visible and invisible, it is important that people can share their experiences. That is where listening, respect and inclusion come in."
Driven by relationships
People are driven by different things, but for Sara it is relationships. She loves the one-on-one interactions, as well as the magic that happens around the water cooler. In the workplace, it can be easy to fall in into siloes and COVID-19 has exacerbated that effect. However, people like Sara, and the rest of her Workplace Experience team, help PHSA staff remember that their efforts are a part of a bigger picture and everyone plays a valuable role.
The PHSA+ Awards are part of an internal recognition program that celebrates teams and individuals who bring our PHSA values to life in the workplace. They go above and beyond to serve patients and families across B.C. Read about the other PHSA+ award recipients for 2021.