Thriving Campus highlights stories about health and wellbeing from UBC staff members. This month, we feature the UBC Bookstore’s staff and management team as our Thriving Campus profile. A special thank you to Debbie Harvie, Managing Director of University Community Services, for her contributions to this article.
The next time you step into the UBC Bookstore, think beyond the textbooks and UBC-branded merchandise. The store’s staff and management team are among the most engaged and active members of the UBC community. In addition to supporting students in their academic pursuits and enhancing campus life and the UBC brand, the UBC Bookstore represents a thriving, diverse workforce where staff are encouraged to bring their whole selves to work each day. They are motivated to fully participate in the campus community and to balance their work and personal lives.
Inclusivity on Display
Each year, the Bookstore’s buyers and marketing team develop a calendar of in-store displays to highlight a variety of interests and celebrations, including Freedom to Read Week, Lunar New Year, Pride Week, Black History Month and Remembrance Day.
To complement campus life, the Bookstore partners with a number of UBC departments and services to host special events in the adjacent outdoor plaza. The weekly UBC Farm Pop-up Market (May to October), annual Summer Sizzler (June) annual Blueberry Festival (July), Meet Your Maker food sustainability series (September) and UBC Athletics & Recreation pep rallies are just some of the ways the Bookstore builds connections across UBC. As well, Bookstore staff participate in several campus committees, such as sustainability and textbook affordability.
For UBC students, the Bookstore provides opportunities for them to pursue their hobbies and passions through events and sales initiatives. For example, students can DJ an event, try modelling, take photography or gain experience in event management. The UBC Bookstore hires over 80 students each year to support the busy back to class selling season. The store also hires “work learn” students interested in pursuing a career in graphic design and art as an “agency of one”, which simulates what it would be like to work for a marketing agency, from brainstorming and pitching to conducting meetings and completing projects for Bookstore “clients”.
Wellbeing in Action
The management team at UBC Bookstore recognizes the importance of supporting staff in their health and wellbeing. It’s why they encourage and sponsor staff to participate in the annual UBC Staff & Faculty Sports Day, Storm the Wall, or UBC Library Spelling Bee.
“Our staff like to get active,” says Debbie Harvie, Managing Director of University Community Services, which includes the UBC Bookstore. “Our in-store merchandiser conducts a morning stretch session for the early morning crew. We host monthly games nights and yoga classes with our vendor partners, and at our annual staff BBQ, there’s bocce, soccer and Frisbee games.”
And then there’s the food. Healthy, delicious, ethnically-diverse treats abound at the Bookstore during birthday celebrations, potluck lunches or retirement parties. During the busy back-to-class periods, sharing a meal or some snacks has become a great way for Bookstore staff in different departments to spend time together and enjoy a break.
Beyond the physical, emotional and social wellbeing benefits, the Bookstore recognizes the value that learning, training and professional development can bring to a team.
“Learning is a big part of our workplace,” notes Harvie. “Our Human Resources team coordinates lunch and learn sessions on a wide range of topics, including how to use your professional development funds, preparing for an interview, PowerPoint skills and retirement planning. We also send staff to training sessions and buying shows – both local and in Canada and the United States – to keep everyone’s skills and knowledge current and to encourage staff to make industry connections.” The Bookstore also honours retirees by displaying the names and years of service of retired staff.
Harvie adds, “It’s important for people to be given opportunities to engage with the campus community and for individuals to take advantage of these opportunities. UBC is an amazing, diverse, engaging and physically beautiful place to work. Tuum Est – it is yours!”
About the UBC Bookstore
The UBC Bookstore operates three retail stores: two on the Vancouver campus and one on the Okanagan campus. The Bookstore’s selection includes a full range of course materials, general books, stationery and UBC spirit items including logoed giftware and clothing.
The Bookstore employs over 85 full-time staff and up to 100 additional part-time staff during peak selling periods at the beginning of the fall and winter terms. Staff members have expertise in a wide range of areas, including buying, accounting, merchandise processing, display and customer service. Bookstore staff are recognized as experts in the campus store industry and many have served as training facilitators, committee members and association presidents both in Canada and in the United States.
Photo credit: Debbie Harvie