Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: Building Career Resiliency for Organizational Success: UBC HR’s Career Navigation and Transition Service
Year Submitted 2018
Person(s) Responsible for the Idea
Name / Nom Title / Titre
Pooja Khandelwal Career Navigation and Transition Consultant
Linda Fischer Director, Human Resources- Staff Relations Academic Portfolio
Name of Institution The University of British Columbia
Office Address TEF III Building
600 – 6190 Agronomy Road
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T1Z3
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Telephone: 6048271471
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.
Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Alex Bayne
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Managing Director- Workplace Learning and Engagement
Office Address TEF III Building
600 – 6190 Agronomy Road
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T1Z3
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Telephone: 604-822-1839
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.

As a world-class university striving for academic excellence, the University of British Columbia (UBC) is continually discovering new ways of teaching, researching, learning, and working. Consequently, business needs change and employee roles are impacted. UBC Human Resources (HR) faces the challenge of retention and engagement during change, and building people’s capacity to successfully respond to these changes in business needs is critical for the organization’s success. In 2012, HR took the unprecedented initiative of creating a unique in-house Career Navigation and Transition service.

This service, led by a Career Navigation & Transition Consultant, provides one-on-one coaching to those terminated not-for-cause to secure alternate employment during the notice period7 and more generally, career coaching to those employees interested in enhancing their careers.

This service enables UBC to:

  • Build trust by demonstrating its commitment to its people beyond what was mandated;
  • Build transparency by addressing the stigma around transitions;
  • Build capacity within the workforce to respond to the changes in business needs; and
  • Build employee loyalty and retain institutional knowledge by supporting staff to secure alternate roles back at the institution, if they so desired.

Over the past five years, this in-house service has seen 40 times greater success than the outsourced career service providers9. Initially the service was designed to support the transition of Management & Professional (M&P) 2 staff whose roles were ending due to changing business needs.  This service was expanded in 2014 to provide blended, group and one-on-one coaching to current employees wanting to enhance their careers. This expanded service shifts the focus from a tactical job-search function of a typical career service to a broader workplace culture of employability, self-efficacy and change resilience.

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.

UBC’s Career Navigation and Transition service is highly transferable and versatile. The service is applicable across universities, evidenced by its success in the context of a large, complex university administrative structure (i.e. across diverse job classifications, career categories1 and business units) regardless of the employee’s stage of employment8 and with the ongoing resourcing of one career navigation consultant. Initially this service was designed to support the transition of Management & Professional (M&P)2 staff whose roles were ending due to changing business needs. Within two years, UBC HR expanded the service, from only M&P employees in transition to all UBC staff. There are four aspects of the program that make it easily transferable and can be applied to other institutions:

  1. Maintaining independence and confidentiality: The service is optional and by voluntarily subscribing to this service, employees commit to taking responsibility and leading their careers. Confidentiality for employees is crucial for effective delivery of the service.
  2. Grounding the service in a coaching technique: Because of its coaching approach, the Career Navigation and Transition service shifted focus from a tactical job-search function to a strengths-based one, building long-term career resiliency. The coaching approach renders the work to be personalized in a safe environment, while also building employee trust.
  3. Adopting a combination service delivery model: An effective way of facilitating this people-centered service across institutions of varying sizes is by adopting a combination of one-on-one coaching and a blended one-on-one/group model, in order to reach as many people as possible with the limited human resources available. In 2015, we began partnering with the Health & Wellbeing unit in HR, offering a series of workshops titled, Building Career Resilience in Change3. This had a dual outcome: utilizing limited resources available for greater outreach and connecting the work with individual wellbeing. Based on the scale and resources available to a particular organization, the approach has the potential to be flexible.
  4. Engaging leaders as partners: The service is sustainable and versatile when managers/supervisors across the organization are engaged as strategic partners. We are designing a mentor-coaching model to support leaders to transparently approach the topic of change with their employees in a positive way, building trust and loyalty, and offering support to secure alternate roles.
Quality Impact

The service was initially designed to support a specific segment of staff adversely impacted when their roles were ending due to an organizational change. As such, the expected qualitative outcome was initially to demonstrate HR’s commitment to UBC employees and build good faith among employees at a particularly challenging time. The outcome was met in the first year and exceeded expectations in subsequent years:

  • Our client testimonials5 speak to a boost in their wellbeing, for example, feeling more hopeful during the period of low morale in their employment.
  • In qualitative terms, half of those rehired during their notice period7 have found work back at UBC, enabling UBC to successfully harness its institutional knowledge.
  • Within the transition realm, HR advisors have experienced instances where employees themselves request access to this service instead of being sent reminders to access it.
  • Employees on notice have often mentioned that their colleagues had referred them to access our service because they recognized the effectiveness and value of it.
  • Within the navigation realm (i.e. career development for current employees), more than 50% are referred by their colleagues who have already used this service.
  • Word of mouth is the greatest testimony of qualitative impact; as word spread about the service, managers of business units that are undergoing significant change have begun requesting team coaching for their employees and enquiring how they, as managers, could provide support. This has led to the next stage of our service expansion and facilitated mentor coaching for leaders.
Productivity Impact

The quantitative impact of UBC’s Career Navigation and Transition service has been tracked since its inception in the fall of 2012:

  • Since the start of the service, 67.6% of employees who receive notice7 have engaged with this in-house service, compared to 40% engagement with the outplacement services. In terms of productivity, this service has reduced the cost of terminations both in terms of dollar amounts for salary during notice period, and reduced onboarding requirements. 
  • Previously, outplacement services used a conventional counselling, program-based approach, yielding a 0.2% success rate in rehiring staff-in-transition during their notice. Today our service has yielded a 43.7% success rate for staff during the same period, with 23% of them securing roles back at UBC.
  • Comparing our engagement surveys from 2011 and 2014, 3% of the workforce grew in confidence in terms of achieving their career objectives at UBC, and 2% experienced an increase in personal fulfillment at work. This change coincided with the implementation of the service.
  • In terms of resource commitment, one career transition consultant recovers 22 people per year from the pool of terminees, which translates into retention of knowledge, skills and budget savings.



Offering career services to students and staff is a familiar initiative at many Canadian post-secondary institutions, however UBC’s investment in its staff is significant. This service is one of a kind among higher education institutions for its:

  1. Ability to influence employees’ perspectives and enhance their resiliency to change: The focus on the long-term employability of an individual rather than seeking immediate employment in the face of a singular event is UBC’s approach to creating lifelong learners with job growth viewed as a journey, not a destination4. We have heard from clients5 that this service has not only boosted employee wellbeing at a time of change, but also fostered employee trust in the organization itself, which is critical in the context of an ever-evolving higher education institution striving for global excellence.
  2. Combination service delivery model: To address the expanding size of the potential client base, the success of the one-on-one service was innovated and transplanted to a group service model. This required no additional resources yet expanded its reach without compromising the quality of service offered. In this group model for current employees, up to 30 participants can work together at one time, adding value through group dynamics as well as impacting more employees per time invested by the consultant. This combination offers a variety of options to engage with the service without any additional resourcing.
  3. Connection with the mission of the university: The service’s philosophy6 and practice are both aligned to UBC’s motto. The potential to engage with one’s own career aspirations (“it is up to you”) and the organization’s vision (“the university is yours”) empowers employees to successfully navigate their careers at UBC. The service is one of the key operational initiatives in practice across our community and has led to the extraordinary result of one career navigation consultant having successfully partnered with over 600 employees during the past five years.
Supporting Documents Terms-of-Reference-UBC-HR-CAUBO-2018-Submission.pdf