More rigorous planning for staff engagement, improving programs based on staff feedback or best practices, and bringing nation-leading programs to local worksites are the focus of a new workforce initiative being introduced by the City of Edmonton.
“We want our staff to be trained, productive and happy on their first day, their last day, and every day in between,” said City Manager Linda Cochrane as she introduced the
This is How We Work
initiative to the City’s 14,000-member workforce.
“Our teams include accountants, bridge workers, cartographers, DATS dispatchers … vehicle technicians, web writers, yard leaders, and zoo attendants working in 73 different lines of business,” Cochrane continued. “Our approaches need to reflect the diversity of workplaces and the individual people in them.” She noted that the City faces the same social and workforce issues as other large employers, including ensuring diversity, identifying mental health issues and providing supports to those in need, eliminating harassment and discrimination, and managing change.
Recent steps include creating an Employee Services department to focus on workforce development, strengthen supports for dealing with workplace conflict and inappropriate behaviour, and improve methods for dealing with allegations of harassment or discrimination.
Upcoming initiatives include a workplace mental health program called “The Working Mind,” and services to rebuild team relationships after a serious incident. A series of staff town hall meetings will provide employees the opportunity to flag the issues that mean most to them, while new plans for employee engagement will be developed in each of the City’s 35 branches.
The City’s biennial survey is one example of its efforts to listen to employees. Recent results show that City employees feel positively about engagement (66.6%), culture (67.5%), workplace (67.8%), and their relationship with their supervisor (73.4%). “These results are generally consistent with previous years’, and confirm that, for most of us, the City is a great place to do important work for the community and to build a career,” said Cochrane. The results also show that some employees are reporting discrimination or harassment at work, both from colleagues and from the public. “When one of us is hurting, there is still work to do in making our workplaces respectful,” said Cochrane.