Wednesday, 25 Nov 2020

More than half of Halifax’s municipal employees believe their workplace is emotionally unhealthy: survey

The first employee survey carried out by the Halifax Regional Municipality in nearly a decade has found that more than half of Halifax’s municipal employees believe their workplace is emotionally unhealthy and that the municipality is not interested in their well being.

The survey — the first since 2009 — was conducted on behalf of the municipality by Corporate Research Associates (CRA). In total, 2,167 of the 3,533 permanent part-time and full-time employees participated in the survey.

The results were released on Wednesday evening through a tweet posted on the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM)’s official Twitter account and come during a time that the municipality is under more scrutiny for its workplace culture.

Within the past year, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency have offered an official apology for systemic gender discrimination, workers have protested in front of city hall against what they say is a lack of diversity as well as discriminatory hiring practices and a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission found widespread racial discrimination had resulted in a “poisoned work environment” at a Halifax Transit garage.

The results of the survey will likely amplify those concerns.

The municipality’s chief administrative officer (CAO) appears to address the results in a statement accompanying the survey results.

“This feedback shows us where we are doing well – and where we can and must do better – to promote better experiences for all employees,” said Jacques Dubé.

“I can assure you the senior leadership team and I are committed and ready to make the most of this opportunity.”

Majority of responses fall below results of other organizations

CRA has provided the HRM with a metric to use as a baseline for future surveys. It compared results on each of the 64 questions in the survey to its database of results from employees of other organizations they’ve previously surveyed across Atlantic Canada.

“With the results observed this year at HRM, a majority of statements fall below the CRA database value,” the report reads.

“The only statement that HRM scores above CRA’s normative database is my employment is secure at HRM.”

The survey found that 51 per cent of municipal employees disagreed that health and wellness is a priority at HRM, 52 per cent disagreed that they have an emotionally healthy work environment and 52 per cent disagreed that the municipality is interested in the well being of its employees.

“Given that the statement HRM is interested in the well-being of its employees is a key driver of employee engagement, this serves to identify a key area of focus for the Municipality,” the report reads.

Despite the highly critical results of the survey, the HRM has published a “quick-reference infographic” that highlights a B overall grade on a report card.

The report card is not included in the CRA report.

Dubé writes in his statement that over the next few weeks, managers will begin reviewing the survey results with action plans being prepared in the next three to five months.

“Where possible, some action items will be initiated in the coming days and weeks, while others will require more significant planning and execution,” he wrote.

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