Posted June 4, 2013
When the city asked its employees about their personal job satisfaction, a committee of councillors learned the majority of city staff, in three departments, is unhappy about their job and its prospects.
The city uses the phrase “employment engagement” (EE) as the measure of job satisfaction. Translated for public consumption the definition includes such measures as loyalty and a willingness to continue working for the city.
Of the employees in the three departments participating in the survey, 77 per cent responded.
The negative issues raised by employees were lack of recognition, issues with senior management and management of poor performance.
In the Public Works and Guelph Transit departments, the EE standard delivered a woeful 27 per cent in public works and 33 per cent in Transit workers. This is a strange outcome given that most of the workers in those areas are unionized with almost bulletproof job security in terms of pay, working conditions and benefits.
Perhaps public works general manager, Rod Keller, should examine the absentee records of employees in his department, to better understand the poor job satisfaction results being the lowest among all city staff.
The Mayor said the attendance record for Public Works’ employees last year was 99.6 per cent, yet job satisfaction was only 27 per cent. Her explanation was the employees in that area are dedicated to serving the public but not committed to the organization.
It is difficult to believe that any organization claiming a 99.6 per cent employee attendance record exists, public or private. That figure is fudged. The score claimed by the Mayor means that no employee was sick in 2012; none were off work due to injury, abuse of alcohol or other drugs; none were off work for family problems; none worked as union stewards or executives during the workday.
The bottom line is attendance means employees report for work on time and are able to carry out their responsibilities. The only exceptions are vacation and statutory holidays, and minor contract terms allowing members to work on union business.
It would be interesting to know the degree of alcohol and drug abuse exists within the city staff. This can be a major problem in loss of performance and absenteeism. It exists in every organization and must be dealt with counseling and treatment.
What council should do is ask more questions about how attendance is measured across all departments. All employees should be treated equally regardless of whether they are organized or not.
Most of this revelation came from department heads and not the human resources department, where employment records are kept and monitored.
But to claim that Mr. Keller’s Public Works department had a 99.6 per cent attendance record is an insult to taxpayers’ intelligence.
It also reflects the exodus of employees, some in top management positions, in the past six and a half years of the Farbridge-dominated administration.
This is a major problem that will take thorough examination and planning to stabilize what has obviously become a dysfunctional city staff.
This means that staff management policies and poor record keeping adversely affect productivity and performance.
Taxpayers deserve better.