Turning a negative into a positive
Re: Firefighters snub survey, June 1.
To me, the fact the firefighters elected not to complete the City of White Rock’s Workplace Environment Study is disappointing but hardly unexpected.
In itself, this is not a concern for the taxpayers.
What should be a concern to the taxpayers, though, is council’s rather passive acceptance of the report and its findings. A survey return rate of 47 per cent and a lukewarm summary that the feedback is “generally positive” is simply not acceptable nor is it an accurate summary of the results.
To put things in perspective, as a former city manager I would have expected a return rate of not less than 90 per cent and would have been very concerned if the overall satisfaction rating were any less than 85 percent.
The miserable return of 47 per cent can be explained by one of, or a combination of, three things:
First, more than half of the employees are apathetic and could not be bothered to complete the survey; second, more than half are so mad or discouraged, they chose not to do it; or third, the employees were so fearful of possible repercussions if they answered truthfully, they chose not to go there.
After reviewing the report for myself, I am totally dismayed at the results. Council’s muted response and choice to focus on the sidebar issue of the firefighters’ lack of participation leads me to conclude that either the councillors did not read the report, or read it and did not understand it. Had they actually read and understood the report, they should have asked a number of questions that were more meaningful.
For example, why did council not ask for an explanation to the following?
1. Why has the apparent rift between the city manager and the firefighters not been mended after nearly two years?
2. Why do only 27 per cent of the employees agree senior management communicates decisions in a timely manner?
3. Why do only 17 per cent of the employees feel senior management provides clear direction for the future?
4. Why do only 29 per cent of the employees say they have confidence in the senior leadership of the city?
5. Why would only 36 per cent of the employees recommend the city as a great place to work?
It is obvious there is a major disconnect in the city between senior management and the employees that is not confined to the fire service – it is pervasive. This situation transcends any possible union/ management rift.
The truly disturbing thing is that council is either blithely unaware of the situation, or is aware and for some reason chooses to ignore it.
At this stage, I am not sure which is worse.
Wayne Baldwin, White Rock