A 2017 survey of the 7,000-odd staffers at the City of Hamilton shows some improvement from a similar survey conducted in 2013. In the earlier report less than half of respondents agreed with statements such as: “I know that concerns reported under the Code of Conduct are handled appropriately,” or “ can report misconduct without fear of retaliation.” In the 2013 survey fully a quarter of respondents reported they felt pressure to compromise their ethics.

While the 2017 survey, conducted by Metrics@work did not pose its questions in the same format as the earlier survey, the survey showed generally high levels of satisfaction—81 percent indicating they were proud of their department and its work. 79 percent said they would recommend the city as an employer. 73 percent thought the City upheld the code of conduct for ethics and integrity.

Despite the overall positive responses there were, as the report’s authors noted; “pockets of lower results,” which “enables staff to take the appropriate corrective actions.” Such areas included “team morale” where less than half had a positive view. Only 46 percent felt support from their division leaders. Lower scores were also given in areas like managing change, opportunities for career advancement and personal recognition.

The three weakest areas included “adequate staffing and attendance”—an apparent reference to the city’s chronic absenteeism problems. Another problem area was “department leadership approachability,” something that was also reflected in a damning report on the operation of the Ontario Works department. There workers complained about supervisors who were distant and unsupportive leaving workers to sort through their workplace challenges on their own.

The weakest area of all fell under the heading, “managing poor work performance”—the effectiveness of management in ensuring the work of the team is not dragged down by malingerers. The most recent case in point was the public works scandal where 21 workers were originally fired in 2013 for goofing off on the job but most were eventually reinstated after an arbitrator said “the city’s laxity fostered a culture of low expectations,” The employees “understood that they did not have to do much in order to satisfy their supervisors and managers.” One of the reinstated workers thumbed his nose at the city in a social media post, thanking the city for providing him with a two year paid vacation.

Staff have committed to developing an action plan to implement to report recommendations.

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

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