EMPLOYER OF CHOICE?
If there’s one employer in the city that should set the bar for a workplace, it should be the City of Edmonton. Working in local government offers stability, attractive pay and employee benefits and even gives the opportunity to make a difference in the community. Indeed, the city often boasts about being a great place to work.
It’s discouraging to learn that despite all of that, many past and current city workers describe a flawed employee-complaints system that leads to pockets of toxic work culture.
Filing a workplace complaint often doesn’t solve the issue, but makes it worse for the employee. Currently, the system involves three online forms: one for the complainant, one for witnesses and another for the respondent — who has the right to see what has been said and who said it.
It’s a practice that may force the employee to work under that boss — who now knows of the complaint — for months while the investigation plays out. To call it an awkward situation understates the resulting bullying and discrimination that’s been reported.
One woman described meetings where it felt like managers were looking for ways to discipline her. Another fed ideas to a male co-worker to present because they were constantly shot down when coming from her. She eventually quit. Another employee is off work on stress leave after an angry supervisor slammed his fist close to the worker’s face and used a slur and obscene gesture.
It’s telling that other employees say they suffer in silence or seek other routes to complain rather than trusting the current process. How are workers supposed to file a grievance when they don’t have faith in the process?
It’s also clear from the results of an employee engagement survey and the numbers of workers who have come forward to Postmedia, Coun. Tony Caterina and civic unions to air their concerns, that the current system for workplace complaints is broken.
Credit the city for acting to overhaul the process. Under a new system to be outlined to council next week, complaints will go directly to the city manager, who will review and take immediate action or send the file to a thirdparty investigator. The completed investigation will be stripped of names, then go to a panel for review and recommendations.
Let’s hope councillors also heed the results of the city auditor’s report on workplace culture expected on Thursday.
As taxpayers, it doesn’t serve the public well when city employees are too stressed to do their jobs or quit altogether because they’re being bullied for lodging a complaint.