Hamilton’s city manager says municipal workers face too much harassment

The results of the 2017 Our People Survey of municipal employees has been presented to city politicians. File / 900 CHML

A 2017 survey of City of Hamilton employees shows high overall levels of job satisfaction, but it also reveals troubling levels of harassment and bullying by members of the public.

Some 410 respondents, or 9.4 per cent, say they experience “external harassment” or bullying by clients on a daily basis. Over 1,300 respondents, more than 30 per cent, report such harassment at least once a month.

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The survey measured five key areas, including how employees feel about their role at the city, cultural values, workplace ethics and integrity, health, safety and wellness and workplace census and demographics.

City Manager Chris Murray, who presented the results to Hamilton’s General Issues Committee on Tuesday morning, notes that 4,877 employees completed the survey.

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That represents an overall response rate of 65 per cent, which Murray describes as a “pretty good sample of our organization.”

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The survey was administered by Metrics@Work, a leading provider of organizational measurement and consulting.

Murray adds that the next steps will include sharing the results with employees and the community, implementing action plans for improvement in select areas, monitoring progress and resurveying in 2020.

He stresses that follow-up will be a priority, noting that “it’s easy to survey a group of people,” and adding that “the more difficult work is taking the results to the front line and working on the actions that need to be taken.”

In the area of harassment and bullying, Murray adds that “we have to find ways to support our staff,” stressing that “not being yelled at” should not be the basis of a good day for any employee.

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In terms of areas of strength, close to 80 per cent of those surveyed would recommend the City of Hamilton as an employer and agree that their work contributes to the city’s vision, while over 75 per cent report a sense of accomplishment and 81 per cent agree that there’s a respect for diversity in the municipal workforce.

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Issues most frequently singled out for improvement include “top-down communication,” staffing levels and a need for more or better training of employees.

Murray concludes that while there are challenges we have to go address, the survey results indicate that “the organization is moving in a reasonably good direction.”

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