Edmonton

New survey shows Edmonton city workers struggle with confidence in leaders

More than two years after the City of Edmonton fielded complaints about harassment and bullying, managers are hopeful employees are happier in their jobs. 

51 per cent of staffers said they feel free to speak their minds without fear

City of Edmonton plans to do 'check-in' employee morale survey every three months. (Natasha Riebe/CBC)

More than two years after the City of Edmonton fielded complaints about harassment and bullying and got negative publicity because of it, managers are hopeful employees are happier in their jobs. 

On Thursday, the city released results of a brief survey conducted in December that asked employees to score their experiences in 10 areas, including job satisfaction and feeling safe in the workplace. 

The statement, "The work that I do at the City of Edmonton is meaningful to me" had the most positive result, with 77 per cent of respondents in agreement.

But only 52 per cent said they have confidence in the executive leadership team.

And the statement, "I feel free to speak my mind without fear of negative consequences" was agreed to by just 51 per cent of respondents.

Employees were asked to score each statement from one to five, with one indicating the person strongly disagrees and five that they strongly agree. 

Adam Laughlin, interim city manager, stressed the importance of engaging the workforce. 

"This isn't necessarily about the scores but this is about the feedback," Laughlin said during a Facebook Live event at city hall. 
Employees strongly disagreed with the statement "I feel free to speak my mind without fear of negative consequences," on recent survey. (City of Edmonton)

Just over 6,700 people completed the "check-in" survey, which the city plans to do every three months. 

Nearly 12,100 employees were eligible to take the survey. 

"Corporate journey is a journey, it's not a sprint," Laughlin said. "So you need to make sure you spend the time and encourage folks to create an environment that is comfortable and is inclusive."

The mini evaluation comes more than a year after the city released its 2018 employee engagement survey, which showed nearly one in four staff felt harassed or bullied in the workplace.

That was up from the 2016 survey that showed one in five felt that way. 

After the 2018 survey, the city hired consulting firm Deloitte to process complaints from employees. That contract cost the city more than $3.7 million. 

Kim Armstrong, deputy city manager of employee services, has been at the helm of several  projects in the past year that aim to improve corporate culture, such as building leadership among employees and respectful workplace training.

The city also launched its safe disclosure office, which since January 2019 has received 400 inquiries, Armstrong said. 

Several city employees have reached out to CBC saying that they've been bullied or harassed. They were either not comfortable going on the record, or said their complaints were still being processed.