A local government should be a reflection of its community

After the 2010 election, I was interviewed by the Guelph Mercury.  Performance measurement had been a key plank in my election platform and they wanted to know how committed I was to reporting on “the good, the bad and the ugly”.  Doing business differently in the public sector is politically risky but as they say, “if you don’t measure, it you can’t manage it”.

The private sector can get on with business and continuously improve their practice in relative anonymity.  Not so in the public sector. So doing business differently means headlines like these:

City’s employee engagement level needs more attention

City Hall absenteeism high, morale low

My hats go off to the General Managers in the Operations and Transit Service Area for establishing employee engagement as a key performance indicator in their annual reports to Council.  That is bold.

Employees, regardless of which sector they work in, want to be recognized for the work they do and they want know that they are contributing to something larger than their job.

I saw that at the groundbreaking for Wurth Canada last week.  The CEO had bused all his employees to Guelph and it was clear there was huge excitement about being part of a new chapter in the company’s history.

Given the high level of community satisfaction with City services, I don’t doubt our employees’ commitment to public service.  It is a special calling and I witness that commitment every day.

But it is more than that.

One internal initiative that is showing success in building employee engagement is the work of the Diversity Committee.  One thing that makes Guelph special is how much our community values diversity.  The Multicultural Festival this weekend is a symbol of this part of our city’s identity.  A local government should be a reflection of the community it serves.  That is one of the reasons why I believe the Diversity Strategy is striking a chord amongst our employees.  They are becoming part of what makes us stand out as a community.

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