They’ve Got the City Council Blues

The yawning (and obvious) gap between what Wellington City Council management thinks the workplace culture is, and what the rest of its employees believes has been confirmed by a damning survey.

It found that:

1) Staff are unclear what is expected of them

2) Staff are not enjoying their work and do not expect to be with the organisation two years from now. This is also supported by consistently high turnover and feedback that staff don’t feel empowered and that the environment does not support fresh ideas

3) Staff believe the Council can do much more to improve service delivery.

It’s good that new CEO Kevin Lavery has put this out in the open, instead of retreating further into his civic bunker, denying reality. But I was struck with his comments that:

“[It’s] understandable in the context of the Council having gone through a significant restructure over the past 18 months.

Restructures are always an unsettling time for staff,” says Mr Lavery.

“Having said that, the staff have spoken. They’ve told us how it is. They clearly want to work in a supportive environment where they can enjoy their work and strive for quality knowing that everyone or anyone can come up with good ideas.”

So why are management forging ahead with the restructuring of the Parks, Recreation and Sport Unit? A unit that happens to be the Council’s biggest – accounting for roughly 600 staff?

In the wake of such an unprecedented collective cry for help (over 80% of staff responded) and with the Council still reeling from the CitiOps debacle, you’d think that they (at the very least) might slow down, or even halt, the next and biggest round of re-structuring.

That coupled with Lavery’s new priority of developing an action plan to improve the workplace culture would be the perfect opportunity to reset the organisation’s culture, morale and confidence.

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