The retention of senior managers in North Cowichan has become an issue due to over work. (File photo)

North Cowichan losing managers to over work

CAO says burn-out an increasing problem

Holding on to senior managers in the Municipality of North Cowichan is becoming more difficult as their workloads increase dramatically, according to Ted Swabey.

Swabey, North Cowichan’s CAO, told council at its meeting on Dec. 18 that staff have made significant progress in accomplishing many of the objectives laid out in council’s inaugural strategic plan for its term in office, but it has come with a price.

He said that much of the progress in achieving the goals of the strategic plan for 2019, including developing council policy for the retail sale of marijuana and an affordable housing strategy, has required significant and unsustainable after-hours work requirements over the past year.

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN WILL NOW START PROCESSING RETAIL CANNABIS APPLICATIONS

Mayor Al Siebring said that he’s often at the municipal hall late in the afternoons and, more often than not, he watches senior staff members leave the building with files and other materials so they could continue to work in the evenings.

“It’s the nature of the job, but it’s not sustainable,” he said.

“We need to acknowledge and recognize this.”

Siebring asked Swabey if, in his long experience working with local governments, this situation can be considered “normal”.

Swabey said that while the municipality has approximately 450 staff, only about 10 are senior managers who are responsible for completing reports and other tasks laid out by council.

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN TO LAUNCH FIRST CITIZEN SATISFACTION SURVEY

“We’re running flat out,” Swabey said.

“The managers are working under big work loads.”

Coun. Rosalie Sawrie asked Swabey if he expects the situation will improve with the structural changes that were made in the municipality in 2019, or if he sees a “red flag” for 2020.

Swabey said the best solution is for council to “have a plan and stick to it”.

“We’ve been given a lot of new work and we’re handling it, but there’s a burn-out factor to consider,” he said.

“We have lost staff because they have had difficulty trying to work out a balance between their private and work lives. How long can we sustain this? I’m not sure.”

Swabey said he sees a council trying to do the right thing, in their minds, to turn the municipal ship around to deal with environmental issues.

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN ACKNOWLEDGES CLIMATE EMERGENCY

He said that not only creates extra work, but the cultural change in the organization takes a “tremendous amount of leadership” on behalf of the managers to deal with.

“I’m proud of what we accomplished,” he said.

“With patience and if council sticks to the plans it makes, we’d be able to cope better.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Robert Barron column: Winter can be hard, but it brings back good memories

I would carefully poke the handle of the shovel through the snow until it bumped into a solid object

Andrea Rondeau column: What are your time capsule must-haves?

It would also be fun to include some pop culture mementos that represent our time.

Climbers compete for Choc and Chalk

Annual competition attracts more than 100

Sarah Simpson Column: Social media mobilized to identify found film photo

Over the course of the day, the post generated a couple of hundred responses.

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in lingerie

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

‘Extensive’ work planned at Big Bar landslide ahead of salmon, steelhead migration

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan visited the site of the slide from June

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Most Read