MROO Protects the pensions and enhances the quality of life for all OMERS pensioners.
Check out their spring 2019 newsletter with lots on updates and information for pensioners and those preparing for retirement.
MROO Protects the pensions and enhances the quality of life for all OMERS pensioners.
Check out their spring 2019 newsletter with lots on updates and information for pensioners and those preparing for retirement.
It has been a spring that many will say there was nothing to smile about. It was cold, rainy and dark. From all the rain we have beautiful green lawns and flowers starting to bloom. Again there are many people in parts of the world that are not smiling with all the rain causing flooding and destruction. I wanted to take this opportunity to write about smiling and how contagious it may be in our workplace and for our clients.
Some people are always smiling, cheerful, and they seem to brighten up a room. Their positive attitude and gusto are identified by those they come in contact with. Moreover, we have all encountered those have the opposite effect on people-the “doom and gloom effect.” we often refer to one’s attitude and yet what is that? It is your mental state or the position you take regarding life.
Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” If you take the word “OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE,” some people see the “no where” while others see “now here.” So is the glass half empty or half full? Often the difference between success and failure is not linked to how we look, how we dress, or how much education we have; it is based on how we think!
Great leaders share the same thought; knowing that a positive attitude is contagious. As leaders, it is vital that we display a positive mindset daily. After all, if we expect our employees to express positive attitudes, we should model such behaviours for them to see.
Each day we have a choice of whether we elect to display a positive or negative attitude. Daily, we encounter negative attitudes at work and in our personal lives. If you remain positive amongst pessimism, you can be contagious.
Some times it is not that easy. I have found some tips I would like to share to help you be positive from “Attitudes are Contagious. Is Yours Worth Catching” by Patti Wanamaker.
· If you want more success in your leadership role and to have a positive impact on your employees, then make sure your attitude is worth catching.
Many of you are thinking, what is there to smile about, and why maintain a positive attitude when there are doom and gloom around us? Research has shown that there are health benefits of smiling in the workplace. We are dealing with conflict, mental health issues and have difficult situations arising every day as we manage our workplace. Interestingly many years ago, it was declared that “the smile is the best medicine for the happiness of humanity.” Later scientific research explained the effects and physiological benefits of smiling for a healthier life. Smiling can be beneficial, in dealing with illness, pressures of everyday life, stress at work, and smiling can even substantially change the quality and forecasts of our lives.
Would life not be better if people smile regularly? I think smiling every day would keep you away from the doctor and feeling self-confident. Try these:
There are times when smiling, and laughter can be contagious. If you smile more than you can make other people around you also smile more. So by smiling yourself, you can reduce the stress levels of people around you and change their moods. Maybe even improve the quality of social interaction, and reduce your stress level as well.
They say that optimists have a stronger immune system and can fight disease better than the pessimists. There is a link between a positive attitude and good health, which is measured in many different ways. In general, researchers have discovered that optimistic people are more healthy, and they have a stronger immune system.
According to the British Organization of Dental Health, a smile has the level of stimulation as eating 2000 chocolate bars.
A smile does not cost you a cent, and it is easy to spread. A recent study showed that preschool children laugh 400 times a day, but the time we reach adulthood, we just laugh an average of 17 times per day.
So take the challenge and smile more often and find things in your lives that you can laugh about.
Stay great and healthy.
Monika B. Jensen PhD is Principal of the Aviary Group and can be contacted by email at [email protected]
As a steward of taxpayer dollars, municipal buyers face tremendous pressure to get the best price for your organization. This keeps the tax burden low amid always tight budgets. The mantra often heard is “do more with less”. Often the “best price” isn’t always the “lowest price.” You need the most qualified vendors to give you their lowest possible price, and you need to settle on those prices quickly.
You are already relying on your purchasing staff and group organizations, to ensure the vendors you select are qualified. Are you aware that you can now take savings to a whole new level with Electronic Reverse Auctions? A “reverse what?” you say….
The term “Electronic Reverse Auction” or “ERA” may not be known to you now but it is a tool that every municipality in Canada will be hearing more of as it becomes a standard part of the municipal procurement tool kit.
The traditional procurement tool kit in Canada consists of tenders and RFPs that function under the notion that bidders get one chance to give you a price which is sealed in an envelope and opened later by the purchasing staff. Once the envelopes are opened, changes cannot be made to the price and the lowest price bidder is duly rewarded, either with the contract outright or by being assigned the most points for that criteria if there are other criteria to consider. What is generally believed is that we received the best possible price…..only we do not have any way of knowing if bidders collectively would have bid lower, had they been given the opportunity to make further reductions in price. We may have gotten the best value that was offered but buyers are left to wonder if we received true market value. Many in the municipal sector are familiar with the terms “municipal premium” or “public sector premium”, usually spoken of in whispers and behind closed doors. We often think that it would have been much less expensive if we were buying the same thing for a private sector organization. A buyer in the private sector likely would have been able to, or even encouraged to, negotiate a better deal.
What if municipal buyers did not have to take the first and only offers presented? What if they could negotiate with the qualified suppliers in a fast, fair and honest way? Could suppliers be allowed to reduce their bid, if they felt it was in their best interest, in order to secure the public contract.
Until recently, this type of scenario was not realistic in Canada in the public sector, but that has now changed. In 2017 the Canadian Free Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement both came into effect. These trade agreements, for the first time, explicitly recognize electronic reverse auctions as a legitimate public procurement method in Canada and include provisions to govern their use in public sector procurement.
While this is a new development in Canada, reverse auctions have been recognized internationally for many years in leading standards like the United Nations Model Law on Public Procurement as well as the European Union Procurement Directive. Countries around the world, including the US, UK, and Australia, have successfully used reverse auction in municipal procurement for the past two decades with significant savings in a variety of categories of spend.
An Electronic Reverse Auction (ERA) is an online, real-time purchasing technique which involves the presentation by suppliers of successively lowered bids during a scheduled period of time and the automatic evaluation of bids. A reverse auction can be configured in two ways that align with the traditional procurement process: 1) as the entire competition when price is the only criteria and the winner is the lowest bid at the end of the electronic auction; or 2) as the second stage in a two-stage competition when other quality-based criteria have already been evaluated, in which case the winner is the supplier judged to have the highest overall evaluated bid.
Respected Canadian public procurement lawyer, Paul Emanuelli, stated in his recent whitepaper, Electronic Reverse Auctions: Debunking Myths and Misconceptions, published in 2018:
“The question is no longer whether ERAs can or should be used…. The question is how much further can ERAs be expanded across all sectors, …., to achieve improved process efficiencies and cost savings.”
Emanuelli goes on to recommend that “organizations interested in implementing ERAs should take the following seven steps:
1. Adopt legally vetted Negotiable RFP templates with ERA protocols
2. Update to ERA‐friendly policies and procedures
3. Develop an industry strategy to select the right projects
4. Create a rollout plan to control internal deployment
5. Ensure appropriate internal training and awareness
6. Get initial launch support from experienced advisors
7. Develop a plan for self‐sufficient long‐term use”
For Canadian municipalities, ERA’s represent an opportunity to reduce spending in a disciplined and strategic way. While not fool-proof and certainly not applicable to all purchasing categories, when ERA’s are strategically used, you can expect to generate savings of 8-20% depending on the category. What kind of impact would that level of savings have on your organization?
Qualified vendors. Lowest prices. Best use of taxpayer dollars. That’s what you get from a reverse auction.
To learn more please contact Craig Milley at Wayfinder Consulting Inc. – Your Procurement & Supply Chain Guide
Municipal governments are facing multiple, growing, and overlapping challenges. Yet, there are tools available to address these challenges that are not being used to their full potential. Market-based policies such as well-designed user fees can help reduce traffic, cut water use, and improve solid waste management, while generating revenue that can be used to fill financial gaps.
These challenges include:
It all sounds a little daunting. Yet an under-used policy option might lie at the intersection of these challenges. Municipalities can use market-based tools to fund critical infrastructure and create incentives for individuals and businesses to make choices that improve the livability and sustainability of our communities.
Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, with support from the McConnell Foundation, has developed a unique online course on municipal market-based tools for sustainable development that will help municipal employees, and those that work with municipalities, successfully design and implement these solutions.
Through five self-directed and on demand modules that include recordings of webinars led by experts and experienced practitioners and a series of online exercises, participants will learn how Canadian municipalities can practically use a variety of market-based tools. The five modules include:
The course is guaranteed to provide unique insight and practical guidance on the selection, design and implementation of municipal market-based tools.
Who should attend?
The course is intended for municipal employees, as well as federal and provincial employees that work with municipalities on related issues. It is open to anyone, including students and private sector employees, that has an interest in topics such as municipal finance, asset management, infrastructure financing, environmental policy, urban planning, traffic management, water and wastewater management, and solid waste management.
The course is well suited to busy professionals. You can complete the modules at your own pace and on your own schedule.
You can purchase individual modules for $50, or sign up for all 5 modules for $200 (a $50 savings). Complete at least 3 modules, including course exercises, to receive a certificate! While modules can be mixed and matched, Module 1 is a pre-requisite for modules 2-5 as it is foundational.
We’ve also made available a mini-course that summarizes the material for $70. Presented by Justin Leroux in French, this mini-course includes videos that cover the highlights of our traffic, water and wastewater, and municipal waste modules as listed above.
You know muniSERV is a powerful online platform that helps consultants/professionals and municipal service providers showcase themselves directly to municipal decision-makers. Your muniSERV professional membership includes an SEO optimized professional profile with access to exclusive and targeted marketing to municipal clients. We help you build your reputability and visibility within Canadian municipalities to grow your business.
Now, muniSERV.ca and the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) are happy to announce the development of a Members in Transition Toolkit to help Canadian CAO members in transition access the information and professional services they need as they navigate their way through transition.
Our partnership with CAMA provides an exclusive and unique opportunity for your muniSERV professional profile to link directly to the CAMA Members in Transition Toolkit on their website – and to those CAMA members in transition who need your professional services. Participating in this special category increases your opportunity to build your practice/business locally and across Canada.
We are now looking for the following professionals from each province to provide specific services for inclusion in the toolkit:
How can you participate in the special transition/career services category?
muniSERV Members: If you’re already a muniSERV professional member, you’re all set. All you need to do is go to your dashboard and add the new, special Transition/Career Services in the “Build Membership Package” section.
New muniSERV Members:
*muniSERV is pleased to share the revenue from this special category with CAMA to support their members and future projects.
Each year a number of Canadian CAO’s are transitioned out of their CAO positions. Most often they are simply a casualty of a new political environment.
CAMA recognized the growing need to support their CAO members in transition and engaged a consultant to develop a Members in Transition Toolkit. The Members in Transition Toolkit will be launched at the 2019 Annual Conference in Quebec City.
It became evident that those transitioned members who had immediate and continual access to good resources, appeared to get through transition easier. So part of the project included having them identify the specific resources that would have been helpful to them as they navigated their way through transition.
We now need to locate the professionals from each province who provide these identified resources, for inclusion in the toolkit. The toolkit will list the services required and will link to the professionals who provide the service, so our members in transition can quickly and easily find the professional resources they need, when they need them.
Specifically, here are the professionals we need for the toolkit:
Employment Lawyers (who represent employees)
Financial Planners/Accounting Planning/Taxation Advisors
HR Advisors/Career/Transition Counsellors/Life Coaches
Recruiters/Executive Recruitment Firms/Head Hunters
If you provide any of the above professional services, please consider becoming a muniSERV professional member and then select the special Transition/Career Services category after the toolkit is launched in May. Doing so provides you with the unique opportunity to be automatically be linked directly to the CAMA Members in Transition Toolkit so CAMA’s CAO members in transition can easily find you. *muniSERV is pleased to share the revenue from this special category with CAMA to support future projects.
How to Participate
If you already have a muniSERV professional profile, you’re all set until the launch of the new toolkit in May. We’ll notify you when you need to go back into your dashboard and add the new, special Transition/Career Services in “Build Membership Package”.
If you’re not a muniSERV member yet;
1. Become a muniSERV member today and create your profile in your dashboard
2. Start appearing in searches in the Find Municipal Experts & Services database right away and get a free Members’ Only Rotating ad (value of $120) for your first month of membership.
3. We’ll notify you when you need to go back into your dashboard in the “Build Membership Package”, and add the special “Transition/Career Services” category to your cart.
4. Then you will be able to select as many subcategories as you like, in “Manage my Profile”
You already know muniSERV.ca offers a full suite of tools for municipalities – most of which are free.
But, we’re always on the hunt for even more new and innovative tools and resources to help Canadian municipalities – and we’ve found another perfect partner!
We’re pleased to announce that muniSERV.ca has entered into a partnership with GoByDesign, for their innovative new platform – BoxOfDocs, The Ultimate Sharing Platform For Canadian Municipalities.
Whether you are updating your existing bylaws or policies, or looking to develop new standards, and want to see what similar municipalities have in place, BoxOfDocs is here to help.
*Bonus Partnership Offer
Now, when you register for free on muniSERV, you can also activate your Free Trial of the BoxOfDocs, Municipal Premium Membership, which lets you effortlessly share documents with other Canadian municipalities and gives you with access to thousands of documents your municipality uses daily!
If you have not committed to being an active member for either muniSERV or BoxOfDocs yet, now is a great time to join both and network with other Canadian municipalities to take advantage of valuable tools and services offered under this new partnership.
Founder & Principal,
muniSERV & muniJOBS
In today’s workplace employee conflicts may and do happen. Sometimes they begin as simple matters which escalate into significant issues in the workplace causing lower performance and productivity resulting in lack of communication, misunderstanding of the intent, personality clashes or different perceptions and values.
It is vital to deal with employee conflict, whether minor or significant, in a timely fashion to preserve a positive, healthy work environment and to evade any increase or collateral damage among work teams and others departments.
We are finding that managers often do not respond accordingly to the issues of conflict in the workplace. In many cases, it is for lack of experience, fear of retaliation against them, insufficient training and lack of confidence. Sometimes they find it easier to avoid and ignore then tackle the sensitive issues.
When issues are not dealt with quickly and efficiently in the workplace, they tend to fester and develop in magnitude. When an employer has contacted me, the situation usually has been growing underground, so to speak, for some months before it explodes in either the HR office or before the managers. Typically, at this point, the problem is more complicated, involves more staff and takes more effort and time to resolve. At times it may even undermine the staff’s confidence in the manager’s ability to manage.
Some common behaviours of supervisors and managers which may have a negative impact on the managing of workplace disputes effectively would be ignoring the situation until it is about to “burst”.
When managers disregard challenging situations, when they do come to the surface, they require immediate and urgent action usually at a very inconvenient time to resolve. Some managers tend to overlook an awkward situation altogether until the case is ready to blow up. Then they need to take immediate action to try to deal with it, and this almost always occurs at an inconvenient time, like on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend. Putting your management head in the sand will not make the problem go away, it will only make it worst. Taking action early in the workplace dispute development is usually the best solution, with the most excellent chance of success.
Not dealing with a conflict that is escalating quickly, many managers found themselves frustrated and overwhelmed which could add fuel to the case, potentially affecting the decision-making process and the capability to contain and resolve the situation comprehensively.
Another mistake a manager may make is letting the office politics interfere with resolving the conflict. When office politics interfere with the steps of the solution, staff in the workplace goes camping. Taking sides of either the complainant or the respondent. The team that tries to remain neutral (sitting on the fence) only suffer the ongoing bickering of the two parties.
The way that employees perceive situations in the workplace are essential to resolving the conflicts in the actions to be taken. A biased move (recognized or not) on the managers part may result in more battles and create permanent barriers in the workplace.
The objective of workplace dispute resolution in the first place is to come to an agreement or solution that is practical and realistic for all parties. So it may mean there is a requirement for conciliation to move forward to resolution by the manager.
Taking a page out of Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” book and initially “seek to understand then be understood”.
Sitting down with the employees, listening actively to what they are disturbed about, gathering all the information from both sides and only then attempting to craft a clear picture of what is going on, why and what the options might be regarding resolving or improving things for those caught up in the conflict.
The bottom line is that disputes and conflict in the workplace are not stoppable. Anticipating how to approach these workplace situations beforehand, may put you in a position to be ready to take action when they occur.
Monika B. Jensen PhD
Whether you have new council members, a new ratepayers’ group or increasing cost pressures, communicating financial information effectively can make the difference between adopting a budget in three meetings or three months.
It can be tough though; people collapse municipal services and property taxes with other agency’s services and taxes, and services are easy to take for granted.
This budget season, let pictures do the work. Here are four images you can add to your budget presentation to help tell your story about why costs are increasing and how public money is spent.
Why the increasing focus on capital? Local governments own most of the public infrastructure in Canada now – that means covering lifecycle costs, asset management, preventative maintenance and more. Try using this graphic depicting the transfer of assets to local governments to illuminate newer financial responsibilities.
Looking for a way to connect council-approved projects with annual funding?
Senior Management Team, meet the iceberg. It’s a graphic metaphor one Canadian city manager used to describe the growing number of projects council approved, announced without a funding plan, (also known as projects that were ‘below the [funding] line’) and deferred. The image highlights which projects the council-directed tax increase pushes forward to future years and the risk that political talk does not match budget walk.
Are there special programs or project costs council wants to highlight? Separating an infrastructure levy from the operating levy on the tax bill can be an effective way to highlight costs. The City of Mississauga’s bill identifies three such levies for the City of Mississauga highlights three special levies: The Emerald Ash Borer Management Program (a tree pest), Capital Infrastructure and Debt Repayment and the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus.
Tired of comparing the cost of services to the cost of a cup of coffee to communicate that municipal services are good value for money? Try this instead: The services we provide are important because they support everyone’s bodily functions. Every shower, flush, cereal box and bike ride involves local services.
This budget cycle, give elected representatives the gift that keeps on giving: a metaphor about how far municipal tax dollars go with an hourly reminder from their own body.
Enter your email here to get these images sent to you in a PowerPoint slide deck.
What other budget metaphors, pictures and visuals have you come across that help communicate specific program costs or macro/micro capital shifts?
Emily Harris has worked in municipal finance policy as an academic at Carleton University, as the Manager of Policy at the Municipal Finance Officers’ Association, as a Management and Policy Consultant in the Toronto City Manager’s Office, as a Financial Analyst in the City of Toronto’s budget division and as a private consultant, completing projects for Local Authority Services (LAS) and the Ontario Government ministries of finance and municipal affairs. As Director of The Policy Shop, she specializes in financial policy updates for local governments and can be contacted at [email protected].
October is Mental Health Month. Recently there has been bigger mindfulness of the impact of mental health problems on individuals and the workplace. The economic impact is realized through direct treatment costs to the health care system as well as indirect costs, such as reduced or lost productivity due to absenteeism.
Mental health problems account for about half of employee absences due to illness each year in Canada for example, 3.5 days lost per employee per year are due to mental health problems. It is estimated that mental illness results in 35 million lost workdays each year in Canada.’
Employees living with mental health problems may feel and behave out of character at home and work. There may be feelings of things not quite right, yet they are unable to pinpoint the problem. Their co-workers, supervisors and family members may start to notice a change in mood and behaviour.
Signs that indicate an employee or colleague may have a mental health problem are:
· Regular late arrivals or often absent
· Lack of teamwork or an over-all disinterest in working with co-workers
· Lower output
· Increased mishaps or safety problems
· Numerous complaints of exhaustion or unexplained pains
· Difficulty focusing, not being decisive or forgetting things
· Making apologies for missed deadlines or poor work
· Decreased attention or involvement in one’s work
· Working excessive overtime over a prolonged period
· Expressions of outlandish or grand ideas
· Displays of irritation or pointing the finger at others
It is important to highlight that people behaving in these ways may be just having a bad day or week or dealing with a difficult situation in their personal life that may be temporary. A pattern that continues for a more extended period, however, may point to an underlying mental health problem.
Stress is a consistent part of life and work, and it can be positive or negative. Unwarranted hurtful stress through life events, including workplace issues, can contribute to mental health problems. Work itself can be expected to generate a certain level of stress associated with meeting deadlines and expectations, the need to feel valued and the loss of control over one’s time.
There are many causes of workplace stress. One key to effective stress management is maintaining awareness of the potential stressors and readiness to address them before they become problematic. Some of the most critical sources of work-related stress are listed below.
· Poor communication
· Incongruity in work demands, individual ability and amount of control over working practices
· Work overload and work underload
· Shift work and/or night work
· Segregation, isolation and/or unstructured support for home workers
· Short-term contracts
· Role conflict, uncertainty and changing roles
· The uneven weight assigned by management to consultation, support and control
· Lack of training for managers in communication and people skills
· Uncomfortable physical workspace
· Introduction of new technology, if not planned and gradual
· The culture of presenteeism, in which an employee feels the need to be seen working at all times
· Work-life imbalance
· Home-based stresses that support or feed off of work-based stresses
Managing workplace stress can include training for employees to raise awareness about the causes and effects of stress, as well as to learn skills for coping with stress at work and in their personal lives.
Research has shown that some job stressors are worse than others, such as jobs that continuously involve imposed deadlines over an extended period and give individuals little control over the day-to-day organization of their work (high demand/low control). These jobs can lead to more than double the rate of heart and cardiovascular problems. As well as significantly higher rates of anxiety, depression and fell of being undermined. High demand/low control jobs also lead to substantially higher alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter drug use, and a significantly higher susceptibility to infectious diseases.’
Jobs that require high physical or mental effort but offer little in the way of compensation, status, financial gain or career enhancement (high effort/low reward) also affect employee stress levels. These jobs are associated with triple the rate of cardiovascular problems and significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety and conflict-related problems
The health of workers does not have to be compromised by stress. Changes to the workplace can make for a more mentally healthy workplace, especially when employees feel adequately rewarded and have greater control of their work.
Mental health problems can seriously affect someone’s ability to work. If left untreated and the mental health problem worsens, the employee may need to stop working altogether.
On the other hand, employees may try to continue to work knowing that they are not performing to their usual standards. If mental health problems are acknowledged early, and proper treatment is obtained, most people can quickly return to their regular performance at work, and much unhappiness and suffering can be avoided.
Monika B. Jensen Ph.D