Blunders managers often encounter when attempting to resolve workplace disputes

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
TEL: 905-683-9953

WEBSITE: www.aviarygroup.ca
PRINCIPAL
FAX: 905-683-9912

 

 

 

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Four Budget Visuals That Help You Tell Your Story

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.

1. Capital Has Changed

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.  

2. Project Commitments: Funded and Approved

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.

 
 

3.  Demonstrate Value Through Better Billing

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.  

4.  Municipal Services are Bodily Services

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 emily@thepolicyshop.ca

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Mental Health Problems and the Workplace

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

·    Idleness

·    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
TEL: 905-683-9953

WEBSITE: www.aviarygroup.ca
PRINCIPAL
FAX: 905-683-9912

 

 

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The answers municipal governments have been looking for?

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:

  • Municipal infrastructure is aging and faces a growing investment gap;
  • Municipalities have limited ability to raise revenues. Only so much can be raised from property taxes. They also often face constraints on debt financing; and
  • To attract people and investment, livability is key: cities must provide job and recreational opportunities, ensure affordability, make it easy to move people and products, and protect clean air and water.

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Cyber threats and how to protect your municipality

Brad Pinch – Director of Municipal Needs at AccessE11

 

Often, when we hear about securing online systems against cyber-attacks the first thought is to invest time and energy into cybersecurity software. While this is important, and should not be downplayed, did you know that software alone will only defend against a small percentage of cyber-attacks?

Hacker Image

 

The easiest way for someone to breach your security infrastructure is to employ the unsuspecting assistance of your users.

According to PhishMe’s 2017 Enterprise Phishing Resiliency and Defense Report, 91% of all cyber-attacks are a result of people who fall prey to Phishing Attacks. Of the remaining 9% of cyber-attacks, more than 75% are the result of other forms of “human failure” to secure information.

Phishing is an attack that begins with a very targeted email sent to your staff (and perhaps yourself), that often impersonates a service provider, colleague, family member or friend and entices you to click on a link or open a document. This action may include a request for private information that provides the perpetrator with the means to launch a secondary cyber-attack or it may launch an attack directly through the download of malicious software. Attacks can be in the form of spyware, malware, and increasingly ransomware and data theft.

Wombats Security’s – State of the Phish 2018 report– suggests that phishing attack frequency from 2016 to 2017 increased by 48%; phishing is on the rise because it continues to work. Hackers have quickly learned that it requires less energy to trick users into giving them access than it does to circumnavigate the sophisticated security systems deployed today.

6 simple steps that a municipality can do to protect themselves

Here are a few steps a municipality can take to minimize its chances of security breaches and cyber attacks.

  1. Stay Informed and educate your team

Much of the battle against phishing and spear phishing (personalized phishing) attacks is getting users to understanding what this type of attack looks like, so they are less likely to be duped. Phishing relies on basic human conditions:

  1. information overload and shortcuts our brains take to process the information,
  2. a desire to help those we care for and trust of information that (seems to) come from them,
  3. curiosity for new information.

These traits are well known to attackers and are exploited in order to get victims to click on a link or open a document. Emails look like they’re from legitimate sources: Microsoft 365, Google, Dropbox, PayPal, Adobe account, LinkedIn, credit card company and many more.

There is a great infographic called don’t get hooked: how to recognize and avoid phishing attacks from the Digital Guardian. Print it out and post it for all to see.

  1. Keep your software up to date

Malware is being created all the time and is designed to take advantage of newly discovered vulnerabilities in our general use software. Vendors are quick to update their software, but you must update your version in order to be secure. You should regularly, or ideally automatically, update your software:

  1. Browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc)
  2. Operating Systems (Windows, MacOS)
  3. Office Software (Outlook, Word, Adobe)
  1. Call before you click

Any email from a bank or colleague can usually be responded to directly, rather than via a reply or by clicking on a link. If there is ever any doubt, call your bank on the phone (using published numbers, not one in the email), or log directly into their website directly – not from the link in the email. By not taking the shortcut, fraudulent links can be avoided.

  1. Install anti-virus software and activate the Anti-Phishing toolbar if available

Antivirus software is designed to guard against known vulnerabilities. Even though today’s operating systems are more secure than ever, security tools look for malicious content in real time and provide an extra layer of scrutiny. And make sure you keep it updated as well.

Internet browsers can also be extended with anti-phishing toolbars. Such toolbars run quick checks on any site you visit and compare it a to lists of known phishing sites. If you stumble upon a malicious site, the toolbar will alert you about it. This is just one more layer of protection against phishing scams, and there are many that are completely free.

  1. Implement Secure Password Policies

As hard as it is to believe, the 10 most common passwords in 2017 were:

  • 123456, 123456789, qwerty, 12345678, 111111, 1234567890, 1234567, password123, 123123, 987654321

It won’t take a hacker long to break these codes.

Equally important though – do not use the same password for everything: If you do, and someone gets access to one system, they can often get access to them all. If you struggle to remember passwords (who doesn’t) there are many excellent tools that can assist:

These programs store an encrypted version of your passwords on your computer and conveniently provide them when you need them. This means remembering only one password.

  1. Beware the Unknown Storage Devices

It is possible the free USB drive that is received from a tradeshow, or the one you found in the parking lot has a virus on it. Sites that sell marketing USB drives unwittingly provide ones that have viruses installed from the source in China, Russia, India, Korea and other countries (yes including the UK, US, and Canada). These were likely never checked by the company who put their information on the drive to give to you.

If a data storage device is not bought by your company or municipality from a reputable source then it should not be allowed on one of your computers, ever!

These are only a few ideas to help better protect your organization from cyber-attacks. The common element in each remains the same; people and their behavior represent the greatest risk but also provide the best defense against cyber-attacks. Any user can open the door to intruders, so ensuring everyone understands the risk and remains vigilant is critical. Investment in the human factor will pay off quickly and be more cost-effective than any other action.

For More Interesting Articles on Issues that Municipalities are facing please visit us at https://www.accesse11.com

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Strategies to Overcoming Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

Unconscious bias is hitting the news. From Bay Street to Main Street to Starbucks the impact of unspoken bias is real and harmful to the workplace. Bias stands in the way of making correct decisions in hiring and promoting. It also has a vital impact on your staff and the workplace in general. Let’s explore how we can become aware of our own bias and stop it in the workplace?

 

First, let’s define it. “Unconscious bias refers to a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences. (ECU: 2013 Unconscious bias in higher education) 

 

We all have a bias. The question is, do we identify it and then what do we do about it? In addressing one of the most crucial training issues facing the workplace today, unconscious bias, employers can assist in creating an inclusive, civil and respectful workplace. 

 

Research indicates that unconscious biases are prejudices we have, yet are uninformed of. They are “mental shortcuts based on social norms and stereotypes.” (Guynn, 2015). Biases can be based on skin colour, gender, age, height, weight, introversion versus extroversion, marital and parental status, disability status (for example, the use of a wheelchair or a cane), foreign accents, where someone went to college, and more (Wilkie, 2014). If you can name it, there is probably an unconscious bias for it.

 

Hence if we think we are unbiased, we may have unconscious adverse thoughts about people who are outside our own group. If we spend more time with people from other groups, we are less likely to feel prejudice against them.

 

This universal tendency toward unconscious bias exists because bias is rooted in our brain. Research shows that our brain has evolved to mentally put things together to make sense to us. The brain sorts all the information it is blasted with and labels that information with universal descriptions that it may rapidly access. When we categorize these labels as either good or bad, we tend to apply the rationale to the whole group. Many of the conclusions are taken from previous experiences and learnings.  

In an article, “The Real Effects of Unconscious Bias in the Workplace”, a few of the known unconscious biases that directly impact the workplace include:

  • Affinity bias is the tendency to warm up to people like ourselves.
  • Halo effect is the tendency to think everything about a person is good because you like that person.
  • Perception bias which is the inclination to form stereotypes and assumptions about specific groups that make it awkward to make an objective judgement about members of those groups. 
  • Confirmation bias is the openness for us to pursue evidence that sanctions our pre-existing beliefs or experiences. 
  • Group think is a bias which occurs when people attempt to fit into a specific crowd by mirroring others or holding back opinions and views. This results in individuals losing part of their characteristics and causes workplaces to miss out on originality and creativity.

Horace McCormick’s research found more than 150 identified unconscious biases, making the task of rooting them out and addressing them daunting. For many organizations, however, identifying as many as possible and eliminating them has become a high priority.  

 

You can address discrimination issues by increasing your awareness of your unconscious biases, and by developing strategies that make the most of the talents and abilities of your team members. 

Unconscious behaviour is not just individual; it influences organizational culture as well. This explains why so often our best attempts at creating corporate culture change with diversity efforts seem to fall frustratingly short; to not deliver on the promise they intended.

 

What you can do: 

  • Be aware consciously of your bias 
  • Focus more on the people, on their strengths
  • Increase Exposure to Biases
  • Make small changes 
  • Be pragmatic 
  • Challenge stereotypes and counter-stereotypical information 
  • Use context to explain a situation 
  • Change your perception and relationship with out-group members 
  • Be an active bystander 
  • Improve processes, policies & procedures  

Also, managers can play a crucial role in unearthing these hidden biases by declaring their intentions to be non-biased. They can also provide transparent performance appraisals that emphasis on the employee’s exceptional abilities and skills, and grow a stronger mindfulness of their own unconscious principles.

 

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Downloadable Return on Investment Calculator

Recently, I have been chatting with business owners about their software needs. The consensus seems to be that technology is rapidly advancing and becoming more efficient. Moreover, businesses and organizations are looking into how to most effectively and economically invest in custom software. The needs of today’s businesses are very unique and robust and that is why many of them are investing in custom software.

The challenge is that not many people know the standard ROI (Return on Investment) for software development or how long it will take to make your money back. Because of these conversations I have been having, I have developed this easy to use Free Downloadable Software Development ROI Calculator. This tool is a great starting point for businesses and managers who are looking for a ballpark when it comes to custom software ROI.

Download Software Development Return on Investment Calculator.

Again, this tool is a great starting point, but if you have any more questions or want a free personal software needs analysis for your business, be sure to reach out to CoreSolutions via our Contact Page.

Please enjoy our new ROI Calculator!

Cheers,

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The Cost of a Wrong Hire and how to do it Right

The Cost of a Wrong Hire and how to do it Right

 

Are you ready to lose hundreds of productive hours and thousands of dollars? I thought not. Unfortunately, hiring the wrong person is estimated to cost at least 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“When you add up missed sales opportunities, strained client and employee relations, potential legal issues, and resources to hire and train candidates, the cost can be considerable,” says CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson.

As the saying goes, one bad apple can spoil the bunch, and this couldn’t be truer than in the workplace. Company culture can quickly be poisoned by negative attitudes or even just disengagement. Both tend to spread quickly. Although some employees stay strong and seem immune, they can become frustrated or burned out trying to make up for the poor performance of others. As a result, some key employees may decide their talents are better spent elsewhere.

While there may be no sure-fire way to guarantee a successful hire, there are some best practices which will up your odds of hiring the right person for the job.

  • Provide a detailed job description – If the candidate isn’t aware of the full responsibilities of the job, they may end up in a position that’s out of their comfort zone, let alone their skill set. This could lead to frustration and poor performance.
  • Research the candidate before the interview – Have a look at their LinkedIn page (that’s what it’s there for) to see if they have the necessary experience. Where have they worked in the past? Find out about that company. What titles have they held? Do they have connections to other professionals in the industry?
  • Ask the right questions – Be sure to ask open-ended questions which allow for the candidate to showcase past situations where they’ve put their skills to use and how they relate to the position. There’s a great list of questions to ask on thebalance.www.thebalance.com to get you started.
  • Think about company culture – Culture is defined as the values, practices, and beliefs shared by the members of a group. Will this candidate be a good fit? Feeling like a part of the group is the first step to success.

  • Check references – Make the person offering the reference was in a position of authority over the candidate. A co-worker or team member may have a very different perspective than a supervisor and most likely won’t be able to answer all of your questions. Checking references should go beyond the typical questions like “What was the candidate’s greatest strength?”. Try questions like: How did s/he support co-workers? What was their biggest accomplishment while working for your company? What do you think the candidate needs to really continue his or her career development and professional growth?

 

With due diligence (and a little luck) you’ll be able to offer the position to the right candidate, add an amazing person to your team and avoid those costly hiring mistakes.

 

muniSERV is Canada’s leading online solution for helping municipalities and professionals connect.  We help municipalities save time and money searching for the consultants & CAOs they need while offering professionals the opportunity to showcase their profile and services to get found and grow their business.

 

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Dealing with Escalated Situations in Your Workplace

Resolving workplace conflict is an expected part of the job managers and Human Resource Practitioners. Whether you work in education, healthcare, human services, business, or any field, you might deal with angry, hostile, or noncompliant behaviour every day. Your response to the defensive reaction is often the key to avoiding a physical confrontation with someone who has lost control of their behaviour.

These ten De-Escalation Tips will help you respond to challenging behaviour in the safest, most efficient way possible.

  1. Be empathetic and non-judgmental
  2. Respect personal space
  3. Use non-threatening nonverbal communication
  4. Avoid overacting
  5. Focus on feelings
  6. Ignore challenging questions
  7. Set limits
  8. Choose wisely what you insist upon
  9. Allow silence for reflection
  10. Allow time for decisions

 

 To help you towards more efficient conflict de-escalation and resolution, the following basic steps can be followed:

  • Obtain the name of the person with whom you are speaking: People respond favourably to their own name. It also makes the conversation more personal. Ask for the person’s name early in the piece and use it throughout the discussion.
  • Use Active Listening: Clarifying, paraphrasing and using open-ended questions ensure that the individual you are speaking with knows you are aware of their situation and frustrations. Resaying a person’s own words back to them demonstrates that you have understood entirely what they were trying to say.       
  • Show support and suspend judgement: Empathy needs to be shown during conflict situations. Respecting the other person’s point of view even if you do not agree entirely will be the first step to resolving the conflict. 
  • Get them to agree and say yes: Having the person agree with you on general factual points leads the conversation towards a more favourable outcome. If you can show that you have understood their point of view by making clarifying statements you generate a state where the other person must reply with an affirmative response. The sooner you can get the person to say yes then sooner the conflict will de-escalate. It always works.
  • Avoid clichés: The worst of these being “Calm Down”. Did you ever notice how people who tell you to calm down are the ones who got you mad in the first place? Saying those words during a verbal conflict usually gets the classic retort “I AM CALM” very loudly usually with an animated hand gestures as well.       
  • Show empathy: You need to show compassion and understanding and give the conflict your full attention. Do not make impulsive decisions. Take the time to work through the problem.
  • Consistency in Courtesy: The person you are dealing with first thing in the morning deserves the same level of respect, civility and patience as the individual you are dealing with at 2 in the afternoon. They warrant the same high level of service and professionalism as the first person you spoke to. You need to maintain that position of positive brand ambassador and an excellent professional service.

There are many physical aspects of being mindful of in conflict situations. It is important always to be aware of features of conflict such as your body language, your emotions, your judgement, and your initial thoughts. Keeping these in mind is essential when trying to de-escalate a problematic situation.

Monika B. Jensen is the principal of the Aviary Group, consulting company that address workplace discord.  For more information, visit www.aviarygroup.ca

 

 

 

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A Quick Tip for Finding Municipal Statistical Data

A Quick Tip for Finding Municipal Statistical Data

As municipal consultants we constantly have the need to research municipal operations and data. But have you ever had difficulty finding it all in one location?

My method of choice to research and collect such information for Ontario municipalities is to use the Ministry of Municipal Affairs Financial Information Return (FIR) site. There is a wealth of information available on this site: https://efis.fma.csc.gov.on.ca/fir/Welcome.htm  

Here is what the site looks like.

Municipalities in Ontario are mandated to report their annual operations to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs by annually submitting a Financial Information Return (FIR).

You can search for information in a variety of ways – By Schedule, by Municipality, Provincial Summaries or Multi-Year Reports. I most frequently search Schedule 40 – Consolidated Statement of Operations – Expenses,  of the municipalities I am needing to compare, because it contains their expenditures which are categorized into the nine (9) main municipal operations.

Others I typically frequently use are – the Municipal Data, Schedule 10 – Revenues, Schedule 20 – Taxation Information and Schedule 80 – Statistical Data, which includes staffing numbers. There are however, a number of other Schedules you can search to find the specific information you may need.

The one caveat I must mention though, is that although municipal operations can be similarly categorized, there is no way to ensure that a municipality is consistently reporting their information in the same category as another municipality. So, if you are comparing municipalities and a number seems too high or too low in comparison, you should always seek clarification from the municipality to be certain you’re comparing apples to apples.

I can only speak to what I’m familiar with here in Ontario, but I suspect a similar reporting requirement exists between all Canadian municipalities and their respective provinces.

If you’re a consultant or other professional in another province, does your province have a similar municipal database?  I would be interested in learning about it so I can share it with our professional members.

Or if you use other methods to find municipal data, I’d love to hear about them too.  We all need data – so why not help each other find it!

Susan Shannon – sshannon@muniserv.ca Susan’s experiences as both a municipal Chief Administrative Officer, and now as a consultant, led to the development of muniSERV.ca .  Her experiences have provided her with the insight she needs to help municipalities and professionals connect.

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