Feedback is the key to Engagement

We live and work in an age where feedback is necessary to secure employee engagement.  Study after study demonstrate up to 68% of the American workforce is disengaged.  Approximately 50% are unengaged and an incredible 17% are actively disengaged.[1]   Yikes.

Disengagement means lower levels of productivity, less revenue and higher incidents of weaker culture.  As noted by Gallup: Organizations with higher rates of “…engagement realize substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21% higher profitability.”[2]

Disengagement is an illness that spreads rapidly when tolerated or left unaddressed. 

Why?  Several reasons:

1.   People that “pick up the slack” and generate the work product compensating for the lack of production by the disengaged feel underappreciated.  These employees are, essentially, punished for others being disengaged.  Employees who make up for the productivity of their disengaged colleagues eventually get frustrated and, not altogether unsurprisingly, tend to leave their employer.  Losing disengaged people is one thing, losing hard-working, go-getters is unacceptable for any organization;

2.   Disengaged employees are permitted to continue such disengagement – thus, repeating a vicious cycle where such behavior is encouraged if not altogether promoted.  Obviously, no organization wants to see this happen and yet it does. (As discussed above, such behavior requires the engaged workforce to over-work and drives up rates of attrition); and

3.   Management and ownership experience increasing levels of frustration, anxiety and concern over lower productivity, less revenue and higher levels of attrition.  81% of companies report turnover is a “costly problem” and 63% say retaining employees is actually more difficult than hiring people.[3]

How can ownership stem the tide?  How does an organization encourage and develop engagement?

One, simple word.

Feedback.  Gather feedback.  Analyze feedback.  Appreciate feedback.  Employ feedback to make more effective and objective decisions.

Feedback falls into three general categories – positive, negative and somewhere in between (often referred to as “constructive criticism”).  Management and ownership might not like all the feedback (especially the negative) received, but the process of gathering, analyzing and utilizing feedback helps strengthen culture within the workplace and improve rates of engagement.

A word of caution – if an organization is going through the valuable exercise of gathering meaningful feedback from their people, the organization must use it.  It is also important to gather enough feedback to make it statistically relevant (no need to act immediately after first gathering feedback).  When trends are identified in a given employee’s conduct and interaction with, or net impact on, others on a team or organization-wide level, action must be taken by management.

For an organization to preach the importance of feedback, stress participation in gathering feedback and then do nothing with the data collected can be more damaging than not caring about feedback at all.

Gathering and using feedback effectively can change the face of any organization.  Ripple Analytics Inc. is a cloud-based platform that empowers companies to gather and analyze feedback from their people.  Check us out at  Give us a try!


Why we are qualified to write the blog:   Noah L. Pusey – [email protected] – is the President & CEO of Ripple Analytics Inc.   For over twenty (20) years, Noah has been building teams and developing employees at various companies.  As a result, he has participated in corporate America’s flawed annual review process and has set out to fix it.  He knows what works, what doesn’t and why.  See more about Ripple at


Ontario State of Emergency Returns – What You Need to Know

Municipal Employer Update – State of Emergency Returns

Further to Premier Ford’s announcement January 12th, the Province is returning to a State of Emergency, effective Thursday, January 14th. Though public health measures and restrictions have been in place throughout the pandemic, Ontario has not been in a State of Emergency since July 24, 2020.


We note below only the changes that will come into place Thursday (all current Grey Zone lockdown measures remain in effect as now).  These measures will continue until at least February 11, 2021: 

  1. Employers must ensure that employees who can complete their work from home do so.  Employees are not to attend work unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site at the workplace (for example manufacturers, retailers offering curbside pick-up etc.)
  2. For employees that must attend work, face masks are mandatory in all workplaces even in instances where physical distancing can be maintained.  Masks must be worn outdoors if the workplace does not allow for 2m (6’) of distancing.
  3. Outdoor gatherings are reduced from a maximum of 10 people to 5 people.
  4. Schools will remain closed until February 10 in Windsor, Toronto, Peel, York and Hamilton regions.
  5. Previously announced school re-openings remain as scheduled until further notice.
  6. Daycares remain open to non-school age children.
  7. Retailer and restaurants may provide services as they do now but may only remain open from 7am to 8pm (liquor, beer stores, 9am to 8pm).  Reduced capacity restrictions are being applied to big box stores.
  8. The 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. restriction does not apply to grocery stores, pharmacies and health care facilities.
  9. Car dealers may remain open by appointment only (as now) but only between 7am and 8pm.
  10. Non-essential construction is restricted, including below-grade construction, except for surveying.

Importantly, Ontario has not imposed a general curfew on citizens (as Quebec elected to do by forbidding citizens from being outside their home after 8pm without an essential reason).

As always, if you have questions or need assistance, please contact our offices anytime (while we are working virtually, emails and phones are being monitored at all times).  New developments are expected and we will continue to keep you updated.


925-550 Skyway Drive (Airport Road)

Peterborough,  Ontario  K9J 0E7

705-400-714 | [email protected] |


Covid-19 Increases HungerCount


The Covid-19 economy has reduced quality of life for many impacted by the pandemic. Individuals struggling with food security and mental health will increase. Innovative digital solutions can help collect data and apply data science to provide guidance on how best to manage the crisis with the resources in your community using proactive strategies that cost less and deliver better outcomes.

The Institute for Smarter Government can show you how.

Food Banks Canada monitors hunger across Canada each year with data collected from 4,934 organizations. There were over 1 million visits to Canadian foodbanks in 2019 delivering over 5.5 million meals. This was an increase of 47% over 2018. The pandemic will accelerate visits to the foodbank in 2020 and 2021 with an increase in mental health concerns at the same time.

In 2019, 57% of those requiring help with food were on social assistance, 48% came from a single adult household. One in eight were unemployed.

When Food Banks Canada annual survey HungerCount 2019 asked agencies what their clients’ main reason was for accessing a food bank, clients shared that their social assistance or benefits were too low. They had low or delayed wages. Some had lost their job and were unemployed or did not have enough hours. These four areas of concern accounted for 80% of those individuals requiring assistance from a food bank.

That was in 2019. With Covid in 2020 and now 2021, the economy will hit those living on the edge the hardest. Many families and single adults have less household income. Unemployment and reduced hours with lower pay will greatly accelerate the number of single adults and families arriving at the food bank in 2020/2021.

No alt text provided for this image

Foodbanks HungerCount 2019

There are over 1.1 million Canadians receiving welfare and over 2 million if you include those with disabilities and mental health issues. The Canada Community Health Survey shows food insecurity has a statistically significant relationship with mental health variables.

The connection between food insecurity and mental health is greater with single person households now accounting for 48% of all households served. One in three of the single adults lives in poverty. Since 2016, seniors over 65 mostly with fixed incomes requiring an expansive array of expensive medications have increased visits to the food bank by nearly 30%.

Close to one in five single adults experiences food insecurity and many of those need support from a food bank to make ends meet. Many within this group have mental health issues that are exacerbated by poverty and low income. Many have mental health issues that go untreated for lack of supports available to them, are stuck in a cycle of inadequate social assistance or disability-related supports, or have lost a job and have nowhere to turn for new training and education programs to re-enter the workforce.

When the rent and wage subsidies transition back to the pre-covid economy, the need for food bank support will increase. Mental health and a range of other human service issues will surge.

Food Banks Canada will conduct research March 2021, across the nation to collect data from each community. Short term solutions will help address the immediate need for food while longer term solutions will focus on policy and try to address the question why. #BellLetsTalk offers some great Covid 19 resources to help everyone get through this together.

Canada is now seeing over 8,000 new case of the coronavirus each day. This is four times the rate when the pandemic started in 2020. Vaccines will help reduce transmission. This will take time.

Each community needs to understand how best to serve their population with the resources at hand. Innovative digital solutions can help begin collecting data in a client centric manner that makes it easier to apply analytics and create prescriptive programs that deliver better outcomes for less.

The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative makes it possible for every community to apply for Infrastructure Canada funding starting January 2021.

Be smart and get ahead of the Covid crisis. #Buildbackbetter Find out how to submit your proposal for funding at February webinar. Details will be posted shortly.


Our 2021 Wage Outlook

A Challenging Year Ahead

While Canadian and global stock markets reach new records week, after week (at least at the time of this writing!), employment, inflation and interest rates tell a very different story.

Employment insurance claims at of the end October were up 200% versus the same timeframe last year.  Interest rates are negligible, and the Consumer Price Index, while rising modestly in November (+1.0%) was a mere +0.7% in October — a reference point used in many collective agreements and other compensation plans as a benchmark for 2021 wage increases.

Despite overwhelming government stimulus, it appears that some employers will face cost pressures and may have difficulty maintaining their budgets as the economy slowly recovers. Downward revisions to pay increases in the coming months is expected.

In the last quarter, more than 36 per cent of Canadian organizations froze salaries for 2020, compared to a pre-COVID forecast of just 2% per cent, and this trend is likely to hold true for the coming year.  In fact, almost half of employers are uncertain about what to do in 2021 and 13% plan to continue salary freezes in 2021, while 6% of employers will be looking to reduce wages.

Not since the 2008 financial crisis have we seen average base salary increases drop below 2%.

Union workforces are being hit particularly hard. Negotiated wages for 2020 came in at 1.7 per cent, compared to 1.9 per cent in 2019. Looking to 2021, negotiated wage increases are expected to fall further to 1.6 per cent or lower.

Alberta, historically a region with the strongest wage growth, will also continue its slide below trendlines at 1.7 per cent, the lowest among Canadian provinces and territories.

Not all employers are freezing salaries. Many sectors are experiencing strong demand, and recruitment in a number of job classifications remains competitive.  Among employers who are considering wage bumps, the average pay increase for non-unionized employees in Canada is projected to be 2.1 per cent next year, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

Other bright spots include those working in waste management and remediation services where projections are a rosy 3% cent increase while those in utilities will see a 2.4 per cent increase. Professionals in finance and insurance, scientific and technical services as well as wholesale trade can expect increases of 2.2 per cent.

By sector, salary projections for 2021 are highest among Crown corporations at 2.5 per cent.

The recovery will be uneven. Industries that lend themselves well to remote work, or that were shut down for only short periods, will recover quickly. Other sectors, such as recreation, accommodation and food services will recover much more slowly, with employment levels not returning to their pre-pandemic levels presumably until vaccine campaigns are more widely available in late 2021.


We Are Your HR Department

We look after your Policy Manual, Employment Agreements, government-mandated compliance training and more.  We have you covered – we are your HR Department.  SHRP provides full-service HR support including Job Evaluation and Pay Equity planning in addition to best-in-class Human Resources solutions on a project or ongoing basis with our exclusive HRLive platform.  Contact us today for a free demonstration and start the development of a results-oriented HR strategy for your municipality.


Matthew Savino, B.A. LL.B., C.H.R.E.

Managing Partner, SHRP Limited

925-550 Skyway Drive, Peterborough, ON K9J 0E7

[email protected] | | 705-400-7145



-Statistics Canada

-Morneau Shepell “Salary Projection 2021” Survey

-Conference Board of Canada “Compensation Planning Outlook 2021”

-Canadian Payroll Association

-Willis Towers Watson


How Will You Deliver Effective Training in 2021?

What is the most important HR training topic for 2021?

If you are an HR Leader or CAO, how will you invest your Learning and Development budget to get the maximum benefit for your team? Read on to see how over 1000 HR and L/D professionals answered this question. Their answers may surprise you.

graph on training topics for 2021


These topics are crucial to the well being of organizations and their staff. There is an underlying challenge that many HR professionals face. This is, in part, due to the challenges presented by COVID-19 and the various restrictions and changes brought about by the pandemic.

The Blanchard survey found a number of themes emerging among HR Professionals. These are:          

  • Successfully making the shift to virtual and online learning
  • Helping a workforce struggling emotionally with implications of COVID-19 and working remotely
  • Concerns about their L&D jobs

Do you agree with these, and the ranking order?

In many ways, these challenges can create a ‘Perfect Storm”. Many organizations were unprepared to make the shift to online learning, and as a result, the effectiveness of this mode of Learning and Development is suspect. In fact, the respondents indicated that while 53% of their training is now done virtually, many felt that it was less effective than in-person training.

How do you feel about the effectiveness of your transition to online training?

Given the constraints and challenges many smaller Municipal HR Departments face, it raises the question of how to effectively provide the training necessary. Many HR Departments are already facing the challenge of providing basic training, without the added challenge of having to pivot this online. Over 60% of the respondents said that a lack of the resources, and proficiency in developing eLearning resources, would be major constraints.

How will you pivot your training, and ensure that you continue to provide the best results?

One solution is to look to support professionals who have the training material and are equipped to provide high-quality online resources to help meet your targets for 2021.

If you would like more information, feel free to contact me to see how we can help you deliver top-quality training during this challenging season.

Email me at [email protected]

*Statistics and other information taken from The Ken Blanchard Company’s Report 2021 Trends: Learning and Development in a COVID World


Are You In the Zone?

Interpreting the Province’s Covid-19 Safety Zones

Everyone is becoming more familiar with the Ontario government’s colour-coded system to illustrate the level of restrictions being implemented in each region’s public health unit to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The province and public health units are doing a great job providing guidance, communication, and online resources to understand these requirements. However, it can still be confusing to navigate as each health unit independently moves its region through different restriction levels and in some cases adds additional requirements beyond the baseline measures established at the provincial level.  This is creating a changing landscape of restrictions which will vary based upon industry and/or location. 

In the case of municipalities with community centres, recreation facilities and arenas, additional distancing, safety plan and hygiene measures are required. And in some instances, a regional health unit may issue additional ‘recommendations’ that are not otherwise required in equivalent safety zones but are urged to promote safety.  For example, some health units are now recommending that municipalities introduce measures to prevent attendance by organizations and persons from areas with higher rates of COVID-19 transmission than their own region.  For example, the Peterborough Public Health unit (currently a Yellow Zone) has issued such an advisory to municipalities in its region urging such a restriction on organizations booking facilities from outside their Zone (this would cover anyone looking to book a facility who is coming from a Zone currently designated by public Health authorities as Orange, Red or Grey).

A common requirement for employers in Yellow or higher levels of restriction is the implementation of a “Safety Plan”. While it is only required if your organization fits into a specific category (namely, restaurants, bars and food or drink establishments, sports and recreational facilities, meeting and event spaces, retail businesses located in malls, personal care services, gaming establishments, cinemas and performing arts facilities), we have already seen this requirement expanded in some regions.

For example, if your organization isn’t within one of the above categories, a Safety Plan is not strictly required, however some public health units (such as Durham Region) have required Safety Plans for all retailers in their Red Zone, not just those within shopping malls.  This is a higher standard than the provincial baseline but one that employers must remain informed about.  Of course if your region enters a Grey (Lockdown) Zone you must have a Safety Plan in place regardless of sector.

For these reasons, you may want to draft a Safety Plan even if your organization does not require one at this point in time.  While health authorities always try to give advance warning, sometimes the rapid development of a region’s transmission rate or transmission pattern requires action with very little notice. A downloadable Safety Plan template is available here:

While the recent arrival of vaccines brings hope, the road to safe recovery still remains long.  In the meantime, we are all well advised to follow the Scout’s motto.  Be prepared.

Not sure if your Municipality is Protected?

We look after your Policy Manual, Employment Agreements, government-mandated compliance training and more.  We have you covered – we are Your HR Department.  SHRP provides full-service Human Resources support including Job Evaluation and Pay Equity planning in addition to best-in-class HR solutions and management consulting services on a project, or ongoing basis.

Contact us anytime.

Matthew Savino, B.A., LL.B., C.H.R.E.

Managing Partner & Senior Consultant


925-550 Skyway Drive (Airport Road)

Peterborough,  Ontario  K9J 0E7


[email protected] |



Free Webinar – Workplace Stress – From Bandaid to Real Aid

Workplace Stress: From Bandaid to Real Aid – Executive Briefing

In this informative 30-min webinar you will:

  1. Learn about the 7 areas of organizational stress. Each of which can be measured, and is within your control!
  2. See the power of actionable data.
  3. Discover 3 key action items you can do right now to reduce stress in the workplace.

All participants will receive a “10 Ways to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence” ebook + a special offer.

Join Sophie Mathewson, PCC of Prism Group Int’l in this eye-opening briefing where you will clearly see that there are many workplace stressors that can be identified and quantified and may validate or invalidate current beliefs.

Register Here 



Free Webinar – Federal Technology Fund Addresses Covid-19 Community Challenge

Webinar – Federal Technology Fund Addresses Covid-19 Community Challenge

COVID-19 is forcing over 3200 communities across Canada to find new ways to address the immediate and ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic. Infrastructure Canada created the Healthy Canada Communities Initiative to help municipalities identify and deliver innovative digital projects that address changing community needs through the use of data and connected technologies.

The agency responsible for coordinating the procurement of all proposals under the $31 million fund will be announced shortly.

In the interim, communities especially the smaller ones, are encouraged to develop innovative project ideas that address immediate and ongoing needs arising from Covid-19. To help you with that, we invited the federal government, technology leaders and social service organizations to share ideas that will help build successful innovative digital projects that is inclusive and recognizes Canada’s proud history of diversity and youth. Our panel of experts will share how digital solutions can respond to immediate and ongoing needs arising from COVID-19 as municipalities build back better using good tech as tech for good.

The diverse panel of experts include Minister Bardish Chagger MP for Waterloo, Iain Klugman of Communitech, Tracy Elop from Carizon, John Neufeld from House of Friendship, and Dana Fox from Athena Software.

Kick start your conversation and discover innovative digital projects that address your changing community needs through the use of data and connected technologies.

Your build back better plan starts December 11 at 2 PM EST with ideas, planning and funding. It’s all here.

Click here to register.  

We look forward to seeing you there!




A Municipality’s Culture: Performance-Values Management

This cloud-based Human Resources Information System (HRIS) platform is two dimensional.  Specifically, the municipality’s Performance Expectations and also the municipality’s Cultural, Behavioural, and Values Expectations.

This HRIS platform measures and focuses on an employee and/or manager successfully achieving the municipality’s performance expectations and also their alignment with the culture, values, behavior expectations of the organization.

This, information-rich HRIS provides a centralized, user friendly, comprehensive system of employee information to provide managers and employees with several dimensions of support and develop progress information such as their individual action plan and goal management; 360 degree feedback; individual modifications required; recognition and celebration of their achievements; and several other key performance indicators (KPI) critical to achieving one’s fullest potential in the organization as an employee and/or manager during their employment journey or during onboarding.

The result is to achieve continuous feedback to facilitate clarity of purpose, understanding, and the integration of a plan of action between a manager and an employee; inspiring staff since they feel engaged, supported, and coached on becoming more successful; employees feeling that their viewpoints are respected during a development and coaching process; increases employee workplace satisfaction; increases retention of high performers; identification of areas where an employees needs support to become more successful within the organization; and provides a “Performance-Values Matrix” diagram showing an employee and their manager where the employee is positioned on achieving the performance expectations and the cultural/values/behavioural expectations of the municipality.



If you would like more information, feel free to contact me or visit the Cultural Tools tab of our website where additional information is provided as well as a link to a demonstration video.

Bill Dennis, B.Com., MBA, CSP(Distinction)

President & CEO, Cultural & Generational Training                                                         

Burlington, Ontario     

[email protected]   


Part 3 – How much Space is enough?

girls with masks beside each other

How much Space is enough?

It was hot and humid day in Bujumbura, Burundi.

The mini-bus was loaded and we were ready to drive to our destination in Ijenda. 

To our surprise the bus stopped to pick up some more passengers even before we left the city. The air in the bus got warmer as we crowded together.

We continued our trip upcountry.

Over the next few hours the bus made multiple stops. More people got on, but nobody stepped off.

We were amazed how many passengers managed to squeeze into that bus before we arrived at our destination. The bus was way beyond fully loaded. The closeness cramped our North American sense of personal space.

Growing up, we all learn about appropriate physical space.

COVID-19 has expanded our personal space even more.  Two meters is the new normal. This brings new challenges.

With Social Distancing policies in public areas we have lost what is called Personal Distance Space.  Generally, the North American sense of space suggests the following rules apply:

    Intimate Distance (touching to 45cm)

    Personal Distance (45cm to 1.2m)

    Social Distance (1.2m to 3.6m)

    Public Distance (3.7m to 4.5m)

Previously we would have conversations in public within the Personal Distance Space.There are some key reasons this is such a vital space. Here we can better hear the other person, pick up expressions and notice their eye movements in more detail. The use of handshaking was a way of appropriately entering into this Personal Distance Space in order to initiate a more personal connection.

Here are two key concerns to be aware of in the present reality:

Without the handshake we need to establish a connection without entering the Personal Distance Space.

Increased distance and masks are making it difficult to pick up the nuances of what the other person is communicating. This means we will need to ask more questions.

Listening has become more important with the loss of the visual cues.

Since public speakers are even further removed from their audiences they need to adjust in a number of ways. It may be necessary to adapt some of these techniques in order to communicate across the gap. For example:

            – our gestures may need to be more pronounced

            – be aware that our words don’t have the supporting facial expressions

            – speak more clearly, watch our tone and increase volume

            – appropriate eye contact is going to be essential

            – be more patient with each other, as we are learning to communicate in a new way

By the way, we thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The atmosphere on the bus was positive and people were enjoying themselves.

This is a reminder that it is possible to adjust to new spaces and still communicate effectively if we have the right attitude and skills.

Is your team being challenged by social distancing?

If you want to improve your communication and presentation skills, let’s talk.

We offer great team building workshops to improve your communication.

Eduardo Heinrichs

[email protected]