TOL: A TOXIC WORKPLACE?

Many, many emails and messages have come in over the last few weeks asking for my position on a particular matter or issue. I’ve been happy to have conversations with residents and business owners to explain what my approach might be to a problem they’re having within the Township. These topics would be familiar to any one who has attended an All-Candidates’ meeting. However, I’ve also received a couple of questions that I found concerning in a different way:

  • I have dealt with the TOL on a variety issues as well as having been privy to information during my business dealings. I would like to know what your thoughts are on the incompetence of TOL staff when dealing with permits and bureaucracy between departments. I find it very ineffective to work with the TOL as it is not pro-business. How are we going to repair the relationship between the TOL and businesses? All types of businesses. - Township Business Owner
  • This question is regarding the abuse and waste in all departments of the Township of Langley including roads, parks and TOL inspectors. I am aware over the years from personal observation and countless people who have first hand knowledge of thefts from the TOL. (3 examples provided) How are we going to clean this up so that tax dollars are not being wasted? - Township Business Owner

Yes, I took these questions and examples (not listed) at face value, because whether the facts are correct or not, it seems that TOL employees are not perceived to be doing their jobs productively, efficiently, or honestly. The real question may be more like, “How can we rebuild trust between TOL staff and the public?

Problems like the ones outlined above can be reflective of a toxic workplace culture. I believe the first step to finding out the state of the Township workplace would be to survey current and past employees, listen to their perspectives on the situation, and find out what, in their opinion, isn’t working and how it might be fixed. For example, issues that may need to be addressed include:

  • Is there an internal process for dealing with workplace complaints? Is harassment or discrimination of employees by co-workers or supervisors being ignored? Is the human resources department doing their job?
  • Are the best individuals being hired for vacant positions, or is undue influence being placed on the hiring process from other sources? Are friends and family being hired instead of more capable, qualified individuals? Could this be at the root of interdepartmental and interpersonal jealousies, inefficiencies, and rivalries?
  • Are there regular professional development opportunities for all staff? Or, is the status quo inflexible, and not open to changing practices? Are the most current technologies being used by employees? Have they been adequately trained to operate appropriate software, or machinery and tools?
  • Are there consequences for a poor work ethic? What procedures are in place to deal with dishonesty, theft, and customer complaints?

Probably, most importantly, what kind of leadership do the Mayor and Council exemplify by their actions and attitudes? Honesty, transparency, and accountability begin at the top.

When all the information has been gathered, preferably by an independent Ombudsman, it’ll be easier for problem areas to be identified.

  • Are there protocols in place that have been ignored? Is it just a matter of returning to previous policies and procedures?
  • Or, is it time for a new action plan to be budgeted, carried out, and evaluated?

If there are protocols, or training, or new hires that will result in employees doing their jobs better, more efficiently, and more honestly - that will be a better use of taxpayer dollars. It may result in shorter wait times for permits, etc., and it will certainly result in better customer relations.

It's time for honesty and integrity in Municipal government.

It's time to elect independent Councillors that will put #PeopleFirst.

On Saturday, October 20 it's time to VOTE STACEY WAKELIN for Langley Township Council.

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