NCC staff unhappy with 'fear, bullying'
A "sense of fear" and "bullying" are among the concerns revealed in a Nelson City Council staff survey.
The results of the internal Kenexa Best Workplace Survey have revealed an unhappy workplace as the council undergoes restructuring, including criticism of the leadership.
Council chief executive Clare Hadley last month refused a Nelson Mail request for the survey. However, the Mail has obtained a 31-page copy of the survey comments made by staff.
Mrs Hadley refused to discuss the comments, saying the survey was carried out on a confidential basis and she was obliged to respect that.
The survey asked staff to name one thing that more than anything else made the council a great place to work, and an overwhelming number of responses said "the people".
However, asked to name one thing that needed to change, the responses included "stop the bullying and remove the fear", "more trust", "take away the sense of fear that prevails at the moment", and "allowing people to do their jobs without the constant fear of being disciplined".
Comments on the leadership included "the CE and executive team need to empower staff, not intimidate them", "a CEO that can communicate effectively with staff instead of talking at them", and "with the exception of Michael Schruer, I feel that the members of the executive team (including the CEO) are very disrespectful towards staff".
Some staff were happy, with comments including "I feel more positive on how the new CEO is leading the organisation" and "Nelson City Council is a great place to work".
However, another commented: "The arrival of a CEO with a ‘my-way-or-the-highway' approach has created a huge decline in overall staff satisfaction. Staff have become increasingly disempowered as a greater number of rules have been implemented at their expense.
"We now have a staff of hard-working and dynamic individuals who are essentially gagged and afraid to say or do anything wrong. Treating staff like they should be ‘seen and not heard' is a backwards approach."
Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio said he had not seen the survey comments but he backed Mrs Hadley, saying: "She will go down as one of the best CEOs the council has employed."
Mrs Hadley began working at the council last December. Mr Miccio said she had been brought in to change the council's culture, and streamline the council to make it more efficient and save ratepayer dollars.
He dismissed the survey comments as coming from "disaffected staff", saying this was to be expected in a restructuring.
The reorganisation, to come into effect on October 14, would result in net savings of $1 million, he said.
Mr Miccio said Mrs Hadley had acted professionally and with dignity. The survey would be held again next year, and he expected the results then to show "a complete u-turn".
In the survey comments, concern was expressed about the staff code of conduct document, which one staff member said "adds to a general feeling of fear around the place. People who make mistakes generally do a great job so don't need the threat of instant dismissal over such menial things".
Another said: "Remove the culture of fear and risk avoidance that has developed recently and replace it with a culture of trust and collaboration. People do not perform at their best or enjoy their work when they are constantly afraid of doing the wrong thing."
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