How One Organization is Responding to Workplace Incivility

February 27, 2019 | News

Home to more than 700 seniors, Abbotsford’s Menno Place offers a full range of housing and long-term care options—from independent living to residential complex care. On February 27, Trish Giesbrecht, Manager of Care at Menno, will be a panelist on a webinar hosted by SafeCare BC that will discuss the concept of incivility in the workplace, and strategies for staff and leaders on how to create better work environments. We spoke to Trish about the work Menno is doing.

Why is workplace incivility a priority for Menno Place?
We have been focused on the mental health of our staff, and last year we had staff do a psychological safety survey. It was an eye-opening experience, because it let us know where we stood as an organization. We realized that within our organization there were areas where there was a lot of incivility, and we needed to do something about it. It’s not where we want to be as an organization.

What are some steps you’ve taken?
It’s a huge task shifting culture, so we had figure out what we could accomplish in the short term and begin addressing some of the underlying issues that leads to workplace incivility. We now ensure that managers are attending the team meetings and have more of a presence. We encourage managers to engage staff in huddles and to find those coaching moments, and to provide a safe space for people to talk. If someone wants to vent, I tell them to vent to me. The staff need to have ownership in changing the culture, and often it’s about basic communication skills, and building trust with the team, so they can engage in conversation about the work environment.

What were some of the underlying issues causing some of the incivility?
There are a lot of parallels between incivility and mental health and emotional intelligence. Because of this, we have an intentional focus on improving the mental health of our staff. We have more mental health resources and we encourage staff to utilize the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP).

Have you noticed any changes over the past year?
We’ve made some progress. I have seen a genuine collaboration between management and the union. Shop stewards have come to us to see how we can work together and create a shared vision. The union and management have the same goal and we are sharing resources. The conversation is changing. Instead of people saying, that’s how it’s always been, people are now saying, maybe that’s not how it should be. It’s a long process, but I am excited by the momentum and energy.