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Lacombe County moves to improve workplace

Lacombe County has declared January as ‘Respectful Workplace’ month.

Lacombe County has declared January as ‘Respectful Workplace’ month.

This event will be a yearly opportunity to highlight the County’s commitment to creating a vibrant, healthy, safe and caring work environment.

County Commissioner Terry Hager said the event will serve as an opportunity for staff to reflect on how they contribute to the work environment and perhaps think of ways they may be able to improve it.

“It bring awareness to our staff,” said Hager. “Whenever we can make efforts to make the workplace better and make Lacombe County better we take advantage of them.”

The announcement coincides with a decision by Council to formally adopt a Respectful Workplace Policy at their Nov. 8, 2013 meeting. Hager said that, while the resolution was passed in November, with the holiday season getting in the way, this January was the fi rst opportunity the County has had to hold the Respectful Workplace Event.

This new policy not only places responsibility on County employees, council and other public representatives but also on the greater public to ensure that Lacombe County is a respectful workplace, stated a release from Lacombe County.

Hager said that the policy is not actually completely new, it is an updating of a former policy. Prior to last November, the particulars now covered by the Respectful Workplace Policy were covered by the County’s health and safety policies and had already existed for 10 or so years.

As a municipality, the County interacts with a number of external individuals and groups during its day-to-day business and service activities. Therefore, it is important to expand the scope of this policy to provide employees with an environment in which all people are treated fairly and with respect.

Hager said a few improvements have been made with the new policy including a more proactive approach to a positive work environment.

“The previous (policy) dealt with a lot of things dealing with conflicts in the workplace as opposed to being a little more proactive in terms of respect.”

While the policy outlines practices that most good, responsible employees and employers do anyway, Hager said it never hurts to be reminded of what those practices are.

“What I think it does is bring a bit of a focus to it,” said Hager. “It’s a bit of a general reminder to everybody that when we are out there, from time to time, we may get focused on exactly what we are doing and become so job-orientated that we may forget about how we are treating others.”

At its most basic level, the policy is about improving Lacombe County, said Hager.

“We just want to make Lacombe County a better place to work and a better place to be.”

Members of the public; contractors, suppliers, etc., will all be responsible for their role in ensuring a respectful workplace for everyone involved and if inappropriate behaviours occur, the policy will provide the County an opportunity to take appropriate action. This could include barring the person from County facilities or discontinuing business with contractors or suppliers.

Throughout the remainder of January, County employees will have the opportunity to participate in activities to learn about the policy and have a continued voice in the discussion of what a respectful workplace means to them.