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May 2, 2012 / mike54martin

A Human Resource Disaster

Whatever you feel about the federal government’s recent cuts to federal public service jobs there is no doubt that their handling of the people side, the Human Resource, portion of this exercise has been a disaster. How bad has it been? If you have been on the inside it’s pretty effin bad.

First of all you have to picture yourself as a federal public service employee. You have been conscientiously going about your work while storm clouds have been gathering above your head. You have an employer, the Conservative Government, which actively makes a point of not telling you, ever, that you are doing a good job or that they appreciate your efforts. In fact they go out of their way to blame, denigrate and generally stereotype you and your colleagues as being a drain on the public purse.

Secondly you have learned to keep your mouth shut. You realized long ago that they did not want your ideas, your suggestions, or any information that you possessed that could help them make a decision. They especially hated the information piece. You saw what happened to anyone who stuck their head up out of the foxhole from senior foreign affairs advisers to the Chief Statistician of Canada to the head of Nuclear Safety, for Gawd’s sake!! They were soon no longer there.

Thirdly you have been watching all of the debate and discussion by the political parties and the media about how deep the cuts would, should or will be. Everyone in your section and department watched for any signal you could be next. This went on for an agonizing year and then the cuts started coming in waves like capelin on the beach in Newfoundland. You survived each round of cuts and were still swimming. Battered and emotionally bruised but still swimming. Until you heard the news that you have survived. For now.

But this is the just the beginning salvo and you can expect these types of cuts again next year as the program review kicks into gear. And maybe again in the year after. You, and tens of thousands of others are left dazed, confused, sad, and angry.

Now imagine that you are a manager in the federal public service. You have a section to look after in a large department. You do not make widgets or manufacture stuff. Your natural resources are your people. You have just witnessed what has been described above happen over and over and over again to your staff. Yes, you still have a team. But it is much smaller with the same amount of work and now the team members are totally devastated and demoralized.

What can you say to them? Things will get better? I don’t think so. We’ll be okay? You can’t say that for sure.

You know what you say to your people. I am sorry that these bastards treated you and our team this way. Let’s find a way to work together and stay tight. That’s our only defense.

So where does that leave the federal public service? In disarray, in desperation and absolutely demoralized. Good luck in getting them re-motivated to serve Canadians.

But maybe that’s the point. The Conservatives Human Resource policy is to demoralize people so that they will quit before they fire them. As a political strategy it is cruel, mean and inhumane. As a Human Resource policy it is a disaster.

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and workplace wellness consultant.


Leave a Comment
  1. Michael MacDonald / May 2 2012 3:40 pm

    I really like your closing point that a possible aim is to demoralize people so they will quit. It is not unheard of in the past. Consider the many state enterprises that have been in existence; provincially and federally. In Nova Scotia two examples were Sydney Steel and DEVCO. Here was a provincial and federal crown corporation being run by governments that held no belief in state run enterprises. The end result? Neither exists today. I am sure there are many more recent examples but the mind set is the same as you mention. Excellent essay!

  2. Kitty Kilian (@KittyKilian) / May 2 2012 7:03 pm

    The Conservatives Human Resource policy is to demoralize people so that they will quit before they fire them – REALLY?

    Well, yes, it makes sense. It must be a worldwide trend.

    I hate to say it, but that gray haired fellow with the large beard predicted all of it over 100 years ago.. in German too..


  1. Public Servants Are Being Treated Horribly | Ottawa Citizen

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