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Internal CBC survey suggests workplace “psychological health” needs work

National broadcaster fails to protect employees, survey reportedly says


(Canadian OH&S News) — As the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) continues to recover from last year’s Jian Ghomeshi scandal, word has come out that the national broadcaster recently conducted an internal employee-engagement survey to measure staff perception of the working environment.

The survey followed up on CBC Workplace Investigation Regarding Jian Ghomeshi, a.k.a. the Rubin Report, an unsettling 55-page investigative report that had revealed the extent of the disgraced Q host’s consistent abuse of colleagues and the “host culture” that had allowed such inappropriate behaviour to flourish at the CBC’s Toronto headquarters (COHSN, April 21). According to a Dec. 9 press release from the CBC, the survey results were “mixed,” indicating that employees’ psychological health was a particular area of concern for the employer.

“CBC/Radio-Canada continues to lag on recognition, development and a sense of progress on the job,” the release noted. “Overall satisfaction has dropped significantly… Well-being and psychological health are of concern.”

But the CBC also said that its employees were still committed to quality work and that the organization had scored well in terms of ethics and integrity. “Pride of association remains a relative strength, despite an anticipated drop,” the release added.

Although the survey is not publicly available, the Toronto Star claimed to have obtained a copy of it in a Dec. 9 report. The survey found that 43 per cent of respondents did not consider the CBC a psychologically healthy workplace, while 29 per cent felt that the CBC did not deal effectively with situations that could harm employees, according to the Star.

Marc-Philippe Laurin — the CBC branch president for the Canadian Media Guild, the national union that represents CBC employees outside of Quebec — told COHSN that low employee morale at the broadcaster was a result of fiscal cuts and downsizing as much as it was of the Ghomeshi situation.

“It’s tough to be an employee of the CBC and keep your cheery face on when you’re faced with thousands of cuts in such a short time,” said Laurin, who cited the $150 million cut that the Stephen Harper government had imposed on the CBC in 2012.

“The Ghomeshi situation is one incident that really scarred the CBC, hurt a lot of people,” he continued. “We’ve recently had discussions with CBC management about implementation of the Rubin recommendations, where the CBC’s at. We certainly would like things to move a little faster in that respect.”

Laurin explained that the most significant action that the CBC had taken to date was to establish a phone hotline for employees to get guidance on where to direct a complaint about bullying or harassment. “But it’s not a hotline for reporting, which is one of the Rubin recommendations, that they actually have a confidential hotline for reporting incidents,” he said.

“We want to see a process set up where employees can be free, whether you’re a temp employee, a contract employee, a full-time employee, a part-time employee, but where people can feel comfortable and secure in recording incidents where they are the victim of a situation,” said Laurin, adding that such a service would also serve bystanders of incidents in which victims are reticent to report.

“We know that the CBC is currently training its managers and frontline supervisors on how to handle complaints,” noted Laurin. “We’ve been asking to have a look at this training, so we can comment on it. But so far, we haven’t seen it.”

In its press release about the survey, the CBC stated that it would continue working on employee engagement.

“Action plans are to be established by early next year,” the broadcaster said. “The goal of these plans is to build on one area of strength… with the larger intention to collectively improve our overall work environment.”