Leaked employee survey shows issues with senior leadership at Island Health


A new Island Health employee engagement survey, leaked to CHEK News, paints a picture of a serious disconnect between Island Health employees and its senior leadership.

The 42-page report is the result of a survey conducted in the fall with 11,000 employees responding. While the results haven’t been made public the document highlights a feeling among staff that the organization doesn’t view health and safety as important, doesn’t recognize or value employee contributions and is lacking in communication.

The BC Nurses Union says it isn’t surprised by the survey and adds that you’d see similar results from any health authority in the province.

“Our nurses are feeling very disrespected by the employers. Lack of support, heavy workloads and just the recognition for what nurses have been doing throughout the entire pandemic, the opioid crisis as well as the staffing crisis,” said BCNU President Aman Grewal.

READ MORE: B.C. will help pay for former and international nurses to relieve staffing shortage, burnout

Less than half agreed that Island Health cares about the well-being of its employees, and even fewer (35 per cent) agreed that communication between senior leaders and employees is open and honest.

When asked if employees receive recognition for doing a good job, only 32 per cent agreed.

“Some of the major issues faced by employees include: Heavy workloads with little perceived support, a lack of recognition and most of all, a perception among many that the organization does not care about their well-being,” reads one excerpt from the report.

“Many employees lay their issues directly at the feet of senior leadership. Often this is due to a lack of visibility and a perceived lack of empathy – a general feeling that senior leadership makes decisions without consideration of the front-line impact. While this is rarely true, employees’ perception is their reality,” it reads on page 17.

The head of Island Health says she’s grateful for the feedback, that the employees have been heard and that change starts at the top.

“I’m taking this very seriously, I feel very accountable,” said Island Health CEO Kathy MacNeil.  “Culture starts at the top so this information will really inform our work with respect to culture.”

“I’m proud of this organization, I’m grateful to the people who’ve spoken and I’m committed to making things change.”

MacNeil says there are several initiatives already underway to improve health, safety and morale for staff and similar surveys will be taken over the next few years to measure whether those interventions are having the desired impact.

The survey did find some high levels of satisfaction. 92 per cent say they really want Island Health to succeed, 59 per cent say they feel proud to be part of Island Health, and 83 per cent say they strongly believe in Island Health’s values and vision: Excellent health and care for everyone, everywhere, every time.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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