Gratitude, being gracious to one another – here’s how they do that at city hall – 2800 times this year.

Event 100By Pepper Parr

April 19, 2014


Most of the information that comes to Council is through reports staff create and submit to a Standing Committee.  Sometimes council members will want specific information and will issue a Staff Direction.  And on some occasions a council member will mention something they picked up along the way as they dealt with staff.

Last week Councillor Marianne Meed Ward told Council of a city program run by the Health and Wellness section of the Human Resources department that takes place once a year – usually in the Spring.

The object of the program is to create an “attitude of gratitude”. Outgoing city manager Jeff Fielding explained that the initiative grew out of the push to strengthen engagement with staff – there were a bunch of new things for them.  But the initiative came from staff.”

Each city hall department has a Wellness representative and once a year any staff member can approach the Wellness representative and ask that a “gratitudeogram” ( a word only a bureaucrat could make up) be sent to a specific person.  The sender has to write a note and give the Wellness representative a twoonie.

All the notes are collected and sent to the HR office who then order chocolate bars, hundreds of chocolate bars from Walkers Chocolate.  “The milk chocolate caramel bar is 51g, said David Walker.  It appears that the two most recent orders placed within the last 2 months were for nine 9 cases (180 bars/case). That is a total of 1620 chocolate bars

The bars get sent to the city and distributed to staff members.

Sounds a little hokey?  Perhaps,  but as Meed Ward explained the program, she sounded a little like a Girl Guide, all excited over the Cookie program she was running.

For Staff members it must seem kike Valentine’s Day at an elementary school; who got how many Valentine’s and who did they get them from?

This is the second year the program has been running.  In the first year 900 chocolate bars were distributed, this year there were 1400 chocolate bars distributed.  That means there were 2800 touch points – the sender and the receiver were each touched by the program.

Getting an award for being the Employee of the Year highlights a single person, the “gratitudeogram” is a one to one program and highlights hundreds of people.

The staff member we talked to said we could take part in the program – not sure about that – but we paused and wondered who would we want to send a note of gratitude to  – and a surprising number of names came to mind.

Sometimes the Gazette struggles with a staff member to get information for a report we are writing but far more frequently there is a “how can I help you”  response that deserves a “gratitudeogram”.

A gratitudeogram - a word only a civil servant could make up - but it works at city hall.This program highlights hundreds of people.  We asked a staff member in communications: “How many did you get, she paused and said “three. It might have been four”

We asked the Mayor how many he got – Rick Goldring said he had never heard of the program; Councillor Taylor didn’t get any either.

The program isn’t meant to be a popularity contest – just a day in the year when Staff members are given a small way to say thank you to a fellow staff member.

The cost to the employee is $2 – the chocolate bar costs $1 – the difference is goes into a fund and distributed to some worthy organization.

When we called Walkers Chocolate they weren’t able to give us total numbers right away; David Walker later said he didn’t realize there were quite that many bars going to the city.  Walker’s has a number of staff appreciation products and admitted that 1400 was quite big.

Big at the city hall staff level too.



Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.