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Morinville shakes up workforce to save money

Five senior town staff fired amid organizational changes
morinville town hall stk CC 5251

Morinville’s top employee sacked five people last week as part of a plan to give front-line workers more freedom to do their jobs. 

The Town of Morinville released a statement Jan. 15 saying that it had made organizational changes that “included the release of some staff, the reassignment of some staff, and the creation of new roles.” 

Town chief administrative officer Stephane Labonne said these changes came out of an organizational review he had started last September. These changes were meant to save the town money, make town services more responsive to residents, and give senior leadership more time to focus on strategic issues, he said.

“I started to realize there were some gaps in our organization,” he said.

Labonne said he fired five people, including director of corporate services Shawna Jason and manager of engineering and facilities Jim Gourlay, and shuffled several others into new positions. Labonne said he plans to fill at least two of these five now-vacant positions, with additional changes coming after this year's municipal election. 

“This was never a cost-cutting exercise,” he said, explaining the aim was to ensure the right people were in the right jobs, and that there were understudies in place for people with critical roles. 

Senior management was getting too involved in nitty-gritty issues that could be better resolved by front-line workers that knew what they were doing, Labonne said. 

He cited one case where an employee had to add lights to a dark stairwell. The staffer knew the best course of action – string LEDs under the handrail – but had to run his plan by senior management, which led to a whole bunch of wasted effort looking into scaffolding and potentially cutting holes for pot lamps. 

“(The employee) knew the right solution. He just wasn’t confident or given the authority to make that decision,” Labonne said. With the changes, he said front-line workers will now have the freedom to make low-risk, low-cost operational decisions without running those changes by their immediate bosses.  

“The staff that are doing the work know where it can be more efficient and more effective, but we’ve done a poor job in the past of actually asking and empowering them to make those decisions.” 

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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