Rethinking ways to salvage top-end talent

Executive exhaustion alert

Have sympathy for the boss. The era of executive exhaustion is upon us.

It is fair to say that pity is tough to muster for those up the pay grade with the privileges and the prime parking spot. But research is showing that those leaders are spent, stressed and suffering. Their influence, though, means their problems are everyone’s.

Human nature is such that people can be told to use their oxygen mask first in a troubled airplane yet many will still try first to assist those they deem in less advantaged straits. This appears to have been the general case for the C-suite in COVID: they showered greater attention to those they were leading and had less attention left to take care of themselves. It hasn’t worked out.

The result two-and-a-half years into the pandemic is a senior leadership that feels drained, contending with physical and mental health challenges, and alone and unsupported.

More than a year ago, Deloitte Canada and LifeWorks Research Group (formerly known as Morneau Shepell) surveyed a large Canadian cohort of 1,200 leaders and found four-fifths of them were fatigued, almost all said their mental health and well-being had declined in the pandemic and half were ready to either pack it in or drastically cut their commitments.

A year later, says Deloitte executive adviser Zabeen Hirji, there is little reason to believe those numbers would have improved.

“The headline here for businesses is that this is not sustainable,” she says.

If 2020 and 2021 were rough waters, it’s not as if 2022 has been smooth sailing, what with inflation, borrowing cost increases, supply chain snafus, labour shortages and the Russian invasion of Ukraine layering on the sheer insecurity and impact of the coronavirus, the restructuring of how and where many of us work and the physical restrictions and their social implications.

I accept this study’s credibility from experience and attest to what I have seen among business leaders in this community. The weariness took some time to strike.

The urgency and uncertainty in those early months hit people differently – as in how soon, how severe, not if but when – and managers were called upon in ways they’d never been. Some, as I sensed it, didn’t take sufficient care of themselves to be the best leaders for others. They didn’t adhere to a leadership principle that you could only be a strong leader if you ensured you were strong, period.

Hirji sees no choice but to fix what ails the leader: “If they’re not healthy … then the quality of their decisions will suffer.”

Rather than take another study that would likely find the same characteristics, Deloitte and LifeWorks instead unfurled a playbook last week that boards would be wise to digest for the operational chiefs they guide.

The first step: there is a deep need to suffocate the stigma about mental health and acknowledge that even at the top, sometimes even more at the top, most everyone is susceptible to stretches of psychological challenges.

The place to start is with managers themselves, because the study found four in 10 had a “self-stigma” about accepting, even acknowledging, their mental health challenges. Likely that’s in part because more than half feared that would be costly to their careers. Thus the need for companies to create workspaces of psychological safety, to invest in training and resources and to recognize the value of leaders discussing vulnerabilities.

The second area is a more challenging one, because it calls upon a dropping of the dukes in exchange for a buddy system – peer support in place of careerist combat – as a method to restore productivity and well-being. In many instances (thankfully not the one I occupy), this requires a change in the ultra-competitive, zero-sum-gamesmanship of workplace politics.

One would think that collaborative survivalism would be self-evident by now, but I talk to many managers who say they feel more distant and distrusting and resentful of their colleagues, so their situations and likely many others remain worrisome and will be difficult to unpack.

The most profound recommendations concern the response to the pandemic executive with one foot out the door, because they call for a rethinking of work to salvage the talent at the top. This is a great objective in principle, a formidable task in practice.

For most every firm, this requires a reconsideration of time management that on the surface takes your best-rewarded talent and demands less – less presence, less facetime, less bossiness, if you will – in the hope you eventually get more. It requires delegation and a relinquishing of power, difficult to do when the pandemic itself has left many managers feeling as if they have lost control and no longer have as many answers.

It would feel risky at first to entrench as permanent and not just pandemic-era the shortened meetings with fewer participants, the designated me-time to recharge and the commitment to flexibility on where and how work is conducted.

That wasn’t the archetype the corporate world created. Given the research, though, what other choice is there?

Kirk LaPointe is publisher and editor-in-chief of Business In Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.

A toast to new federal program to support wine industry

Raise a glass to the feds

The past two years have been tough on the Okanagan wine industry but the new Wine Sector Support Program from the federal government provides much-needed and timely relief.

Across our region in recent years, wine growers have experienced dramatic declines in revenue, suspended production, laid-off employees, seen hospitality and tourism suffer, handled inflation and supply chain problems, managed the vagaries of weather, and of course, faced increased competition from internationally subsidized wines.

These challenges have impacted the livelihoods of farmers, distributors, truck drivers, warehouse workers and countless others connected to the wine value chain in our area and across Ontario.

With the future of the wine industry at stake, the federal support program will ensure our industry will not just survive but thrive in the years ahead. That’s good news for the Okanagan Valley and for Canadian consumers who enjoy our products.

The Wine Sector Support Program provides $166 million over two years in direct, non-repayable support funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. All wine producers, whether they use grapes, fruit, rice, dandelions or sap are eligible to apply and I encourage all my colleagues to submit your applications before the Aug. 12 deadline.

I also encourage the public in joining me in thanking the MPs and senior federal officials who worked so hard to bring this program to life. Canadian wineries compete with the world, and our vineyards stretch from the mountains of B.C. to the farmlands of Ontario and Quebec, and the coasts of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI.

Local representatives from all political parties are big boosters of our work, and without their support, and the recognition of our value by the federal government, this program would not have come to fruition.

In this county, and across British Columbia, we are lucky to have many MPs in our corner.

Specifically, I want to raise a glass to our local Okanagan MPs Tracy Gray, Richard Cannings, Dan Albas, and Mel Arnold, as well as federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Support for Canadian wine is a non-partisan issue that grows our local and national economy, and we can all agree it’s worthy of the recently announced support.

Canadian wine is a homegrown success story. From grapes to glass, Canadian wine is rooted in Canadian soil, but is also the anchor for the Okanagan’s emerging culinary tourism experiences, cultivating terroir and taste-of-place destinations, attracting investments and driving rural development.

The Wine Sector Support Program comes at a time when Canadians are facing high inflation and rising costs, but this program means we can continue to make high-quality products, without needing to add more costs and pass them onto our consumers.

For this we applaud the federal government for delivering on its commitment to support the long-term success of the Canadian wine and grape industry.

A healthy and vibrant wine value chain will play an important role in ensuring Canada’s post-pandemic recovery. Thanks to the leadership of the federal government, Canada’s wine industry is ready to grow back stronger.

All of that means wine lovers, Canadian small businesses and everyone in Canada have a great reason this summer to toast the future success of our industry under this new support program.

Tony Stewart is the chair of the Canadian Vintners Association and CEO of Quails’ Gate Estate Winery.

Court's decision leaves security of anonymity for the press and the public unclear

Court rules against the press

A journalist’s protection of a source is vital for the public interest.

Many crime victims and whistleblowers would not step forward with sensitive information without a commitment to shield their identities. When they have well-placed fears of the consequences of speaking out, it requires the security of anonymity.

But a new ruling on this issue in the British Columbia Supreme Court, upheld by the B.C. Court of Appeal, ought to worry journalists, their organizations, their sources and the general public.

The ruling relates to the trial of former Vancouver Canucks player Jake Virtanen, found not guilty in the last week of sexual assault. Before Virtanen was charged early this year, before he was the object of a civil suit in 2021, a woman stepped forward and told her story to Glacier Media reporter Alanna Kelly.

Theirs was a common pact in journalism. She and Kelly had every expectation that their communications, even their recorded video conversation, would conceal her identity. Our position was and is that the unpublished recorded exchange was no different than if Kelly had taken notes. It needed to be protected.

After all, the 2017 federal Journalistic Sources Protection Act was expressly created within criminal law to allow “journalists to not disclose information or a document that identifies or is likely to identify a journalistic source unless the information or document cannot be obtained by any other reasonable means and the public interest in the administration of justice outweighs the public interest in preserving the confidentiality of the journalistic source.”

For his trial, Virtanen’s counsel asked for, and was granted access to, not only the video of the conversation but Kelly’s email and text exchanges with the complainant and her lawyer. The B.C. Supreme Court judge, Catherine Wedge, concluded that these were important for his access to a fair trial and that the impact on press freedom would be “minimal.”

We strongly disagree.

This is a troubling new roadblock on the rights of journalists to research in confidence many of our most delicate issues, particularly crimes and abuse of power. The implications for society are profound.

While it is true that many sources provide errant information, some of the most significant journalism of our age has been due to credible sources providing important information that would otherwise not surface.

It is reasonable to ask now: Why would any source step forward with information if we cannot protect their identities?

The appellate court upheld Justice Wedge’s order and Virtanen’s defence counsel used in court what had been chronicled and considered at that time to be a privileged discussion.

This dual onus in the 2017 law – to look everywhere else to build your legal argument, and for that argument to outweigh the public interest of preserving confidentiality – should be a strong check on casual warrants and other means to break the journalist-source relationship. Even though the new law on the surface accords considerable protection of confidential informants, the B.C. courts decided that in this case, the rights of the accused outweighed those of the journalist – and by extension, the source.

Given that the law is new, it hasn’t been tested with many cases to define its place in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Glacier Media has sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. We are awaiting the high court’s decision on whether to entertain the case, which would be the law’s most significant test yet.

Journalists and the public need to know the ground rules for information sources in this country.

We and others have argued, and courts have sometimes asserted, that an accused ought to exhaust all other avenues of gaining information before turning to a journalist’s material from a source.

In Virtanen’s case, we were unsuccessful in persuading the court that there were other ways to gain what the defence wanted. Instead, we were ordered to disclose. And that is where the new line was drawn that could, left unchanged, haunt case after case to come.

To leave this case to stand, the state has inserted itself into the relationship between journalist and source despite the 2017 protections. Our reasonable expectation of privacy in newsgathering is damaged, as it will be now for others who depend on confidential sources of information to bring their stories forward.

Which is not to say those stories are given legal immunity. Far from it. They already have to stand up against laws of defamation or national security. But it is fair to say now we can expect far fewer of them to be told if sources know their identities, conversations and exchanges are no longer shielded.

The law prevented us from writing about this matter until the Virtanen case concluded. The proceedings, even the pre-trial ones involving the decisions on evidence, were the subject of statutory publication bans.

We hope the public will understand the impact of this decision and agree that the consequences are dire for the craft of journalism if the high court does not address these concerns.

Kirk LaPointe is publisher and editor-in-chief of BIV and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.

How to best manage chronic diseases

Managing chronic diseases

Chronic diseases, broadly defined as persistent health conditions, are a pressing health concern for many Canadians.

Nearly half (44%) of Canadians over the age of 20 have at least one chronic disease, with cancer, heart disease and stroke being the three most common conditions. Chronic diseases directly impact an individual’s quality of life and can have a detrimental effect on their overall health.

Chronic Disease Day was recently marked and now is an important opportunity to raise awareness around chronic diseases and their impact on the daily lives of Canadians. It’s challenging to live with a chronic disease, and as a Kelowna pharmacist, I am here to help you manage your chronic conditions. Many Canadians can self-manage their symptoms and maintain independence with support from their health care team.

There are many risk factors that can contribute to the onset of a chronic disease, and while some of these factors cannot be controlled, like age, sex and genetic make-up, we can decrease our chances of developing a chronic disease by implementing some lifestyle changes.i

Your local pharmacist is here to support chronic disease management, including:

• Personalized care plan – While many chronic conditions can be managed with medication, there are also non-pharmacological interventions that can be used to help improve symptoms of chronic conditions. Some of these interventions can include changing your diet and exercise habits. Pharmacists are knowledgeable members of your health care team who can work with you to identify additional approaches alongside medication and can help you develop a personalized care plan based on your unique situation.

• Medication reviews – Medication is a common treatment for chronic diseases. It is important to always remember to use any medication correctly as irregular use can lead to the worsening of chronic disease symptoms. Your local pharmacist is a great resource if you are finding any difficulty in maintaining a regular medication routine. Pharmacists can conduct medication reviews to assess the correct frequency and dosages for your medications and work with you to address any challenges in maintaining appropriate use. Your pharmacist can also provide tips and tools, such as blister packs and reminder apps, which can make it easier to stay on schedule with your medication.

• Diabetes management – One in three Canadians has diabetes or prediabetes, a staggering rate that continues to rise. It is easy for individuals with diabetes to feel overwhelmed, since the diagnosis often means making significant lifestyle changes, including diet adjustments, and learning how to monitor and administer insulin. As new diabetes medications continue to come to market, it can be difficult to know which ones are necessary and beneficial in your situation. As part of your health care team, pharmacists are qualified resources to answer questions, provide practical recommendations and guide you through treatment options to find what works best for you. If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, visit https://www.shoppersdrugmart.ca/en/store-locator to find your nearest pharmacy and call to discuss your diabetes with a pharmacist.

While chronic diseases can’t be cured, they can be managed through a range of treatment options. Visit your local pharmacist to learn how they can help you manage your chronic condition.

Nathan Klaassen is a pharmacist and owner of a Shoppers Drug Mart in Kelowna.

Opinion: Crime, public safety still major concerns for British Columbians

Crime concerns in B.C.

When Research Co. and Glacier Media last gauged the views of British Columbians on crime in November 2021, 63 per cent of the province’s residents told us that they would feel “safe” walking alone in their own neighbourhood after dark.

Almost half (48 per cent feared becoming delinquency victims in their community and about one in five (19 per cent acknowledged having to report a crime to the police, such as an assault or a break-in.

Earlier this month, and with municipal elections looming, the perceptions of residents on these three questions did not budge: 63 per cent of British Columbians would still feel secure wandering about at night, 48 per cent remain afraid of crime affecting their lives and 18 per cent (down one point) had to file a report with the police.

Last June, only six per cent of British Columbians mentioned crime and public safety as the most important issue facing the province. There are four more pressing concerns for residents: the environment (12 per cent), the economy and jobs (also 12 per cent), health care (18 per cent) and, overwhelmingly, housing, poverty and homelessness (39 per cent).

On one of the questions we track, the views of British Columbians have become more negative, going against official statistics. More than half of British Columbians (51 per cent) believe the level of criminal activity in their community has increased over the past four years, up seven points since November 2021. Two groups lead the way in having these feelings. Majorities of women (55 per cent) and British Columbians aged 55 and over (57 per cent) think crime is worse now than in 2018.

Perceptions of worsening public safety are down in Vancouver Island (from 54 per cent seven months ago to 51 per cent now). All other areas of the province saw increases on this question: southern B.C. at 62 per cent (up nine points), northern B.C. at 51 per cent (up seven points), Metro Vancouver at 49 per cent (up eight points) and the Fraser Valley at 45 per cent (up six points).

For a majority of British Columbians (51 per cent, up three points), addiction and mental health issues are to blame “a great deal” for the current state of affairs related to criminal activity in the province. Fewer residents direct their frustration at gangs and the illegal drug trade (37 per cent, down one point), poverty and inequality (32 per cent, up one point), an inadequate court system (also 32 per cent, up two points), lack of values and an improper education for youth (27 per cent, unchanged), bad economy and unemployment (24 per cent, up four points), insufficient policing and a lack of resources to combat crime (22 per cent up two points) and immigrants and minorities (eight per cent, down one point).

Shortly after the federal government introduced new gun control legislation, sizable proportions of British Columbians continue to endorse two measures to curb criminal activity in their municipality: banning military-style assault weapons (82 per cent, down two points) and banning handguns (75 per cent, down four points).

This month, we also asked British Columbians about three ideas that have been outlined over the past few months. In late April, an all-party special committee in the legislative assembly issued its report on Reforming the Police Act. One of its 11 recommendations was establishing a B.C.-wide police force that would replace the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The province’s residents are divided on this prospect, with 39 per cent agreeing with the creation of a new province-wide police force, 38 per cent disagreeing and 23 per cent undecided. Support for this proposal is highest in northern B.C. (45 per cent, followed by the Fraser Valley (43 per cent, Vancouver Island (also 43 per cent, Metro Vancouver (40 per cent and southern B.C. (26 per cent).

The notion of “defunding the police” – divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support – has become a topic of discussion in several cities across the United States. At this point, almost half of British Columbians (49 per cent agree with this concept – with support surging to 61 per cent among those aged 18 to 34 and to 66 per cent among BC Green Party voters in the last provincial election.

The most popular of the three ideas is increasing the use of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in communities as a means of surveillance to help deter and solve crimes. Seven in 10 British Columbians (70 per cent) agree with this concept, a proportion that rises to 79 per cent among BC Liberal voters in 2020.

Our latest survey shows a province where most residents have not experienced crime firsthand and where feelings about local safety are unchanged. Still, perceptions about a worsening situation are on the rise and residents are open to proposals. At this point, the enhanced presence of cameras on our streets is providing a level of comfort that is not matched by the promise of a provincewide police force or the reallocation of funds to non-policing community support.

Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.

Results are based on an online study conducted from July 4 to July 6, 2022, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error, which measures sample variability, is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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