Sowing seeds of possibilities - Public Service Renewal Report 2016

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Blueprint 2020: A world-class Public Service equipped to serve Canada and Canadians, now and in the future.


Renewal at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Renewal at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Let's talk leadership - Renewal at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The Leadership – Continuing the Conversation workshop inspired the creation of a set of Leadership Conversation Starters. The cards were used at the 2016 Interdepartmental Innovation Fair event to help stimulate conversation.

Visit our Leadership and Continuous Improvement Tools page to download your Leadership Conversation Starters. Take 5 minutes out of your next staff meeting and let's talk leadership.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is pleased to provide its 2016 progress report on Public Service Renewal. Built on the foundation of its efforts towards the Blueprint 2020 vision, AAFC shifted its focus in 2016 from one of a special project mindset to one of intrinsic behaviour. To that end, the Department strengthened two organizational cultures: leadership and continuous improvement.

Changes in behaviour begin with awareness. In recognizing our strengths and challenges, AAFC identified actions that are required at three levels:

  • The individual level - empowering employees; creating leaders at all levels
  • The relationship level - swaying each other within our spheres of influence
  • The organizational level - departmental leadership, with senior managers leading by example

Throughout this report, you will find elements that speak to each of these levels of involvement. The "let's talk leadership" bubbles challenge individuals to reflect on an idea or question and empower them to act. The "create time and space" features serve as suggestions for all of us to make room to nurture the relationships we have with one another. The stories throughout the report provide a synopsis of the actions of the Department to date.

Renewal at AAFC is not a big bang, but rather a series of incremental changes. The actions taken on the individual, relationship, and organizational levels are intertwined. In the spirit of continuous improvement, we seek inspiration from others and build on their experiences.

We encourage you build on our experiences, as they are seeds of possibilities.

Building a culture of leadership at all levels

Continuous improvement Building a culture of leadership at all levels

Continuous Improvement Cards provide users with handy reminders and tips to follow in every step of the continuous improvement process.

Visit our Leadership and Continuous Improvement Tools to download your Continuous Improvement Cards.

Create time and space; Make the connection.

Leadership exists at all levels. As part of AAFC's efforts to build a culture of leadership, the Department launched an interactive workshop called Leadership - Continuing the Conversation. Over 300 employees, managers, and senior managers gathered to:

  • provide feedback on the Department's plans on supporting a culture of leadership;
  • identify how they fit into the plan; and
  • describe how they can contribute to and improve their own leadership.

As part of the workshop, participants established a personal plan for implementing change with the support of their peers. Peer support is key to accountability, building trust/relationships, and sharing ideas to help each other succeed.

Keys to success

  • Make time for people to discuss things openly.
  • Create safe spaces for discussion.
  • Discuss with a purpose.
  • Focus on areas of personal control and influence.

Client service excellence

Create time and space Client service excellence

Enlist your team in keeping you accountable. Make time for reflection.

One of the drivers behind AAFC's public service renewal efforts is its commitment to service excellence to Canadians and the agricultural sector. By instilling a culture of continuous improvement, AAFC constantly assesses its actions to ensure that it remains responsive and anticipates the needs of the sector.

Watch to see how AAFC's client service and interaction are evolving to keep up with technologies and clients' needs.

Video transcript

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music rises.]

[A colourful flash reveals a male Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada employee smiling to camera.]

[Cut to a female employee laughing and smiling at something off screen.]

Female employee: We are agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

[Cut to a close up shot of a male employee wearing a suit and tie. He is smiling to camera.]

Male employee: We are Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

[Cut to a close up shot of a female employee smiling to camera.]

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

[Cut to a shot of a female employee. She is laughing at something off screen then looks to camera and smiles.]

Female employee: We are Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

[Cut to a close up shot of a male employee looking directly to camera with a slight smile on his face.]

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

[Cut to a shot of a male employee wearing a sport jacket and an open collared shirt.]

Male employee: We are a service organization…

[Cut to a close up of a male employee wearing a grey suit with a colourful pocket square.]

Female employee: We are a service organization…

[Cut to a close up shot of a female employee with long, light brown hair and a pink dress. She looks up to camera and smiles.]

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

Female employee: We are a service organization and we take pride in what we do.

[A colourful flash hides the female employee and reveals the title of the video.]

Text on screen: Client Service Excellence: It's Everybody's Business

[A colourful flash hides the title and reveals an aerial shot of an expansive wheat field.]

[Cut to a shot of a female employee speaking directly to camera.]

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

Female employee: We are here to provide support…

[Cut to a shot of a different female employee speaking directly to camera.]

Different female employee: …to both our clients and our colleagues.

[Cut to a shot of a local producer standing in front of his fresh produce. He is smiling.]

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

[Cut to a shot of a male employee speaking directly to camera.]

Male employee: We are committed to delivering high quality service…

[Cut to a shot of a female employee speaking directly to camera.]

Female employee: … because we understand the importance of agriculture to our economy…

[Cut to a shot of a different female employee speaking directly to camera.]

Different female employee: …communities…

[Cut to a shot of a different female employee speaking directly to camera.]

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

Different female employees: …environment…

[Cut to a shot of a male employee speaking directly to camera.]

Male employee: …and human health.

[Cut to a close up shot of mature wheat blowing in the wind.]

[A colourful flash hides the wheat field and reveals the next title in the video.]

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

Text on screen: Why is good client service important?

[A colourful flash hides the title and reveals the interior of an active greenhouse.]

[Cut to a tracking shot of a female scientist working inside an active greenhouse.]

Male employee: We have a long and noble history.

[Cut to a man standing in front of a lake in Summerland, British Colombia. He is speaking slightly off camera.]

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

My research centre just celebrated its 100th anniversary, one hundred years of excellence and innovation in agriculture.

[Cut to a series of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists all smiling to camera.]

Our researchers have been serving and will continue to serve local farmers and industry with pride.

[A colourful flash hides the image of the scientist and reveals a man sitting at his desk and filing out a form.]

Male employee: Our clients are businesses…

[Cut to the same man standing outside and speaking slightly off camera.]

…and us getting them what they're looking for quickly will help them carry on…

[Cut to a man pushing a cart with plastic baskets filled with fresh cucumbers down the middle of a row of plants inside an industrial greenhouse.]

…their business in a timely way as well.

[Cut to the same man standing on top of a small life within the same row of plants. We can see the expansive greenhouse behind him.]

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

[A colourful flash hides the image of the man in the greenhouse and reveals a female rancher tending to her herd on horseback.]

Female employee: Client service is not just about service.

[Cut to a shot of a female employee standing in an office with cubicles. She is speaking slightly off camera.]

It's about building good relationships, making the connections and doing that with tenacity and integrity. And above all, you're going the extra mile.

[A colourful flash hides the image of the woman speaking to camera and reveals the next title in the video.]

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

Text on screen: You may serve clients directly…

[A colourful flash hides the title and reveals a new one.]

Text on screen: You may serve colleagues who serve clients…

[A colourful flash hides the title and reveals a new one.]

Text on screen: Everybody serves a client.

[A colourful flash hides the title and reveals a female employee speaking to camera.]

Text on screen: Client-focused

Female employee: We take the time to understand the needs of our clients and colleagues.

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

[Cut to a shot of a different female employee speaking directly to camera.]

Text on screen: Helpful

Female employee: We provide assistance and reduce unnecessary burden placed on our clients.

[Cut to a shot of a male employee speaking directly to camera.]

Text on screen: Accountable

Male employee: We are accountable to our clients, ourselves, our colleagues.

[Cut to a shot of a male employee speaking directly to camera.]

Text on screen: Accountable

Male employee: We serve the agricultural sector and we're accountable to the Canadian public.

[Cut to a shot of a female employee speaking directly to camera.]

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

Text on screen: Respectful

Female employee: We demonstrate respect to both our clients and colleagues.

[Cut to a shot of a different female employee speaking directly to camera.]

Text on screen: Timely

Female employee: We provide timely and courteous services to our clients and colleagues.

[Cut to a shot of a different female employee speaking directly to camera.]

Text on screen: Accurate

Female employee: We provide information that is accurate…

[Cut to a shot of a male employee speaking directly to camera.]

Text on screen: Accessible

Male employee: …accessible…

[Cut to a shot of a female employee speaking directly to camera.]

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music continues.]

Text on screen: Up-to-date

Female employee: …and up-to-date.

[Cut to a close up shot of the back of the shirt of an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada employee. The camera focuses on the departmental signature.]

Female employee: At AAFC…

[Cut to a longer shot of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada employee. We can now see that she is standing next to a fence and a herd of cattle.]

…we are dedicated to making a continual effort to improve our services.

[A colourful flash hides the image of the woman with the herd of cattle and reveals the last title of the video.]

[Cut to the animated Canada wordmark. The copyright notice also appears.]

Text on screen: Canada. © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2016)

[Upbeat, vibrant and uplifting music fades out.]

[Fade to black.]

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Respectful Workplace

Fostering a Respectful Workplace

Let's talk leadership - Fostering a Respectful Workplace

How do you show respect for diverse perspectives in the workplace?

Today's leaders are responsible for solving an unprecedented challenge: up to five generations are working side-by-side in their workforce. Each generation brings its own life stage, communication preferences, priorities, expectations and more.

Policies and procedures cannot cover every possible scenario or interaction in the workplace. It is the corporate culture that provides the most effective guidance on desired behaviours. As part of AAFC's executives' corporate commitments, senior managers all have a role in promoting a healthy, inclusive and respectful work environment. Creating a respectful workplace doesn't happen by chance.

No matter how different our cultural and generational norms may be, AAFC's values and ethics serve as a compass for expected behaviours and attitudes in maintaining a respectful workplace.

Highlights

May is diversity and inclusiveness month

AAFC hosted its inaugural Diversity and Inclusiveness Month this year. It featured over 25 activities and guest speakers on:

  • Indigenous culture
  • Hearing awareness
  • Challenges faced by persons with disabilities
  • Workplace Wellness Awareness Sessions
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender Awareness Sessions
  • Women in Science Speaker Panel
  • Maintaining a healthy work-life balance featuring female scientists from across the country
  • Multicultural Potluck and Traditional Dress Day
  • AAFC's Civility in the Workplace workshop helps employees identify and address ineffective behaviour in order to improve productivity, motivation, and loyalty to the Department. The workshop is being used as a model to develop similar workshops in several other federal departments.
  • A mental health steering committee comprised of employee and management representatives and diversity networks offers oversight and provides input and ideas on the planning, development and implementation of Departmental activities related to mental health.

Diversity and inclusiveness

Diversity refers to any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. It includes a broad range of characteristics that influence outlook, opinions, and ideas.

Inclusiveness is valuing, respecting and supporting each other's differences. It's about focusing on the needs of everyone.

If we think about it as a recipe for success: diversity is the mix, but inclusiveness is getting the mix to work well.

Watch as three employees provide their unique perspectives on diversity and how they foster a culture of inclusiveness at AAFC.

Andrew's story

Video transcript

[An image of a multi-coloured cob of corn appears against a black background. This is the title graphic for the video.]

[Light guitar and piano music fades in.]

Text on screen: Diversity and Inclusiveness: Andrew's story

[The video opens with a simple shot of Andrew Goldstein standing against a black background.]

Andrew Goldstein: I'm Andrew Goldstein. I'm the Director General of Policy Planning and Integration here at Agriculture Canada.

[The music plays and we see two smiling portraits of Andrew that appear and slide to the left. Cut to Andrew talking.]

Text on screen: Diversity

Andrew Goldstein: We often think about it in terms of diversity and making sure we have a representative workforce of the population in Canada…

Text on screen: Inclusion

…But I think what we really strive for is inclusion and making sure that the people we have are all… all feel part of the team, that are all working towards a common, common objective.

Good managers play checkers and great managers play chess. The great managers in looking at the chessboard see all their employees as individuals…

Text on screen: Individuals with unique perspectives and abilities

…and understand their unique perspective, their unique abilities and move and help them move in their own individual ways.

It's often challenging in a large group setting for people that actually share their real feelings, their real perspectives. And it happened a couple months ago in my all staff meetings where we presented a proposal and it was a new proposal and there was something that I felt strongly about, but some of my employees were comfortable enough with the environment. They were actually willing to raise their concerns with it. That was great.

Text on screen: We created an environment where people feel comfortable

I felt so good afterwards that we've created an environment where people felt comfortable sharing their views and even challenging me and my perspective and what I was proposing. And as a result I think the initiative is going to move forward better because people feel more comfortable with it. They felt like they were being heard. And so I was… I was thrilled.

[Fade to white. Light, electronic music fades out.]

Text on screen: Canada, © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2016).

[Fade to black.]

Angelique's story

Video transcript

[An image of a multi-coloured cob of corn appears against a black background. This is the title graphic for the video.]

[Light guitar and piano music fades in.]

Text on screen: Diversity and Inclusiveness: Angelique's story

[The video opens with a simple shot of Angélique Ruzindana against a black background.]

Angélique: Hello. My name is Angélique Ruzindana. I work for Agriculture Canada, and I want to talk to you about diversity and what diversity means to me.

[The music plays and we see two smiling portraits of Angelique that appear and slide to the left. Cut to her talking.]

Text on screen: the winning formula

Angélique: It's the winning formula for a society to live in communion, unity and peace. To me, it's the formula for achieving social cohesion.

Let me tell you a little about myself. I come from a tiny country where everyone speaks the same language, shares the same culture and belongs to the same religion. Yet despite this apparent harmony and sameness, it's a country that's famous for a tragic reason. It's Rwanda.

To me, immigrating to Canada, to such a vast country, with such a diverse climate and landscapes, and especially its rainbow population -- to paraphrase Mandela -- this is a dream that's become reality.

Text on screen: Rainbow population

It means unity, the unity of peace that comes from diversity.

Text on screen: unity… peace… diversity.

That's true not only in social life, but also at work, because the workplace is an extension of social life and vice versa too.

[Fade to white. Light, electronic music fades out.]

Text on screen: Canada, © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2016).

[Fade to black.]

Tony's story

Video transcript

[An image of a multi-coloured cob of corn appears against a black background. This is the title graphic for the video.]

[Light guitar and piano music fades in.]

Text on screen: Diversity & Inclusiveness

[The video opens with a simple shot of Tony Savard against a black background.]

Tony Savard: Hi, my name is Tony Savard. I'm a research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Today I'd like to talk a bit about what inclusivity and diversity in the Department mean to me.

[The music plays and we see two laughing portraits of Tony that appear and slide to the left. Cut to Tony talking.]

Text on screen: All colours. All backgrounds.

Tony Savard: My colleagues represent all colours and all backgrounds. I myself am a male, Aboriginal, French-speaking Quebecker.

But one of my colleagues is African, and for both men and women, it's in their culture…

Text on screen: Culture

… their custom, to be very physically affectionate. So they'll put their hand on your shoulder, on your arm.

Nowadays, there are some people who don't like that. It's not necessarily considered an inappropriate act, but it can be a cultural barrier. The only way to overcome it is through dialogue…

Text on screen: Dialogue.

And I can tell you that the Department strongly promotes dialogue.

So now when my colleague comes over and touches me on the shoulder, I'm not offended at all. I know that that's part of his culture, even a sign of respect on his part. But to reach that point, we needed to talk about it. Dialogue is essential.

[Fade to white. Light, electronic music fades out.]

Text on screen: Canada, © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2016).

[Fade to black.]

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Did you know…

Create time and space Diversity

Ensure the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve his/her full potential.

AAFC has five diversity networks:

  • Visible Minorities Network
  • Persons with Disabilities Network
  • Indigenous Network Circle
  • LGBT Network
  • Women in Science

The Department also has two professional networks:

  • Managers' Community
  • Young Professionals Network

AAFC's networks work in partnership to further the Department's employment equity, diversity and inclusiveness, and workplace wellness goals.

AAFC is one of five Government of Canada departments selected to participate in a Diversity and Inclusion Joint Union/Management Task Force with the mandate of defining diversity and inclusion in the Public Service.

The Department is amongst twelve Government of Canada departments selected to support the Interdepartmental Circle on Indigenous Representation.

It's no wonder that AAFC is in the running to be recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers!

Integrated wellness strategy

Let's talk leadership - Integrated wellness strategy

What does a mentally healthy workplace look like to you? What is your role within that vision?

Drafted in consultation with the National Occupational Health and Safety Policy Committee, AAFC's Integrated Wellness Strategy is an all-encompassing plan that brings together the elements required to create a healthy and safe workplace:

  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Duty to Accommodate
  • Integrated Resolution Services
  • Employee and Family Assistance Program
  • Psychosocial Mental Health
  • Workers' Compensation

The strategy focuses on three dimensions of workplace wellbeing to create a culture that enshrines health, safety and well-being in all aspects of the workplace through collaboration, inclusivity, and respect.

Physical Environment

The physical work environment refers to the actual physical workplace including buildings, workspace, and air quality.

AAFC initiatives Physical Environment
  • Duty to Accommodate on-line course on manager roles and responsibilities developed.
  • Automated External Defibrillators are in the process of being installed in all sites.
  • Ergonomics Program expanded to include non-office environments such as farms and laboratories.

Psychosocial Environment

The psychosocial work environment deals with elements in the workplace that have an impact on an employee's mental wellness.

AAFC initiatives Psychosocial Environment
  • Integrated Resolution Services include preventative and restorative measures.
  • Mental health steering committee established including employer and employee representatives.
  • Process to address Violence in the Workplace enhanced.

Personal Health Resources

Personal health resources in the workplace provide employees with access to health services, information, and other resources.

AAFC initiatives Personal Health Resources
  • Ergonomics Program revised to provide employees with tips and exercises to prevent injuries.
  • Services of the Employee and Family Assistance Program continue to be promoted.
  • Workplace Wellness Resource Guide created to feature available information from the Canadian Agricultural Library.

Not myself today

Not Myself Today is an initiative designed to:

  • raise awareness and understanding of mental health among the workforce;
  • reduce stigma; and
  • foster a safe, open and supportive work environment.

Create time and space - Not myself today

There is no one "right way" to create a mentally healthy workplace. Try new things and follow the principles of continuous improvement to refine your strategy.

The campaign consists of a collection of tools and resources including mood buttons, conversation starters, and IOU cards.

"Mood walls" featuring different emotional state buttons are popping up in various locations throughout AAFC, further encouraging conversations on mental health. Employees return to the walls regularly to select a new button that is reflective of how they feel that day.

Employees throughout the department are engaging in conversations, participating in the activities and accessing the tools and resources online.

Awareness is the first step. There's much work to do. Let's talk about it.

Visit Not Myself Today for more information.

It begins with awareness

Create time and space It begins with awareness

Allow ample time in your workshop agenda for employees to explore specific topics to deepen their understanding.

Awareness is the cornerstone of changing attitudes and behaviours. In support of building a respectful and inclusive workplace, here is a sampling of different awareness sessions that were provided to employees this year.

Description of this image follows.

Description of above image
  • Gender and Sexual Diversity in the Workplace 3 sessions
  • Overview of Mental Health Tools and Resources 4 sessions
  • Not Myself Today 5 sessions
  • Creating a Respectful Workplace 9 sessions
  • Employee and Family Assistance Program Overview of Services 13 sessions
  • Civility in the Workplace 19 sessions
  • Employee and Family Assistance Program Wellness 38 sessions

Next steps

While AAFC has made a concerted effort to support the psychosocial environment of our Integrated Wellness Strategy, we've only just begun to scratch the surface of understanding the complexity of mental health. Some of the Department's next steps include:

  • Appointing a Departmental Psychological Health and Safety Champion.
  • Developing a Mental Health Handbook to help employees learn about different aspects of mental health and raise awareness of mental health issues.
  • Piloting of Mental Health First Aid Training to increase mental health literacy and providing employees with the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague.
  • In consultation with the unions and diversity network representatives, conducting an organizational assessment of risks and potential threats to workplace psychological health and safety.

Walk across Canada

Staff at AAFC's Kentville Research and Development Centre are making real strides in creating a healthier workplace.

In April 2016, a group of employees registered the Centre for the Heart and Stroke Foundation's WalkAbout Challenge. The challenge is part of a program designed to get people out of their chairs and walking.

So far, 17 employees in Kentville and Truro have taken up the challenge, taking advantage of the scenic trails and orchards near their offices.

Goal:

To collectively rack up the number of steps required to walk between all of AAFC's Research and Development Centres across the country – from St. John's NL to Agassiz BC

Progress:

  • As of October, the team has walked 6,409 km (just over 8 million steps)
  • This puts them somewhere in the mountains of British Columbia
  • Just 500 km to get to Agassiz…

"Now that we've virtually visited all AAFC's Research and Development Centres, we would like to invite others to create their own WalkAbout teams and come visit us in Nova Scotia."

Map of Canada showing employees' virtual route. 6,409 km, a little more than 8 million steps.


Recruitment and Onboarding

A Talent Renaissance

Let's talk leadership A Talent Renaissance

How do you motivate the people you lead?

First impressions are important. They set the tone for all the experiences that follow. A positive first impression for an employee is an important start to building a relationship with the workforce they have just joined.

Public Service Renewal is about people. It's about having the right people in the right positions at the right time with the right processes to enable the Department to achieve its objectives.

Tips for overcoming challenges

  • Start off on the right foot by providing new employees with an orientation. AAFC's student orientation program helps students establish positive, meaningful relationships right from day one.
  • Provide support to help managers address common issues. Ensure escalation procedures are in place to alleviate the most pressing cases.
  • Create a collaborative workspace for students and managers to facilitate dialogue and activities related to the Department's recruiting and onboarding efforts.

Highlights

  • In partnership with the Public Service Commission, AAFC attended 11 career fairs at various universities across Canada. The Department undertook a concerted effort to include academic institutions within official language minority communities in its outreach.
  • In support of official language proficiency, AAFC piloted a new Second Language Evaluation Preparation Program. To date, the Department has had great success with many employees obtaining their desired language levels on their first attempt.
  • AAFC was the first department to add a full-time Elder to its workforce. The AAFC Elder is the primary liaison between the Department and Indigenous communities across Canada. The Elder engages with Indigenous stakeholders to further the Department's goals including:
    • Indigenous student recruitment;
    • building awareness in the Department of Indigenous communities; and
    • engaging Indigenous Peoples in the development of the Next Agricultural Policy Framework.

Indigenous Student Recruitment Program

Did you know…

  • AAFC is one of the departments that employs the most number of students in the Government of Canada.
  • Continuing its long-term commitment to student employment, AAFC hired 1,118 students during the summer term and 621 students in the fall term. 12 students have been bridged into positions at AAFC.
  • AAFC launched a Student Bridging Inventory to provide managers with access to a pool of students who are eligible for hiring upon graduation.

To encourage Indigenous youth to consider a career in science, AAFC launched an Indigenous Student Recruitment Program in Spring 2016.

In addition to supporting the Department's recruitment efforts and aligning with the Government of Canada's results and delivery agenda regarding Indigenous Peoples, the program encourages Indigenous youth to pursue studies in science. It also enables Indigenous students to gain experience and knowledge of various careers available at AAFC and other departments.

The program recruited 21 Indigenous students for the summer term; 10 of these students continued into the fall term.

Watch as several Indigenous students share their experiences working at AAFC.

Opportunities for Indigenous Youth

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Video transcript

[Light electronic music fades up.]

[Two workers are pruning apple trees in an orchard. The title of the video appears over this image.]

Text on screen: Opportunities For Indigenous Youth, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

[The video cuts to an image of Sterling-Rae King. She is standing against a black background and is speaking slightly off camera.]

Sterling-Rae King: My name is Sterling-Rae and I'm from the BC Metis Nation.

[The video cuts to an image of Alexandra Freedman. She is standing against a black background and is speaking slightly off camera.]

Alexandra Freedman: My name is Ali and I am Metis.

[The video cuts to an image of Kaylie Atkinson. She is standing against a black background and is speaking slightly off camera.]

Kaylie Atkinson: My name is Kaylie Atkinson and I am First Nations status.

[The video cuts to an image of Brayden Jones. He is standing against a black background and is speaking slightly off camera.]

Brayden Jones: My name is Brayden Jones and I am Metis.

[Cut back to Sterling-Rae King.]

Sterling-Rae King: What attracted me to work with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

[Cut to a shot of Sterling-Rae taking readings in a vineyard.]

...was that it was the perfect opportunity to be able to continue my learning throughout the summer in an out of classroom setting.

[Cut back to Alexandra Freedman.]

Alexandra Freedman: I applied through the FSWEP program and I self-identified as indigenous. When I first got the job I didn't really know what agriculture was. I just thought it was dealing with cows and pigs.

[Cut to a shot of Brayden Jones working in a lab.]

Kaylie Atkinson: You're doing hands on stuff everyday so it's definitely something you're going to use in the future.

[Cut back to Kaylie Atkinson.]

I've learned a lot so far.

[Cut back to Brayden Jones.]

Brayden Jones: I'm a first year student just coming out of university and I'm working right beside a researcher.

[Cut back to Sterling-Rae King.]

Sterling-Rae King: I think the most surprising thing about working here is being able to see all the different jobs that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada offers.

[Cut to a series of shots showing the different types of work available through AAFC.]

There's more than just the science and research part of this and all the other jobs coming in.

[Cut to a shot of an employee walking up to the front doors of the Summerland Research and Development Centre.]

Alexandra Freedman: I would definitely recommend getting into the government.

[Cut back to Alexandra Freedman.]

I think now more than ever, if you're given the chance, or if you're able to put yourself out there and make a name for yourself and make a name for indigenous youth, and in general just indigenous people in the government of Canada, that's a major thing.

[Cut back to Kaylie Atkinson.]

Kaylie Atkinson: Being an indigenous woman, I think it's so important for other indigenous youth to work in the government.

[Cut back to Alexandra Freedman.]

Alexandra Freedman: There's tons of jobs out there especially if you're indigenous. It truly is a rewarding experience and it looks great on a resume as well.

[Cut back to Brayden Jones.]

Brayden Jones: It seems like just yesterday that I started. I can't believe how much I've grown this summer.

[Cut back to a shot of Sterling-Rae King working in a vineyard.]

Sterling-Rae King: I really like working for the government. I think it's a great opportunity.

[Cut back to Sterling-Rae King.]

I would definitely recommend it.

[Cut back to Kaylie Atkinson.]

Kaylie Atkinson: I definitely would recommend it.

[Cut back to Brayden Jones.]

Brayden Jones: The more people that are able to get involved with it, the better.

[Cut back to Alexandra Freedman.]

Alexandra Freedman: There's so much that this department deals with, there's so much science, and so much thought that goes behind everything about agriculture. It's a great learning experience.

[Fade to black.]

[Fade up from black.]

Text on screen: For more information contact AAFC's Elder, Mervin Traverse at mervin.traverse@canada.ca

[The Canada wordmark appears on the screen with an animated Canadian flag over the last letter of the word.]

Text on screen: Canada

[Black text appears under the Canada wordmark.]

Text on screen: © Her Majesty the Queen in the Right of Canada, represented by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (2016).

[Light electronic music fades out.]

[Fade to white.]

Students supporting students

Each year, AAFC welcomes over one thousand students from a broad range of academic disciplines and backgrounds into its workforce. The students enrich the diversity of the Department with fresh thoughts, opinions, perspectives, and experiences that inform what we do.

To support the integration of students, AAFC's Student Panel of Representatives for Orientation, Unity, and Training (SPROUT), hosts an orientation session at the beginning of each work term.

Benefits of the student orientation include:

  • creating a more welcoming workplace;
  • breaking the ice to help build professional and social networks quickly; and
  • establishing common ground by sharing key departmental information, such as AAFC's values and the Department's mission.

Keys to success

  • Leverage lived experiences. The orientation session is organized by employees who started their careers with AAFC as students. These employees are keenly aware and motivated to help address the challenges and interests of student employees.
  • Support from the Young Professionals Network, Departmental Champion for Students, and managers. Supporters are actively involved, encouraging students to participate in the orientation.
  • Bring in the experts. Inviting guest speakers from functional and specialized areas helps connect new employees with key departmental players.

Management and Leadership Development Program

Create time and space - Management and Leadership Development Program

Establish a culture of coaching across generations. Create opportunities for cross-generational mentoring.

Now in its fifth year, the Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP) supports AAFC managers by providing them with a network of peers in the Department. It also connects them with senior leaders and subject matter experts at AAFC.

The MLDP complements and builds on the Canada School of Public Service's Manager Development Program. The MLDP focuses on the transfer and application of knowledge, skills and competencies required for managers to be successful at AAFC.

Core to the MLDP is the DISC personality profile assessment. The DISC model provides a common language that managers can use to better understand themselves and to adapt their behaviours with others.

Program Objectives

Over 400 employees have participated in the program.

Over 400 employees have participated in the program

The MLDP provides three weeks of classroom learning to help participants:

  • understand and respect critical financial and human resources authorities and accountabilities;
  • develop the necessary skills and competencies to effectively engage and manage employees to achieve results; and
  • nurture talent and manage performance.

Other Professional Development and Apprenticeship Programs

AAFC's Professional Development and Apprenticeship Programs consists of formal training, coaching and developmental assignments within a structured learning framework. They are an effective way to attract and retain employees in fields where skills are not readily available in the labour market. They also accelerate the development of junior levels already in the field. The Department currently offers five development programs:

  • Economics and Social Science Services Development Program (ECDP)
  • Financial Officer Development Program (FIDP)
  • Human Resources Coordinator Development Program - Staffing (HRCDP)
  • Human Resources Development Program (HRDP) - a new program in 2016
  • Purchasing and Supply Development Program (PGDP)

"My organizational awareness has been really enhanced. I leave [the MLDP] with a sense and feeling of being better prepared to take on whatever issues come my way going forward."

National Mentoring Program

AAFC's National Mentoring Program provides a forum between experienced employees who share their professional skills, knowledge and insights with other employees interested in learning and developing new skills. In addition, it creates an opportunity for the transfer of valuable corporate memory to the next generation of AAFC employees.

An online system was created to match the competencies and skills associates are looking to develop with what prospective mentors have to offer.

Description of the image follows.
Description de above image
Year Mentors Associates Matches
2012 141 215 119
2013 107 183 111
2014 112 114 99
2015 98 113 100
2016 119 147 143

How to run a speed networking session

AAFC leveraged the speed networking meeting format to provide a venue for employees to expand their contacts within the Department. During a session, employees share their professional backgrounds and work experiences.

Description of this image follows.

Instructions:

  • Two employees are paired up for 5 minutes to exchange ideas and share experiences.
  • At the end of the 5-minute session, one employee moves to the next mentor and starts a new conversation.
  • Repeat until each participant has met with each mentor or until time is up.

A Regional Twist:

  • Provide participants with a series of videoconference numbers to dial in at specified times, connecting them to various mentors.
Other Actions to Renew the Public Service

Empowering Voices

Let's talk leadership - Empowering Voices

If you were the boss for a day, what would you do to positively impact your work environment?.

Creating the time and space for dialogue doesn't stop at the office.

In developing the Next Agricultural Policy Framework, AAFC sought feedback from Canadians to help shape future policy and programs for the agriculture and agri-food sector. The consultation, including official language minority stakeholders, collected feedback on Growing Forward 2 to better understand the strengths and challenges of the existing framework. It also validated the key priority areas for the next framework.

Internally, AAFC made a concerted effort to consult employees on its classification strategy and directive on staffing.

Highlights

  • In response to a lack of representation of AAFC scientists on the Internet, a series of Wikipedia pages has been created to showcase the Department's scientific accomplishments and the people behind them. The Department started with women in science in an effort to inspire a new generation of scientists to work in the public service.
  • A continuous process improvement project is underway to fine-tune the automation of onboarding tasks for new hires and streamline the process for obtaining information technology resources for employees and contractors.
  • The Federal Science Library was recognized with a 2016 GTEC Distinction Award. AAFC is one of seven science-based partnering organizations that created a network to enhance access to global information resources, fueling scientific innovation, program and policy research.

Big data requires big storage

The scientific discovery work being undertaken within AAFC has created exponential growth in data and has far surpassed the limitations of AAFC's storage capacity. While a few gigabytes of storage was appropriate for the work conducted a decade ago, today's research requires hundreds of terabytes to store and manipulate scientific data.

Over the past months, a number of AAFC's research and development centres have been impacted by the constraints of the current allocation of storage space. Working in tandem with Shared Services Canada, AAFC has developed a plan to address the Department's storage expansion needs.

Workstation refresh strategy

Technology has changed the workforce in many ways. It supports a variety of functions including communication, productivity, and scientific progress. Computers have become an integral part of how the Department does its job.

Reliance on year-end unallocated departmental funding for the refresh of information technology (IT) workstations has led to inconsistent year-to-year asset replacement. These peaks and valleys have created a situation where a large number of workstations are not performing at an optimal level, affecting productivity.

AAFC developed a Workstation Refresh Strategy to address these challenges. The strategy includes a plan to establish consistent year-over-year funding for the procurement and deployment of IT workstations. It also considers the management of the lifecycle of workstations.

Anticipated benefits include:

  • Reduction of support effort and performance issues due to old equipment
  • Ensures lifecycle management pressures are addressed yearly

Crowdfunding for charity

AAFC adopted the concept of crowdfunding to kick-start a charitable workplace campaign event. Once the initial fundraising goal was met, six senior managers squared-off in head-to-head debates on a variety of fun topics. This was the first-time ever that an online donation process was used to crowdfund an event. The event surpassed its fundraising goal by 44%.

Benefits of the online donation system

  • Hassle-free collection of donations (no cash).
  • Automatic tallying of donations, real-time results.
  • Tax receipts issued for donations of $20 or more (first ever for an event).

Knowledge workspace adoption on the rise

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Description of above image
Year New Collaboration Sites Total Collaboration Sites
Pilot 6 6
2013 44 50
2014 144 194
2015 143 337
2016 272 609

Knowledge Workspace is an internal web-based environment that helps employees collaborate, network and manage information. Online workspaces are available for teams, communities of practice and committees to create, develop and share information. Features include calendars, surveys, discussion threads and instant messaging.

Keys to success

  • Ensure Site Administrators share the departmental vision for the use of the tool.
  • Present timely and relevant information as web content (not buried in documents).

Continuous improvement

AAFC is currently running a third cohort of Continuous Process Improvement Facilitator Training. The Community of Practice of Continuous Process Improvement Practitioners is active and available to help others streamline their processes.

Description of this image follows.
Description of above image
Year Processes started
Before 2014 3
2014 8
2015 17
2016 14
Total 42

2016 Departmental awards

Gold Harvest Award

Our employees do amazing things every day. AAFC's Gold Harvest and Deputy Minister Commendation Awards and Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Science honour the exceptional contributions our people make and the incredible results they achieve for the Department and for Canadians. Over 140 employees were recognized at this year's Departmental Awards Ceremony. Three employees were recognized in the category of career achievement.

Dr. George W. Clayton has dedicated 33 years to collaborating and leading innovative solutions to advance the Canadian agricultural industry. One of the pioneers who significantly contributed to the development, transformation and deployment of integrated no-till crop production systems, Dr. Clayton conducted the most comprehensive study to date on the advantages and disadvantages of growing genetically modified (GM) wheat. His comprehensive work has produced an important database for regulatory decisions on GM technology.

Dr. Robert S. Vernon contributed to the development of expert integrated pest management (IPM) systems for many vegetable crops. These systems help farmers determine when to take control actions, enabling them to reduce pesticide spraying by up to 90%. His "Vernon Beetle Trap" can catch up to 7,000 beetles per trap, which is great for monitoring but also useful in developing IPM strategies. Dr. Vernon is also the world's leading researcher on wireworm biology.

Mr. Ron J. Woodvine's work for the Department has led to improved water management on prairies and greater economic security to producers and local communities. From 2000 to 2008, Mr. Woodvine worked on a joint AAFC/Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) project to help increase agricultural production and improve food security in drought-prone Ethiopia. He taught locals how to undertake hydrologic studies aimed at securing water supplies and helped create a better hydrologic data collection system.

Public service award of excellence 2016

Scientific contribution: Genomics Research and Development Initiative Shared Priority Projects

The Food and Water Safety Team and the Quarantine and Invasive Species Team are commended for their outstanding scientific contribution and for leading the first-ever large-scale interdepartmental projects under the Genomics Research and Development Initiative. The teams:

  • created a federally led system for analyzing genomics data;
  • developed new technologies for detecting food- and water-borne pathogens, reducing detection time from days to hours; and
  • advanced faster and more accurate ways to identify and trace the origins of invasive and quarantine species.

The success of these priority projects is a testament to the collaborative model of research in government and demonstrates that stronger results can be achieved for Canadians by sharing knowledge and resources.
Along with recipients from Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada, National Research Council Canada, and Public Health Agency of Canada, the AAFC recipients are:

  • Patrice Bouchard, Ph.D.
  • Robert Foottit, Ph.D.
  • André Lévesque, Ph.D.
  • James Macklin, Ph.D.
  • Edward Topp, Ph.D.

Employee innovation: Statistics Canada / Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Field Crops Remote Sensing Team

The Field Crops Remote Sensing Team developed an innovative approach to measuring crop production by using satellite, meteorological, and historical survey data. Working together over several years, team members from Statistics Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada used combined data to create new estimates of national and provincial crop yields. The new approach to creating estimates provides similar quality data to what was collected in the annual crop survey, without the burden on farm operators. Canada is one of the first countries to release model-based crop yield estimates as official statistics. The team has showcased the powerful results that can be achieved through collaboration, dedication, and innovative thinking.

Along with recipients from Statistics Canada, the AAFC recipients are:

  • James Ashton
  • Catherine Champagne, Ph.D.
  • Aston Chipanshi, Ph.D.
  • Bahram Daneshfar, Ph.D.
  • Andrew M. Davidson, Ph.D.
  • Harvey Hill, Ph.D.
  • Nathaniel Kenneth Newlands, Ph.D.
  • Richard Warren
  • Yinsuo Zhang, Ph.D.
Almanac predictions for 2017

Almanac predictions for 2017

Let's talk leadership Almanac predictions for 2017

How do you celebrate small and large successes?

AAFC continued to make solid progress during 2016 on realizing the Blueprint vision.

By building a culture of leadership at all levels, every employee can take personal responsibility for becoming agents of change for the Department.

The concept of continuous improvement brings incremental change, allowing the Department to build on ideas over time. Operating in an environment focused on results and delivery, AAFC is encouraged to take smart risks and try new things. Learn from the mistakes and adjust the approach.

2017 will bring new challenges. As the number of priorities increases, AAFC must be flexible in the deployment of its resources to serve the evolving needs of Canadians. The Department needs to continue to equip its workforce with the right tools, use streamlined processes, and create the time and space to allow its employees to do what they do best.

Our people are our most valuable resource. AAFC's progress to date on respectful workplace and recruitment and onboarding will serve as cornerstones as it continues to create an environment that fosters a high-performing workforce to serve the country's evolving needs.

Create time and space Almanac predictions for 2017

Discover what other skills and talents your employees can bring.

AAFC's Canada 150 video is a story of modern agriculture. It is a marriage of technology with the talents of public servants.

From the composition of the soundtrack to the programming of the global positioning systems that make it possible to cut the Canada 150 logo into a wheat field, every element of this video is done by public servants.

The video is a prime example of the good things that can happen when you allow employees to think big, take chances and equip them to succeed.

This is one result of public service renewal at AAFC. And as the video alludes to - we're just beginning.

Canada 150: It's just the beginning

Video transcript

[A single piano note.]

[Close up of wheat in a field.]

[The single piano note expands into a light piano music track.]

[A medium shot of a wheat field. The camera moves from left to right.]

[The piano music continues.]

[A close up shot of a woman running her hand over the wheat in the field.]

[A close up of a woman standing in the wheat field. She looks up to the camera with a slight smile on her face.]

Female employee #1: On these prairies our people have been celebrating life for 10,000 years.

[An aerial view of a combine harvesting the wheat from the field.]

[A close up of a man standing in the wheat field. He look up to the camera with a slight smile on his face.]

Male employee #1: Our ancestors came here to raise food and families.

[Another aerial view of the combine harvesting the wheat from the field.]

[The piano music continues.]

[A close up of a man standing in the wheat field. He is looking at the camera with a slight smile on his face.]

Male employee #2: We overcame differences.

[An aerial shot of the combine harvesting wheat from the field. We can now start to see that he is harvesting the wheat to create a pattern in the field.]

[A closer shot of the combine harvesting wheat from the field.]

[The piano music continues.]

[A close up of a woman standing in the wheat field. She looks up to the camera with a slight smile on her face. The wind is blowing in her hair.]

Female employee #2: We are stewards of many languages and vast lands.

[An aerial shot of the combine harvesting wheat from the field. He is almost finished cutting the pattern into the field.]

[The piano music continues.]

[A close up of a man standing in the wheat field. He is looking at the camera with a slight smile on his face.]

Male employee #3: We are of mixed races and cultures.

[Another aerial shot of the combine harvesting wheat from the field. We can almost see the entire pattern now.]

[The piano music continues.]

[The same woman from the beginning of the video reappears. She is still standing in the wheat field. We can see a group of children in the background.]

Female employee #1: And as long as the sun shines, the river flows, and the grass grows...

[The woman smiles and turns back to look at the children. The children begin to run into the wheat field.]

[The piano music continues.]

[The children run together down one of the paths cut by the combine.]

...our children will celebrate life on these prairies.

[An aerial shot of the pattern that has been cut into the wheat field. It's the Canada 150 logo. The combine is driving around the edge of the logo.]

[The Canada 150 logo on a white circle. There is a light image of the wheat field at sunset in the background.]

Child: It's just the beginning.

[The piano music comes to an end.]

[The Canada wordmark.]

Text on screen: (c) Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2016)

Subscribe to AgricultureCanadaEng for more videos.


Leadership and Continuous Improvement Tools

Let's Talk Leadership

  • In what ways are you generous with your ideas, time, expertise, and words?
  • How do you motivate the people you lead?
  • How do your behaviours inspire others?
  • How do you show respect for diverse perspectives in the workplace?
  • How do you hold yourself accountable for the promises you make?
  • How do you help colleagues understand the value of their contributions?
  • How do you guide others through change?
  • What does informed decision-making look like?
  • How do you celebrate small and large successes?
  • What does it mean to achieve results that add value to the Department?

Continuous Improvement

Debuted at the 2016 Innovation Fair, the cards were immediately put to use at the “Red Tape Busters” workshop, guiding participants through the workshop’s process improvement activity.

Using a whole-of-government approach, the Continuous Improvement Cards bear no organizational identifiers other than the Canada wordmark - so they can be shared broadly.

Continuous improvement cards (PDF version, 363 KB)

DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control)
An acronym representing the five steps used in continuous improvement projects.

“If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always gotten.”
Anthony Robbins – Motivational Speaker

Define - business problem, goal, potential resources, project scope, high-level project timeline

  • Identify the strategic need and pain points
  • Clarify facts, set objectives and form the project team
  • Establish a project charter

Measure - establish current baselines as the basis for improvement

  • Identify the gap between current and required performance
  • Collect relevant data for comparison
  • Establish a high-level process flow baseline

Analyze - identify, validate and select root cause for elimination

  • Identify how process inputs affect process outputs
  • Create process maps to help pin-point the root causes and other contributing factors
  • Prioritize root causes to pursue in the Improve step

Improve - identify, test and implement a solution

  • Focus on the simplest and easiest solutions
  • Test solutions: Plan, do, check and adjust
  • Create and share detailed implementation plan

Control - monitor improvements, sustain gains and continue to improve

  • Identify clear and real accountabilities required for implementation
  • Create a control plan
  • Update documents, business processes and training records as required

Alternative formats

Help with alternative formats

Sowing Seeds of Possibilities (PDF version, 873 KB)

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