Posted by: healingtheworkplace | March 8, 2009

Transforming the Workplace

Hi, sometimes in order to heal the workplace we have to completely transform it.

This post could also be called “The Little Mill That Could”. Today I’m going to tell you about a success story. This is a story about the Harmac Mill in Nanaimo, B.C.

When we think of healing the workplace we think of healing from job loss, healing from abuse or trauma, or healing from stressful, unhealthy workplace cultures.

When “bad” things happen in the workplace people often need to go through the stages of grief including expressing their anger, their frustration, and their sadness. 

But if healing is to occur action must be taken so that people can move on with their lives.

The Harmac Mill in Nanaimo, B. C. was losing money and was in receivership. I believe that the 230 people who work in the plant AND their families went through a period of “anticipatory grieving” waiting for the plant to close.

But the story has a happy ending!

In July, 2008 a coalition which included employees, managers and investors presented a plan to B. C. Supreme Court Justice Donald Brenner.

The plan was for this coalition to take over the ownership of the mill. What happened next is nothing short of a miracle.

Despite the fact that the bid was not supported by receiver Price Waterhouse Coopers, Justice Brenner ruled in favor of the coalition.

Since then the culture at the mill has changed. The new business model is being seen as a template for the rest of the pulp industry.

Investment analyst Kevin Mason, of Equity Research Associates said that Harmac appears to have achieved a seismic cultural shift by bringing workers on board in the success or failure of the company.

Employee ownership is not a new concept but it has not been accepted by “wall street” or “bay street”.

Perhaps it is time to transform our workplaces with new models and new ways of doing business.



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