Create Toxic-free Workplaces without Spending any Money with Grant Yee

I remember the first time I experienced massive layoffs this past February. In previous companies, I’ve seen maybe 10 people be laid off, but this year I witnessed 250 people take the walk of shame as they were escorted out of the building.

It was a time of self-reflection for me and a huge wake up call to find something that was not only more meaningful, but something that wouldn’t put me in such a helpless situation that was out of my control. I started to feel that these employers were heartless as they justified why so many people with families had to leave, after all, none of the executives took a walk of shame.

I’ve had executives tell us that we’re “expendable” and “easily replaced” while we worked long hours for years without even a $0.50 raise. For so long I felt that bosses and managers were just heartless people that only cared for themselves, but that was until I met someone who was MAD.  

Grant Yee, the Finance Director at the City of Ontario, was faced with the choice of letting employees go during the recession and instead of hoarding salary for himself or struggling with survivor’s guilt, he began the life-changing mission of the MAD program.

Why Become MAD at Work?

As I walked around the colorful Finance office with smiling faces and friendly people, I realized that you don’t need to go to Google or Silicon Valley to have the fun atmosphere with all the free food, gyms and services, you could have something better by going MAD—you could feel safe at work, feel connected with people and bring better results for your team with increased productivity and collaboration.

What does it mean to go MAD? MAD stands for Making a Difference, and the difference when you come to the City of Ontario is that people come first, work comes second.

If you’re thinking that people first isn’t a crazy idea, stop and think, have you put people first before your job? I know I’ve risked my health with late nights and skipped meals just to make deadlines, and the worst was when I couldn’t go to my kids’ school events because I had to work. Have we put the customers’ needs first or the company’s needs? Did we bring in new business for the company or did we just try to please the boss?

And that’s the cure for the cancer of work; instead of spreading toxic behavior that stems from ego and clashes with other egomaniacal minds, the team at the City of Ontario is proof that there is a cure that is rooted with understanding, empathy, and fun—it just takes a touch of MADness to get started.

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