The benefits of partnerships: Federation Insurance Products

The Federation believes that in order to be strong and sustainable, BC’s community social services sector must have access to high quality and affordable insurance products. That’s one big reason why our member agencies have access to a suite of comprehensive and reliable insurance programs and services at a competitive cost. We take a lot of pride in these products and they have been developed with care and consideration in order to meet the needs of our sector.

What you may not know is that these member benefits were created many, many years ago. It was 1984 when we began working with Schmunk Gatt Smith and Associates to develop the Federation Associate Benefit Plan (FABP). Thirty-one years later, we’re still working together to offer this plan—one of only three compliant with the requirements under BC Community Services Collective Agreement.

In many ways, the FABP is a lot like The Federation. It has been responsive to the needs of our members, changing and adapting to our requirements and constraints (enabling smaller organizations to qualify, freezing LTD rates until 2020 to get us through the bargaining period). Our partners at Schmunk Gatt Smith and Associates work incredibly hard to ensure it remains one the few compliant plans and they continue to go above and beyond to help us support our members. We’re incredibly thankful for this long-standing partnership.

We’re also thankful for our new partnership with Mesgon FitzPatrick Insurance who have committed to making our General Insurance Plan more competitive and more effective. Unlike our FABP, this partnership is new and still developing, but Megson FitzPatrick Insurance truly understands and embodies the spirit of our sector. They are innovative, they collaborated with us to develop something new and valuable, and they provide information (such as their suite Risk Management resources) to all of our members—even those that aren’t on their plan. That is the true spirit of partnership.

And in addition to everything they already do, both organization have graciously and generously stepped forward to host the networking receptions at The Federation’s provincial conferences. I know these events are enjoyed by all who attend—they are a rare moment for us to relax, kick back, socialize with our colleagues and special guests. And without the support of our insurance partners, we wouldn’t be able to host these popular events.

At the end of the day, all agencies need insurance. And The Federation’s insurance products are designed to benefit all parties involved. By purchasing benefits and insurance through The Federation, our members can stretch their money and increase the value of their membership dollars. The revenue from these plans supports everything we do—advocacy efforts, research, improving service delivery, and more.

If you are interested in learning more about The Federation’s suite of insurance products, please check out our website or contact The Federation office.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director


Award for Excellence Nominations 

Last week, I spoke about the Federation’s Youth Education Bursary and the way that it serves to welcome young people into our sector and our work. Today, I want to talk about our Award for Excellence and the related purpose it serves—recognizing and thanking the people who have stayed in the sector and committed their careers to making our communities better places to live.

As you may know, The Federation’s Award for Excellence was established in 1995 in honour of the late Thom McGuire. It was created to recognize the exceptional contributions of an individual, team, or organization in the field of child, family, or community social services. Over the years, we have recognized a dedicated and committed group of people—previous recipients include BC’s first Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Cindy Blackstock, and the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks.

Last year, The Federation’s hard-working board of directors dedicated time to revisiting the award’s criteria. They wanted to ensure that it still reflected the original spirit and intention with which it was created. As a result, there have been a few changes to the award’s criteria as well as the nomination process.

The award now has two categories—one for individuals and one for organizations. Nominations for both categories will be accepted each year and nominations will remain active and be considered for the award up to three times. (A single award will still be presented each year at the June AGM.)

The board also wanted to reaffirm that the award should recognize and honour the work of people who don’t often get recognized—to encourage Federation members to hold each other up, celebrate the accomplishments of our colleagues, and support one another in their work. As such, the questions on the nomination form were redesigned in order to give the selection committee deeper insight into the contributions made by the individual and organizational nominees.

The future of the Award for Excellence may look a little different but its heart remains the same. It’s about taking time to recognize and appreciate the work that is often under-recognized and under-appreciated. It is about respecting, supporting, and celebrating the things that make this federation Altogether better.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 Federation Award for Excellence. You can find more information and the nomination form here.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director


BC’s new Employer Health Tax

One of the big changes revealed in the BC budget speech a few weeks ago was the announcement of a new progressive tax that will replace MSP premiums in our province. The BC Employers Health Tax, as it will be called, is slated to come into effect in January 2019.

We know there are already many questions about how this tax will impact the community sector and The Federation is working hard to find answers to those questions. We have also reached out to a number of our colleagues in other umbrella organizations so that we can work collaboratively on this issue—if advocacy is required, we will be in a stronger position to do so if we can coordinate across sectors and ministries. We have also reached out to our partners in the government and let them know that The Federation is keen and ready to be involved when the planning begins.

As soon as we have more information, we will share it with our members. In the meantime, our approach to this issue will likely require some information from members over the coming months. Kathy Powelson will be leading this work. Please contact her if you have any questions or are willing to share information to bolster our position.

Leadership 2020 Newsletter: Leaving a positive legacy

One way to support your successor is to build a strong, positive legacy while you are in your position. Hopefully, long before you depart, you will be able to focus on the legacy you want to leave. Whatever it is, your legacy will assist in providing continuity—especially if you can leave clear and helpful guideposts for those who remain behind to follow.

Four Ways to Leave a Positive Legacy at Work

There is some danger in this, however, if the legacy is more about you, and less about the work you did or the work that still needs to be done. This article by Heather Younger provides some succinct pointers on how to build a positive legacy at work.

And for those who aren’t leaving their position anytime soon, the suggestions included also serve as good reminders about some valuable leadership practices we may forget from time to time.

A succession planning strategy

Online articles and think-pieces about succession planning are a dime a dozen. But they seem to talk more about the importance of succession planning and less about how to do it—or how to do it well. But succession planning isn’t just important for directors and C-suite business executives. This article in Inc argues that every key position and every key person in your organization should be a candidate, for a succession plan.

Without succession planning throughout your organization, it can become incredibly difficult to successfully promote someone unless there is a trained person to take over the position being vacated. What could succession planning look like in your organization?


Federation Champions: Supporting each other

As we were getting ready for February’s Social Policy Forum in Victoria, we came up with a simple new idea that we thought might help keep our provincial events affordable and accessible for our small- and medium-sized members. The Federation is constantly striving to support our members, but we wanted to test out a simple, new way that members could support each other.

Our plan was to ask larger member organizations for a contribution toward our conference costs so that a greater number of our smaller and more remote members could participate. We decided to call these supporting organizations ‘Federation Champions’ and we agreed to keep asking until we had 10 organizations signed up.

It only took 10 calls.

To be honest, we questioned whether there would be interest or appetite for this idea. But those questions were answered and we received an inspiring and powerful example of what Altogether better truly means. In fact, the response to this pilot project was so positive that we are already preparing to replicate it in advance of our June meeting in Penticton.

So if your organization wants to take part and would like to be one of the 10 Federation Champions supporting the June conference—or if you simply want more information—please contact me. If it would help, your Federation Champion donations can be made in this fiscal year, with the funds carried forward to the June conference. (There will also be another opportunity in advance of the October conference.)

We are very excited about the potential of this new initiative and would love to hear from even more members who want to get involved and offer their support.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director

Youth Education Bursary: Supporting youth in care

As many of you know, The Federation’s Youth Education Bursary was an initiative that was actually established by Federation members. But you may not know that its creation was inspired by two different, but related intentions.

The first (rather obvious) goal was to support young people in care—in particular, to offer them a “yes” in what is too often a lifetime of hearing “no” over and over. Kids in care don’t get to experience many of the things other kids do and our members wanted to make sure post-secondary education wasn’t one of those things.

The other (less obvious) goal was to welcome a new generation of caregivers and practitioners into our sector with support and with love—to see their potential and to help them reach it. Our sector had (and still has) a tough time recruiting people into this work. The bursary was an intentional effort to create a new pathway into our field for those who fully understand the issues we’re all facing.

We hear time and time again about the challenges members face trying to recruit staff at all levels of your organizations. We heard it during last week’s FED Talk among members, we heard it at our recent Social Policy Forum, and we hear during our regional meetings.

This is hard work. It requires a big heart, a deep commitment, and a strength that not all people have. You all understand that in the very same way that you understand the true potential of young people who possess that strength and heart—the young people who will be our future colleagues, our future leaders.

Application Information—please share!

Bursary application forms (and a link to other resources for young people) are available on our website. The deadline to apply is May 4, 2018. Please share this information with young people in your life and others who help support BC’s youth in care.

Our bursary committee members are continuously looking at ways to make the application process easier and more accessible. But perhaps the best way to make the application less scary for a young person is to have a kind, caring adult work on it with them. So please offer your help to anyone completing the application.

Thank you

At the Social Policy Forum, we raised almost $800 towards the Youth Education Bursary fund in less than a day! I want to thank you all for your generosity and for your ongoing commitment to this initiative. We know that there has been some excellent progress with BC’s tuition waiver programs over the last year. But we also know that eligibility criteria for tuition waivers will only help some of BC’s former youth in care.

That’s why the bursary continues to be important and why we will continue to support those young people who want to join our committed, caring, and hardworking sector. And I want to sincerely thank all of our members for their ongoing support of this important and meaningful program—thank you!

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director


Leadership 2020 Newsletter: Knowledge transfer and succession planning

– by Annemarie Travers, Leadership 2020 Hosting Team

At some point or another, we all leave our positions—we change roles, get a promotion, find a new job, or retire. And, during these transitions, we often focus on tidying up loose ends and preparing for the next thing instead of thinking about what (and who) will follow in our footsteps and what we can do to ensure their success.

One way to help make sure your successor is successful is to pay attention to knowledge transfer. The fields of IT and project management have spent lots of time thinking about this area, and while less the human services have paid less attention knowledge transfer strategies, we have been able to learn from other industries and have translated their successes and applied them to our field of service.

Here are some popular knowledge transfer strategies that could be a beneficial part of anyone’s succession planning.

Apprenticeship: Having overlap time with your successor is ideal, providing you with time to share what you’ve learned while in the position, and to provide them with key information. Unfortunately, this very rarely occurs, especially in organizations where resources are stretched. 

Documentation: Some organizations have templates or checklists for transition documentation. If yours doesn’t you may wish to create one. While emails and files provide some documentation, our successor will need some help to know what is most important, and why. A short overarching document with information about where to find key documents, who to consult, and potential pitfalls can be invaluable.

Vision and mission statements: If you are in a leadership role, organizational vision and mission statements can provide invaluable guidance in terms of the underlying values that guide your work. While we often look to develop these when we take on a leadership role, it is just as important to revisit with those who will remain behind prior to leaving. Ideally your successor would be part of this process.

Mentoring: Mentorship throughout one’s career can be formal or informal. As you depart, you may wish to support your successor by helping them to find a mentor (who will assist them in their new role), or you may choose to enter into a mentoring relationship with them yourself. A mentoring agreement to formalize the arrangement, especially in the beginning, can be helpful in establishing and clarifying the relationship. Mentorship agreements frequently include the frequency and conditions of meetings(e.g., phone, face to face), the goals and expectations of the mentoring relationship, and how the goals will be reviewed as well as problem resolution strategies. If you are interested, there are a wide variety of mentorship agreement templates available online.

Invisible handcuffs: About six months before I retired, I realized I carried a lot of “corporate history” in my head. I needed to find a way to share the knowledge I was carrying with my current colleagues so that it would be available after I left. I brought this to the attention of my team, and they proposed invisible handcuffs—we agreed that I would not attend any future meetings without taking at least one member of our team with me. This proved to be an excellent knowledge transfer tool.

Following in someone else’s footsteps is not easy, especially if that person has been well respected. Your next leadership action may be to ensure that you put in place some strategies to ensure that those who follow in your footsteps have a clear and easy path to do so.