Monday, July 28, 2014

Did you know? - Equity's service standards

Every year, members call and write to the office a few thousand times, for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it's just an information request. Other times, it has to do with an imminent or active contract, where the member needs specific details on engagement terms. Every so often, members contact the office because there is a problem that needs solving. And on top of all these service interactions with members, there are many more from engagers and others with various needs for assistance.

Equity is, at its core, a service organisation, so Council has placed a big focus on doing that well – we have written comprehensive policy to ensure the best possible service standards in all areas.

But service standards are only lip service, if you don't know what they are – what you can expect in terms of service and response times – or how to proceed if those standards are not met. And so, we've made some recent changes to up our game even further.

At the top right of our main web page is a new button labelled "Compliments, comments, criticisms?" If you have a service issue, both Council and Equity's staff encourage you to use it. Behind that button lies information on our service standards and a simple, three-step process to ensure any issue with service receives the timely attention that it deserves.

Most problems are readily solved. But for those that aren't, a formal complaint process is also available. All complaints are addressed promptly by the appropriate staff, or by Council, if the matter involves the Executive Director. But beyond that, they are also logged and reported to Council on a regular basis, so that we can watch for patterns and address them proactively.

In the context of the thousands of service interactions each year, problems are fortunately rare. However, we're all human, and sometimes things do go awry. Council and staff recognise the impact that even minor seemingly issues can have in the context of an individual production or a members' livelihood, and we are committed to identifying problems if they occur and working toward continued improvement.

Please, help us help you better.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Did you know? - Health and Safety Training for Theatre Artists in Ontario

Under an expanded initiative by the Ministry of Labour in Ontario, all workers must take basic health and safety training. Including theatre artists of all stripes. Including employees and independent contractors. In short: including you.

Perhaps the easiest way to take the training is online, where it consists of roughly 45 minutes of videos, information pages, and short quizzes. There is also a paper-based version.

The response from many in the community has been about what you'd expect…
"What a waste of time!" 
"The material is boring."
"The questions are so simple, it would take an utter fool to get the answers wrong."
"I can see how this would apply in an office/factory/construction site/warehouse/etc., but it has nothing to do with me."
Well, it does.

In Ontario, there are three levels of responsibility for health and safety in the workplace.  (I suspect it is similar elsewhere, too.) Business owners have their layer of responsibility. Supervisors have their layer. And workers have theirs. And the law says that you have to know, understand, and live up to yours. In fact, you have had this responsibility for a very long time, whether you knew it or not.

So, if you've managed this long without the training, why should you bother now?

Well, you could learn something about health and safety in the workplace, and your rights and obligations. That wouldn't be so bad. You could learn something about how to recognize an unsafe situation and respond, and save yourself from injury. That wouldn't suck too much, either. You could learn how to save someone else from injury or illness. Probably worth a few minutes of your time, no?

But if learning stuff and staying safe just isn't your thing, then consider the following. One of the owner and supervisor responsibilities is to ensure that all of their workers (including you) have the requisite training, and failure to do so is a huge liability for them. If something goes awry, and an MOL inspector wants to see copies of all the training certificates, the last thing any theatre will want to discover is that they don't have them on file for everyone involved. And so you can expect that theatres will begin to require these as a condition of engagement.

How's that for a reason?

So, invest an hour of your life in acquiring some useful knowledge, and a skill certification. You're going to need to show that piece of paper sooner or later, so don't forget to save or print it at the end of the course. (You don't want to have to watch those videos twice, do you?)