Unsung Recognition Hero: Kevin Falcon
You don’t become Finance Minister of British Columbia, Canada without making a few enemies. Just ask Kevin Falcon, Finance Minister of British Columbia, Canada, and all of his enemies.
Why does Mr. Falcon have so many enemies? It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when he was a fixture within the community; the women swooned over his fine-tailored suits, the men respected his rugged confidence, and Canadian schoolchildren skipped in his footsteps wherever he walked, immortalizing him in honorific playground rhymes. But those days are over. On Monday morning, Falcon found himself in hot water after it was revealed to a local newspaper that the Finance Ministry of British Columbia, under Falcon’s oversight, currently spends $1.5 million in taxpayer dollars per year on a secret government program. Upon hearing the news, B.C. citizens were appalled – APALLED! – at the Finance Minister’s flagrant spending practices and lack of transparency in these austere economic times.
What is this secret government-funded operation that is fleecing Canadian coffers and enraging hardworking British Columbians? Dumping mercury in school lunches? Atomic tests on the Hudson Bay? Laser-guided dolphins? Close. The funding in question goes toward a peer-to-peer and service recognition program. Ministry employees utilize the annual $1.5 million budget to award each other gifts from an online catalog for on-the-spot awards, as well as fund long service awards for anniversaries of 20 years and up.
That’s right; citizens of B.C. have taken great umbrage with the heretofore unknown practice of Canadian government officials rewarding Canadian government employees for their hard work and dedication. But as they say in Canada, “What’s the big hubbub, eh?” Non-cash incentives, like the ones found in the Finance Ministry’s program, have been proven to be greater financial motivators for employees than, well, cash itself. Double that, industry research has time and again proven the link between employee engagement and job performance. So when you think about it, this can only work out to the citizens of British Columbia’s advantage: a group of engaged, motivated government employees will result in a higher-performing government, therefore making life easier for everyone, correct?
Not so! Reaction to the news ranged from unsupportive – “Another waste of taxpayer dollars” – to mildly supportive – “It’s so ridiculous, shut it down now” – to indignant ultimatums – “Can we expect your resignation? I thought so.” At an impromptu press conference (called to quell the rising pitchforks), Falcon was quick to point out that the Finance Ministry of British Columbia is the largest employer in the B.C. Province, with a staff of 30,000 employees, and that the $1.5 million sum allocated for the reward and recognition program only represents 0.004% of the government body’s $42 billion annual budget.
I suppose it’s a sign of the times when the Finance Minister of British Columbia becomes an embattled figure for defending his employees’ recognition budget. But Kevin Falcon is tough, and he doesn’t come with a comfort strip. He made it perfectly clear that the current program would not be changing:
“Recognizing employees that have served the province for decades is entirely appropriate and I’m not going to be an employer that is going to cancel those kinds of programs,” said Falcon.
That is why Kevin Falcon, Finance Minister of British Columbia, Canada, is an Unsung Recognition Hero.
For posterity’s sake, and in honor of the man, I have reprinted below (with permission) one of Mr. Falcon’s most popular Canadian playground rhymes:
Falcon flying high above,
Soars across an endless gray,
Around the time the taxman comes,
He can help you itemize the benefits of your IRA.
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