Runway Lights and Workplaces – The Connection

There are two separate stories to share. One revolves around my 90 year old Dad. The other involves malfunctioning runway lights at the Fredericton Airport.

They intersect, I promise. Here we go…

Last June, Ontario took quite a turn, shifting from a Liberal to Conservative government. The Tories decided to make some sweeping changes in the way they govern, including the way that they administer contract work, and at the same time, ensuring a reduction in expenditures at the bureaucratic level.

(Translation: a serious abbreviation in my potential consulting contracts.)

Being proactive, I decided to post something on Linkedin to hasten potential opportunities for me. (

A few gracious individuals reached out, and one, in particular – Robert Laurie – invited me to explore a new business in which he was involved that provides positive workplace solutions by supporting wellness and mental resiliency.

My first reaction was “Are you kidding? I’m an environmental facilitator!”

Undertaking some outdoor facilitation. Or bird watching. One of the two.

But with Robert’s patient input, I realized that the work I do to facilitate involves getting people/teams/groups to work together in a positive and supportive fashion. Then they can work together “positively” for their task at hand. So yes, the skills I use as a facilitator can easily and effectively be used to help foster more positive and healthier workplaces.

Now, my Dad. Most Sundays, I am lucky enough to be able to share lunch with my most remarkable father.

Mr. President, and me!

He’s smart, well read, caring, compassionate and a great lunch date. He is also insightful and very, very aware of issues surrounding him – from political antics in the U.S. (he can quote line and verse from Bob Woodward’s FEAR) to what’s happening at his Senior’s Residence. He is, by the way, the President of the Resident’s Organization there.

He has some medical issues that require a PSW (personal support worker) to visit him each morning. Because of his grace and good cheer, he has endeared himself to them all, and they each try to be the one to visit “The Doctor” in the morning.

This Sunday, as we sat down at our favourite lunch spot,  Dad proceeds to tell me about his morning. The he reflects on the fact that lately, every time one of the PSW’s comes to his room, she or he starts by saying “We’re understaffed this morning”. Dad went on to explain that clearly, absenteeism is becoming rampant, and people are just not happy working there.

(Now, hold on before you think that this has impacted care at this residence. My father makes it clear that his care has not been compromised in any way. But he is certain that the care of staff is far from adequate, and ultimately, that will impact his own care. What to do???)

Oh, and lights on the runway? Last week, I made the plunge. I registered for a Workplace Framework – Mental Fitness and Resiliency Practices Training Workshop ( being held in Fredericton and was at Pearson Airport ready fly out. But alas, the wind had knocked the runway lights out, so no flights coming or going to Fredericton. Meaning, no training for Susan.

So how do these stories connect? In Canada today, we spend at least 1/3 of our lives at work. Our working environment can have a significant impact on our overall health and wellbeing. According to Statistics Canada, 1 in 4 working people have left a job due to stress, and in any week, 500,000 Canadians call in sick due to stress, anxiety and depression…like at Dad’s Senior’s Residence.

IMG_3596 2
My office colleague…hogging all the space on my chair!

Employers are increasingly recognizing the damage that stress can do in the workplace, including :

  • lost productivity due to staff absence;
  • increased workloads for workers who have to cover their colleagues’ work;
  • higher staff turnover.

Most of us work in constantly connected, always-on, highly demanding work cultures where stress and the risk of burnout are widespread. Since the pace and intensity of our work culture are not likely to change, it’s more important than ever to build mental fitness and resilience skills to navigate our work environments.

I do not mean through a single workshop for staff where you can tick off a box and say “Yup, Healthy Workplace Training, DONE!”.

No. This needs sustained and embedded positive efforts.

I’m going to go back to take the workshop as soon as possible, hopefully with fully functioning runway lights wherever I land. I will be able to help organizations who want to have strategies in place for promoting, embedding, and building capacity in positive workplace practices.  SO, I’ll ask you to consider what your workplace is like. What are the costs – on you and your colleagues – of a negative work environment?

If you would like to learn more about how simple it is to create a positive workplace culture, then get in touch with WMA Wellness. Or me. Or both! We can set you and your workplace on the path to positive!

My preferred positive, happy, healthy workplace!

Published by Susan Gesner

A skilled professional with a wealth of experience in a variety of facilitation, consultation, education and research fields. I am known for my leadership, strong interpersonal skills and my ability to bring teams together for a common goal. I strive to incorporate my own and other's passion for the environment and sustainability for the future. Oh, and I love to run, fly fish, ski and make music!

5 thoughts on “Runway Lights and Workplaces – The Connection

  1. Great article Susan and wonderful picture of you and your Dad – talk about two peas in a Pod! You do such great work it is hard to consider you being impacted by these cutbacks. I was at an MNR retirement party in Timmins last week and got quite an earful from several folks about how they are practically hamstrung to deliver the level of public service we were used to doing in the past and of course many of those folks are quite overburdened in trying to get quality work done with constantly dwindling support resources. It made me quite happy to be retired and seeking my own wellness afterward in my “office for a week” – a beaver swamp in some very hard to find part of Northwestern Ontario [where I started with MNR back in the 70!s] about 6 km inland from Lake of the Woods! Magical! Take care my dear! McGoo

    1. McGoo, your office sounds like my office. And my heart breaks for the MNR types who can’t do what they really want to do…care for the resources. Guess we’d better just both go fishing!

    1. Lovely reminder of great sentiments and a wonderfully directed and written article, Susan! I am enjoying a wonderful sunny, post-Father’s Day afternoon here in Chelsea, visiting my sweet little granddaughter Mary. I may share her with Mary Ellen once the latter finishes her ZOOM meeting… but I ain’t makin any promises! Our love and hugs to you my dear! SM

      On Mon, Jun 21, 2021 at 9:55 AM Gesner and Associates wrote:

      > Ann Ruscoe commented: “Great read Susan & photo with dad [image: 😊]” >

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