Central to the MMA Annual Meeting is the wide range of workshops that provide important insights and strategies for town managers and administrators, department heads, job supervisors and other municipal staff.
These sessions are moderated by experts with a deep understanding of municipal concerns, and they tackle important and timely issues, from cybersecurity, climate change and crisis response to opioid use and employee wellness, among many other topics.
Highlighted below are four of the 34 workshops that will take place during the MMA Annual Meeting in Boston on Jan. 24 and 25.
Property Sustainability: Protecting Municipal Assets
The ability of municipalities to adequately prepare for adverse events and quickly return to full operations afterwards – a quality known as resilience – contributes significantly to minimizing the impact of emergencies on employees and communities.
As communities confront increasingly extreme weather, municipal facilities teams must incorporate best practices to prevent property loss and maintain continuity of services. This workshop will cover facility sustainability and resiliency best practices, and ways to strengthen your facilities team’s operations and responses in managing your community’s assets.
Attendees will be equipped with strategies and protocols to improve protection of public buildings and ensure their reliability for residents, employees and students.
Panelists will include Ken Wertz, executive director of the Massachusetts Facilities Administrators Association.
Cybersecurity: What Municipalities Need to Know Now
Cyber risks are among the top concerns of municipalities of all sizes. A cyberattack that impacts municipal financial systems can stop the flow of business, potentially draining funds meant for community initiatives and services, and may have both an immediate and long-term impact on public safety.
School cyber incidents do not discriminate by school location or community size, according to K12Cybersecure.com, and can result in the theft of taxpayer dollars, stolen identities, altered school records, website and social media defacement, and the loss of access to school technology and IT systems for weeks or longer.
As municipalities increasingly become targets of cyberattacks, this workshop will provide information about best practices and practical tips to offer immediate protection against financial and reputational cyber losses. It will cover the do’s and don’ts of protecting data, and the first steps to take during the recovery process should your municipality experience a cyber incident.
The panel will include legal and risk management experts, and the director of the MassCyberCenter will discuss resources available to Massachusetts cities and towns.
Using Mindfulness to Increase Workplace Engagement and Effectiveness
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain, makes the case that mindfulness is a “must have” for professionals “to keep our brains healthy, to support self-regulation and effective decision-making capacities, and to protect ourselves from toxic stress.”
Increasingly seen as a powerful tool, mindfulness can help municipal leaders and employees improve mental and physical health, cope with stress, reduce burnout, improve interpersonal communication, reduce unconscious bias, strengthen leadership qualities, and improve learning effectiveness.
This workshop will explore the science, benefits and practice of mindfulness and provide tools and strategies for cultivating mindfulness and strengthening the ability to meet the complexities of work and everyday life with intention, awareness, effectiveness and well-being.
Panelists will include Brenda Fingold, the assistant director of workplace and leadership education at the Mindfulness Center at the Brown University School of Public Health.
Transform Your Wellness Program: Create a Great Place to Work
Controlling health care costs and improving productivity will always be a priority for employers. A recent survey by the National Business Group on Health found that 98% of responding employers identified improving physical health an important wellness goal, followed by emotional health (92%), and financial security (90%). This survey and others have shown the value of employee engagement and that holistic, all-encompassing health and wellness programs are taking on a bigger role in shaping a productive and healthy workplace.
While wellness efforts can combat burnout and promote health, individuals often need help getting there – including the support of their workplaces. Research clearly shows that employees will stay on the job and perform at their best, even in hard times, when they feel supported.
This workshop will explore simple ideas and approaches to help employees along the path to wellness. Session leaders will review the research on wellness initiatives, examine ways to implement state-of-the-art programming, and discuss how municipal managers can integrate their current benefits into a coordinated, comprehensive culture of health and wellness.
Panelists will include Gillian Pieper, a health promotion specialist at the Vermont Education Health Initiative.
For a full list of MMA Annual Meeting workshops, visit www.MMA.org/workshops.