Click for next page ( 74


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 73
Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Staff 73 In operations, behind the wheel training is often provided, while not in revenue service. Follow- ing this up with mentor or cadet style training helps employees to learn how to handle the real operating environment, again in a more controlled environment, developing their sense of con- fidence and counteracting any feelings of abandonment that may develop after an intensive train- ing program ends. Training for all employees should include, at a minimum, the following topics: Legally required information, such as drug and alcohol testing program information, Corporate or organizational orientation, including a review of policy and procedures related to human resources, Skills-related information, such as customer service and safety, Operations orientation, including scheduling, dispatch, accounting or fare collections, and record keeping. Typical human resources topics that are often included in training include Sexual Harassment and Diversity Awareness training. Language Training As a result of immigration and changing demographics, transit systems are finding themselves in need of employees who are bilingual. Recruiting for this need has resulted in some changes in train- ing programs, either in an emphasis to provide training in alter- Language training may be found through community nate languages and forms, or to provide alternate language train- colleges, churches and community education ing so that employees can more easily communicate with their programs, as well as in the HR departments of other customers. In addition to increasing the size of the pool of avail- agencies that provide public services, such as police able applicants, systems are able to ensure a diverse workforce. and fire. Probationary Employment Many transit systems institute a probationary period upon initial hiring or completion of ini- tial training. The employee's perception of this period may be a cautious one; however, from an employer's perspective, it is an opportunity to closely monitor the new employee's absorption and application of the skills they learned in training. Regular and consistent follow-up during this period reaffirms the organization's commitment to its employees and demonstrates sup- portive employment practices. The probationary period provides an opportunity to catch poor behaviors or incorrect actions before they become bad habits. Additional training may be provided as necessary to correct the problem. This additional training should also be provided in a positive and encouraging man- ner, as the goal is to foster the supportive environment. On a regular basis, the training program should be reviewed and adjusted to ensure that it is sufficient, especially if trends are spotted dur- ing the probationary period that require regular retraining. Retention Hiring the right people, training them to be successful, and keeping turnover to a minimum are critical to a transit system's ability to provide consistent quality service. Having applied the premises contained here in terms of job definition, recruitment efforts, interviewing, and hir- ing, agencies then shift their efforts to training new employees and then to continuing to help them grow within the organization, improving each individual's skills and developing them into successful employees. Although there is no sure-fire way to keep employees from leaving or

OCR for page 73
74 Employee Compensation Guidelines for Transit Providers in Rural and Small Urban Areas seeking other employment, there are many practices in use to encourage employees to stay and to develop a sense of loyalty. They can be summarized in the following categories: Compensation, Promotional Opportunities, Recognition, Personal and Professional Development, Employee Ownership, and Work Environment Compensation As discussed previously, compensation is a package, including wages and benefits. When ini- tial wage structures are developed, they may include a wage progression directly tied to longevity. Frequently this includes a step progression linked to employment benchmarks. This may include increases in pay rates following the completion of training, at the end of any initial probation- ary period, and then annually or semi-annually thereafter. This concept creates an Less Traditional Benefits incentive for employees to stay with the transit system since their financial position improves over time. Uniforms & Laundry Service Access to Computers & Internet Benefits such as health care, life insurance, disability insurance, vacation, sick and Break Room with Amenities other paid leave are often part of an overall compensation package available to full- Credit Union Membership time employees. As with wages, there may also be a step progression of the availabil- Membership Discounts ity of these benefits or of their value overtime. For example, health care premiums Personal Vehicle Use Privileges may be the responsibility of the employee initially, with employer contribution lev- els increasing over time. Paid time off, including sick, vacation, holiday and personal time, accrual levels generally increase over time as well, creating an incentive to stay on. Historically, part-time employees have not been eligible for most benefits, as one of the pri- mary decision-making factors over the use of part-time The performance review is a good way to implement employees has been cost. As service hours and types change, or support a merit based incentive or wage plan. Many however, the use of part-time employees has developed into a transit systems indicate that employees receive step practice aimed at reducing overtime wages, to accommodate increases, or increases tied to longevity rather than service demands and also to meet the needs of this employment performance. While this ensures a wage progression, population. As such, reducing the turnover of a part-time it does not recognize an employee's individual workforce has become a priority, and many transit systems are contributions. This type of program can also lead to a beginning to offer benefits, either full or pro-rated, for part- disincentive to perform above and beyond the average time employees. level, as there is nothing tied directly to that effort and no correlation between performance and pay. With regard to wages, many agencies have, in the past, imple- mented wage scales that vary between part-time and full-time employees filling the same position. Again, initially this was intended as a cost savings measure tied to the use of part-time employees. As decisions on use of part-time employees has evolved beyond financial considerations, wage differentials between part-time and full-time employees have been reduced or in some cases eliminated altogether. Performance Reviews The employee review process should be a formal process conducted at least annually. It should be conducted by the direct supervisor of each level of employment. Areas reviewed should be clearly defined and should relate back to the job description and benchmark. Should additional responsibilities added over the review period significantly affect the overall job description, the job should perhaps be reviewed against the benchmarks.

OCR for page 73
Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Staff 75 Once the review has been completed, it should be presented In some cases, the employee is provided an opportunity to and discussed with the employee. This is an excellent oppor- to rate themselves, just as their supervisor would and tunity to develop action plans for the employees progression, under the same criteria, which should then be included should they be interested in promotion, for their improvement in the discussion. in weak areas identified through the process, and with direction for continued success. Other approaches include an opportunity for one person from each department to have input into an The timing of performance reviews varies among transit sys- employee's review. This gives dispatchers, trainers, tems. While most formal reviews take place annually, the per- and maintenance staff, for instance, the ability to formance review can be used more frequently in the case of comment from their perspective, as their interactions problem employees, probationary employees, and newly may be more informative than a supervisor's. assigned employees. Promotional Opportunities Transit is a home grown industry, in many ways. Many transit professionals grew from the ranks, and transit is unique in that, in both the private and the public sectors, growth opportu- nities are limited only by one's interest in them. An experienced driver can be a good candidate for any other position in the organization, as he/she has an intimate knowledge of the core busi- ness. Many of the front line positions in transit operations require an understanding of the driv- er's job, and the skills required of these positions are teachable. Because of the low unemployment rates, many people have been forced to take positions that they are over-qualified for, simply to get their foot in the door of the transit system. These employees may aggressively seek promotional opportunities, as their intent may never have been to remain in the starting position. Should the potential for advancement not exist, or not be made available, these employees may not stay long or may become otherwise discouraged. Like- wise, current system employees who are overlooked for promotional opportunities in favor of external candidates may also become discouraged, regardless of their initial employment goals. Current employees may have a lot to offer, and should never be overlooked when openings become available within the organization. When all other things are equal, the candidate with the most experience may be the best person for the job. However, a person's experience should not be considered an entitlement, and the recruiting/hiring process needs to remain fair and competitive. Whenever a position becomes available, in-house recruiting should be included. In-house applicants, except in regard to seniority, should not expect or receive any special considerations, and should only be included "Special" Promotional Opportunities in the pool of qualified applicants if they meet the requirements These positions are frequently held by senior employees of the job. Some transit systems make in-house recruiting a pri- and provide more advancement opportunity, ority, permitting in-house applicants to apply for a position particularly in smaller systems. prior to the general public, potentially eliminating the need to recruit externally. Lead Driver Peer Mentor When possible, systems should use this approach to promote Behind the Wheel Trainer from within, ensuring that growth opportunities are available Cadet Trainer to all employees, and potentially decreasing the amount of Lot Pusher (Pull-Out Supervisor) resources expended to recruit, hire, and train staff. Staff short- Pull-In Supervisor ages and temporary increases in internal demands, such as Recruiter when a large group of new employees is starting in new driver Transit Ambassador training, may require additional employee resources yet only Site Coordinator for a limited time, or for special or temporary assignments.

OCR for page 73
76 Employee Compensation Guidelines for Transit Providers in Rural and Small Urban Areas These cases may not require either a part-time or full-time dedicated employee, and create a good opportunity to assign special tasks to individuals, increasing their level of responsibility and involvement. These temporary assignments may provide for wage increases or differentials for the time during which the function is being carried out, and may offer management more flex- ibility in selecting these employees as a result of the temporary nature of the job. Finally, they are a good way for management to reward an employee's excellent work through the assignment of additional responsibilities. Where services are varied by licensing requirements (CDL vs. non-CDL) or service type (fixed vs. demand-response), these differences can be used as promotional steps. For instance, all employees may be required to start at the same level and graduate into others with experience. Some transit systems apply this sort of programming to part-time positions as well, where full- time status is earned through experience. When hiring in this manner, systems need to be real- istic with regard to the length of time it takes for an employee to transition to full-time status, particularly if the employee is more interested in full-time work. Recognition Many transit systems implement programs that recognize and reward employees for longevity. Some of these programs are financial in nature, in the form of wage scales or bonuses based on expe- rience. Other opportunities include giving more senior employees priority in selecting work sched- ules or assignments or choosing days off and vacation schedules. Additional ways to recognize se- niority include awards like pins and badges that employees can proudly display on their uniforms. Many transit systems have implemented programs that reward employees for exemplary ser- vice, providing incentives for performance above and beyond the basic job requirements or description. These programs include Employee of the Month/Year, Safe-Driver awards, and Cus- tomer Service awards, to name a few. When developing these types of incentives, systems must make sure that the goals are realistic and accomplishable, that the process for determining suc- cess is valid and not subject to be compromised, that bias is removed from the equation, and that rewards are made in a timely manner. How employees are rewarded is as important as the reward itself, with public recognition and fanfare. Personal and Professional Development Many transit systems offer continuing education opportunities to their employees. These opportunities can include regular ongoing training programs, certification programs, and tuition assistance or reimbursement for adult education programs. Mandatory ongoing training may be required by law or system policy, and voluntary programs are often more related to personal inter- ests, such as financial planning, education, health and fitness, and family and relationships. For smaller transit systems, it may be possible to "piggyback" on the professional development opportunities of other local organizations or departments, particularly if the transit system is a department within a local government or a larger organization. Alternately, the transit system could team up with other like-minded organizations, such as other local transit systems through the state transit association, or local non-profit organizations which also operate transportation services, to offer professional development opportunities through a consortium or other shared effort. Ongoing Training Training is a recruitment tool, offering an initial investment, and it is also a retention tool, offering continued investment. Ongoing training keeps employees abreast of rules, regulations, policies, procedures, products, and operations issues that affect their daily work. Retraining can

OCR for page 73
Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Staff 77 be provided in several ways, during employee meetings, scheduled training sessions, and in- service training sessions. Topics covered may be legally required, required by policy, simply informational, and/or current issue related. Conducting group training offers opportunities for employees to interact with one another, and for the managers to enforce its commitment to employees. Group training is successful for general topics that apply to everyone. One-on-one training is commonly used to address an indi- vidual's performance-related problems, often discovered through an evaluation or observation. The challenge for many smaller transit systems is fitting training into busy schedules. Often smaller transit systems budget to pay employees to report for group training when the system is not in operation (for example, on a Saturday or holiday). Or, they hold multiple training ses- sions on a particular subject so employees can be trained at the end of each shift. Cross Training Cross training can be provided as a general orientation, so that everyone understands each others' roles in the organization, or more in-depth, for promotional and support purposes. As most smaller systems have limited support staff, absenteeism can contribute to an overall back- log if the absent employee's daily work assignments are not completed. Having a cross trained staff allows for temporary reassignments in order to keep the process flowing. Again because of low staff levels and frequent driver shortages, a common part of many job descriptions includes driving when necessary. Should a dispatcher need to spend a day driving, someone else in the office needs to be able to immediately fill the role of dispatcher. Cross training also provides employees with an opportunity to test out other positions that they may be interested in within the organization, or at least to give them a better taste of the duties and workload of the other positions. A person trained to fulfill other roles may be an excellent candidate in the event of a vacancy, either in a permanent or temporary/acting role. Should that person be hired into the position, their learning curve is shorter as they already have direct experience and the amount of introductory training required may be reduced. Professional Certifications Certification programs are available in all subject areas for all levels of employees. Frequently cited programs include those for drivers such as Passenger Assistance, Emergency Procedures, and Safe Driving. Mechanics can receive certification through dealer programs, manufacturer programs, and skills programs, such as that offered through ASE. Administrative programs include those in software applications and network management. Management programs are available in supervisory topics, finance, leadership, and in numerous transit specific topics. Most of these programs can be accessed locally through community college and adult education pro- grams; others are offered by national and state programs and associations and through confer- ences and trade shows. There are many nationally offered seminar-type training programs avail- able as well as internet-based training programs. Trade certifications are frequently associated with wage differentials or pay incentives and pro- motional opportunities. Peer Mentoring Throughout the probationary period and sometimes longer, many transit systems have imple- mented mentoring programs. The purpose of the mentoring program is to provide new employ- ees with close supervision at the hands of an experienced peer. Structured mentoring programs include goal development, regular follow-up, and scheduled counseling and training sessions. However, smaller systems may want to create a less formal program. Mentors are frequently senior employees with excellent employment records, who volunteer for this additional responsibility. Incentives may be provided to the mentor, including pay

OCR for page 73
78 Employee Compensation Guidelines for Transit Providers in Rural and Small Urban Areas differentials and/or other compensation. In systems where promotional opportunities are lim- ited, the mentor program provides additional responsibility and respect for those who volun- teer, and also increases the level of employee involvement in the delivery of quality services. Employee Ownership Developing trust and loyalty is essential to retaining good employees. Being involved in the management, direction, and success of the transit system builds a sense of ownership and per- sonal pride among employees. Many larger systems have created employee steering committees, focus groups, and teams where employees are tasked with developing new programs and poli- cies, addressing management and service issues, rolling out new programs, and creating or plan- ning incentive programs is an effective way to ensure employee participation. Involvement improves everyone's understanding of the dynamics of the organization, and is often credited with the success of new programs and initiatives, as employees develop a sense of personal responsibility toward improving their own environment. Such approaches may be adapted to and quite effective at smaller transit systems so that employee input is both solicited and used to improve the services provided. A simple approach is to establish groups of employees around particular topics or concerns. Such groups give employees a chance to share their thoughts and interact with managers, help to foster the team environment, and give employees a sense of involvement and ownership. Common committees include: Safety Committee Many transit systems cited being flexible with Accident Review Committee scheduling and considering employees' personal needs Employee Recognition Committee as contributing to a great work environment; Party and Recreation Committee especially since many small transit systems have part- Project Committees time employees, many of which are single parents, retired persons, and second wage earners, employees' Every job and every function is important to the overall personal lives are more sensitive to family needs. organization, and, in most cases, each individual job relies or Making schedule accommodations, changing shifts, directly supports others. Ways to foster teamwork in an organi- relaxing attendance policies, and permitting zation include group assignments or team based competitions, employees to transport children or bring them to work development of employee committees and task forces, devel- in the event of an emergency are ways to minimize opment of interdependent goals and objectives, establishment the impact of personal situations both on the program of mentoring or peer programs, and the creation of incentive and on the employee. plans that depend on the performance of the overall group rather than on individual performance. Again, use of any of these techniques will depend on the size of your system. Prob- ably the most effective way to have your employees work as a team is to foster open communi- cation between managers and employees, which is discussed below. Work Environment Providing a positive work environment is often considered a retention strategy. Open and consistent management interaction and communications, a flexible environment, employee involvement, and comfortable settings are frequently cited as ways to create a positive environ- ment. Others describe it synonymously with a family environment, where people can have fun, be themselves, be respected and be treated as people and feel good about a place where they spend a large part of their day. Little things that make work more personal include: Employee Newsletters Birthday cakes, cards, and gifts (movie passes, lunch certificates)

OCR for page 73
Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Staff 79 Employee outings, teams, games, and contests Holiday parties, picnics, awards events Spontaneous lunches, cookouts, breakfasts Management walk arounds Open Communications It is important that all managers practice this open Open communications helps to foster a team environment, approach, up to and including Boards of Directors. and encourages employee involvement. Employees should be Where systems are part of a larger organization, encouraged to share their opinions with managers and to ask the departmental nature can limit some of the for assistance when needed. Employee needs and concerns opportunities for direct communication between should always be followed up on and treated as important, no employees and managers. When this is the case, the matter how significant they are in the grand scheme of things. local supervisors or site managers must make more Employees should have opportunities to file complaints or efforts to understand their employees and be able to grievances, and should never be discouraged from doing so or represent them fairly in departmental interactions. have restricted access to managers. Employee suggestions should always be solicited, especially when determining a course of action that will affect the larger group. Staff meetings, employee surveys, suggestion boxes, train- ing reviews, performance reviews, and daily interaction can be helpful in soliciting employee input and in maintaining an open environment. Management Interaction Frequent, consistent manager/employee interaction is important to creating an open envi- ronment. More importantly, however, is that this interaction not always be negative or discipli- nary in nature. Managers and supervisors should make conscious efforts to communicate with employees on a regular basis, not only for the purpose of correction or discipline. Positive com- munications foster the team and family environment, removing the barriers between employees and managers (us vs. them) and promoting partnerships and common goals. Some interaction takes place formally, others less formally. Opportunities include: Training Sessions In small transit systems, training is often provided by staff members or managers. Allowing employees to present training on topics that interest them is a way to encourage individual involvement and foster both the management-employee relationship and the peer relationship. Monthly Meetings In many cases monthly meetings are held for the purposes of providing information or other training about the workplace. These meetings provide a good opportu- nity for managers to initiate open communications. Employees, particularly those closest to operations, need an opportunity to express problems or issues that affect the entire group, and this is a good place for this to happen. Controlling the situation, especially when emotional topics are discussed, can be difficult, but these opportunities need not be seen as gripe sessions. Employees should be encouraged to make suggestions for resolving problems in addition to identifying them. Direct Observation Employee observations, including ride alongs, shadowing, or on-site observations, give managers the opportunity to observe an employee in their operating envi- ronment. Situations encountered can initiate conversations where better understanding can be gained and individual employee issues can be identified. Some issues may be addressed immediately during this time as they may be simple misunderstandings. Information may be gathered during this process as well on other aspects of the operation; this can help keep man- agers aware of current operating conditions. Informal one-on-ones When managers and employees rarely interact as a part of regular busi- ness, as in the case with some rural systems and perhaps those with satellite operations, man- agers need to plan for individual contact, and may do so by making certain hours available for

OCR for page 73
80 Employee Compensation Guidelines for Transit Providers in Rural and Small Urban Areas employees to stop in. Even if unscheduled, managers should encourage employees, when time presents itself, to stop in and chat. Spontaneous Events (Free lunch day, coffee and donuts, etc.) Transit system employees like to eat. Providing refreshments at any meeting always increases attendance. Impromptu oppor- tunities exist every day, and are a way to provide quick interaction and encourage more in-depth interactions as necessary. It is a quick meet and greet that reinforces a positive and caring management approach. Established Policies and Procedures Having well documented policy and procedures ensures that everyone has the same under- standing of how things work in an organization. It takes the guesswork and potential for bias or personal feelings out of management decisions. Procedures provide clear and distinct instruc- tion and ensure that tasks are performed consistently throughout the organization. Each employee should be presented with a copy of the most recent policy and procedures manual or handbook, and complete a signed acknowledgement of receipt and understanding that they are held responsible for the content. Orientation to the policies and procedures should be provided to all new employees during Disciplinary Action vs. Corrective Counseling initial training. In a supportive work environment the disciplinary process is aimed at correcting Consistent enforcement of behaviors through consistent policy enforcement. Part of the success of this approach policy and procedures pro- is that areas where an employee needs more training may be identified, and vides employees with a real- management and the employee have the chance to develop a better understanding of istic set of expectations. If a each other's responsibilities toward each other and the organization. Giving the behavior or action is defined employee a chance to correct the behavior helps to build a trusting relationship. The for one employee to be role of supervisors, and those in supervisory capacity, must clearly support this type of against policy, then it must environment. Providing mentoring and supervisory training to all employees in these hold the same definition for roles ensures a cooperative approach to the success of each individual employee. all employees. Should there be a penalty for the behavior, Not all employees will be successful in a transit system. The corrective counseling and it should be relevant, and progressive discipline programs applied fairly and consistently weeds out those should take into considera- employees that don't share the overall goals of the organization. Those that do not tion each employee's own benefit positively by the corrective counseling process and are released represents performance, thereby being turnover that is positive for the system. progressive in nature. Safety Focus Safety needs to be the top priority in every transit system. Its importance must be continually stressed across the organization. Providing a safe, clean work environment is a fundamental responsibility of every employer. Encouraging employee participation in safety programs helps to instill a safety culture. Common safety programs include the following. Regular Safety Training Sessions Monthly or quarterly safety meetings provide an opportunity to share safety information, including overall system performance, with all employees. Topics may be regulatory, of com- mon interest, or incident or trend related. Soliciting the help of employees in selecting topics for discussion or in presenting those topics is effectively encouraging them to participate. In smaller systems, regular safety meetings probably will be held less frequently, perhaps semi-annually. Strict and Fair Safety Management Policies Safety policies must be documented and followed by all employees. Accident reporting, inves- tigation, evaluation, and handling must be consistent and fair. Soliciting employee participation

OCR for page 73
Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Staff 81 in developing safety policies and identifying safe work procedures, as well as including employ- ees in accident review, are ways to encourage employee participation. The Importance of Regular Fleet and Facility Maintenance Inspections and Repair in the Work Environment A well-documented preventive maintenance program that provides feedback to documented employee concerns or observations will not only improve safety but will also help retain employ- ees. Both mechanical and cosmetic defects should be addressed in all maintenance inspections, ensuring that the driver's workplace is safe, comfortable, and in good working order. Mechani- cal breakdowns and component malfunctions that occur during service are frustrating to both drivers and passengers, can compromise their safety, and can significantly impact daily opera- tions. If drivers feel that vehicles are not well-maintained, they may feel at risk on the job and/or care less about their own safe and professional outlook. The drivers' role in vehicle maintenance and documentation, A clean, well-maintained and reliable fleet ensures a particularly in proper completion of both pre- and post-trip professional outward appearance, one that instills inspections, should be clearly identified during the training pride in the person behind the wheel. This will be period. The procedures of reviewing the daily vehicle inspec- reflected in driving habits, safety focus, customer tions, of prioritizing repairs, and of holding vehicles out of ser- service, and overall job satisfaction. vice must be established, and a consistent process of providing feedback on repairs completed or mechanic's findings on reported defects must be clearly defined. Interaction between the maintenance staff and the driver force will ensure the satisfaction of both sets of employees. Ways to accomplish this include having a mechanic on staff during pull- outs and pull-ins, to walk the lot, monitor vehicle inspections, and provide assistance and minor repairs; providing orientation to the maintenance function during initial training, including maintenance staff; and discussing maintenance related topics in safety meetings and in ongoing training sessions. Where the maintenance function is separated from the operations function and in systems whose maintenance is provided by another department of a larger organization (such as the city or county fleet maintenance), these strategies may be helpful in creating trust and fostering teamwork. Accident Retraining Accidents happen. Since an integral part of job satisfaction is feeling safe in the work environ- ment, for each and every accident, whether a vehicular accident or an employee work injury, a consistent review process should be followed to determine the cause of the accident, its prevent- ability, and disposition. The cause and determination of preventability should then be addressed in individual employee retraining or counseling, provided that the accident was not a terminable offense. Where accident trends surface, or where the cause of an accident is found to pose a risk to other employees, retraining should Adapt Existing Defensive Driving Programs be provided to all affected employees. Accident retraining helps to rebuild It isn't necessary for you to start from scratch to implement an effective defen- employee self-confidence after an sive driving program for your drivers. Many programs have been developed in accident, encourages safer work be- the public domain (contact your state or the national RTAP for more informa- haviors, demonstrates a commit- tion). There are also many commercial programs that can be purchased for ment to safety, and reinforces the pro- your use--with or without an on-site instructor. For example, a variety of gram's commitment to its employee's products are available on the Smith System of Defensive Driving, developed success. based on five rules: (1) aim high in steering; (2) keep your eyes moving; (3) get the big picture; (4) make sure others see you; and (5) leave yourself an out, at Failure to address the causes of www.smith-system.com. accidents and to provide proper

OCR for page 73
82 Employee Compensation Guidelines for Transit Providers in Rural and Small Urban Areas retraining increases the systems' risk exposure and contributes to an environment where safety is not a priority. Poorly maintained equipment, improper or insufficient training, failure to pro- vide the appropriate personal protective equipment and to encourage safe work habits can decrease the morale of employees and will ultimately lead to poorer work habits, increased risk, negative attitudes, a lack of trust among employees, and, ultimately, staffing shortages, wasted resources, and service disruptions. In addition to internal training and safety programs, presentations and training provided by trained risk professionals from outside the organization may help boost a program's safety awareness. The introduction of driver wellness programs, pre-employment physical screening, health insurance benefits, work schedule and break accommodations, aggressive return to work programs, and fitness for duty evaluations can further emphasize the organization's commit- ment to protecting its employees and passengers. Recognition for Safe Behaviors Whether planned or spontaneous, employees should be formally recognized for their safe behaviors. Spontaneous opportunities to simply pat an employee on the back and demonstrate appreciation for their safe behavior present themselves over and over during the course of a day. Wherever possible, recognition of an employee's safe behavior should be made publicly, boosting that employee's sense of personal pride and accomplishment and demonstrating the value that the organization places on safety to other employees. Public opportunities to reward and recognize employees exist through radio callouts, the use of bulletin boards, and newsletter bits or articles, uniform patches or pins, and special privileges (such as priority parking assignments). Planned or programmed safety awards can include employee of the month/period, zero acci- dent awards, most improved performance awards, safe driving bonuses, and recognition for adopted employee suggestions that impact safe operations. Incentives need not always be financial, and, in many cases, may take the form of special considerations or privileges or extra benefit awards (such as additional vacation time accrual). Safety Committees/Accident Review Boards Some transit systems rely on an employee-based accident review board and/or safety com- mittee. Involvement in these committees is usually voluntary, and those employees who regu- larly exhibit safe behaviors, fully support the agency's safety focus, and have safe work histories should be encouraged to participate. While creation of a formal committee or review board may be beyond the needs of your organization, these types of boards and committees can be tasked with continuously reviewing safety policy and practice, identifying risks or risky behaviors, encouraging and motivating employees to focus on safety, establishing processes for new efforts aimed at risk minimization and reduction, and determining where training may be required or may require modification as a result of risk exposure and overall safety history. Proactive Workers Compensation and Employee Wellness Programs Many systems have adopted aggressive return to work programs for facilitating an injured worker's prompt return to full duties after an injury. Some of these programs start with a pre- employment physical or other assessment of an employee's ability to meet the physical require- ments of the job. Working closely with occupational health organizations, ensuring that those who treat injured employees understand the goal of the system to minimize the amount of time an employee spends out of work, and providing them with the tools necessary to assess an employee's limitations can be critical to reducing the possibility of false claims and abuse of the worker's compensation system. Discouraging health care providers from prescribing medica-