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OCR for page 21
21 "Dispatchers are disrespectful and rude." Quality of Processes for Resolving "Dispatchers sometimes don't sympathize with what the Operator Issues operators are dealing with." Supervisors rated the quality of the processes used to resolve operator issues on a scale of 1 to 5, with five being the Managers also identified scheduling as an issue that impacts highest rating possible. While the ratings ranged from 3 to 5, operator satisfaction. Participants reported that operators the average rating was 4.3, and only two gave ratings below 4. leave due to unfavorable work hours and the schedules. Oper- Supervisors cited things like open policies, monthly safety ators want weekends and holidays off. One manager stated meetings, and union meetings--"We do a lot of listening, a that changes in the schedule could result in starting 30 min- lot of avenues--safety committees, run-cutting committees, utes earlier than originally scheduled and ending as much as culture club." 90 minutes later than scheduled. Managers concurred with Managers expressed their desire to make employees feel operators that disrespectful dispatchers negatively impact oper- they are appreciated and listened to, and that they provide ator job satisfaction. opportunities that encourage operators to communicate their concerns. These programs include monthly lunches to say Improvement of Job Satisfaction thank you (for example, Circle of Excellence), an anonymous and Performance call line, and an open door policy. Managers state they spend time with operators, have suggestion boxes, and mentoring Several systems allow operator trainees additional time to programs. On the same scale of 1 to 5 used by supervisors, master the knowledge and skills to become proficient and managers rated the effectiveness of current procedures in comfortable with the position. Those systems that do a real- handling operator complaints at an average of 3.5. istic job preview during the application process and early on One operator reported that although management says in training seem to have better success at retaining operators. they have an open door policy, when suggestions are made, Supervisors described a number of approaches their em- they respond by saying "we can't do it that way." ployers use to improve vehicle operator job satisfaction and performance. Most were described in terms of incentives: 55% (5) give safety awards; 33% (3) give attendance awards; 33% Implications of Findings (3) recognize the employee of the month and/or employee of The public service nature of ADA paratransit and the impor- the year; and 33% (3) issue team rather than individual awards. tance to operators of providing an important service was a In several cases, employers use a combination of incentives to strong theme throughout the discussions. The sense that many recognize employees. The types of awards vary from system individuals leave the position because they are not people- to system: plaques, rings, pendants, cash bonuses (up to $250), oriented reinforces this theme and underscores the importance tee shirts, and gift certificates. of recruiting individuals who are customer-service oriented. One manager reported that the employer cannot afford to The expressed opinions that some individuals take the job give bonuses; however, operators were recognized with pro- thinking it is a "driving" job, only to find out it involves much motions and at safety meetings. Another reported quarterly more, suggests a need for improved pre-screening of candi- bonuses ($250) and a corporate bonus of an extra $100. A dates and for more accurate previews of the job. third manager stated that if goals are met, the employee The low level of compensation, both wages and limited receives $50 per goal met. Similar to supervisor comments, benefits, was also a clear theme. The differences in compensa- managers cited recognition programs to include commenda- tion between fixed-route operators and paratransit operators tions, gatherings off property, employee of the month, pre- were also mentioned. Compensation in contracted services, in ferred parking, recognition pins, bi-monthly bonus for safety particular, appears to be an issue that will require innovative and attendance, customer commendations, and regional oper- procurement and contracting efforts. ator of the year competition. Other examples given included Tight scheduling and the frustrations of having to perform regularly scheduled open forums in which operators get to talk difficult schedules also proved to be an important factor. about anything they want to discuss. Operators who receive Given that tight resources and tight scheduling are likely to be customer commendations also receive a letter and certificate a long-term phenomenon, a realistic approach may be to from the general manager, and the commendation is posted develop more effective lines of communication that "take the on the company bulletin board. pressure off " vehicle operators. Developing a "team" attitude In most cases, supervisors and managers stated that opera- toward the difficulties of the situation, rather than allowing tors can take their concerns to their supervisor or manager. In operators to feel like they are failing individually, may be some cases, committees are in place for the airing of concerns. important in systems that are facing capacity and scheduling

OCR for page 21
22 pressures. Dispatch, supervisor and management support in ing or not applying because they do not know the area. The these cases would seem to be crucial. Ongoing recognition of findings suggest a need for better pre-screening of applicants the efforts made by operators would also seem to be vital. to identify individuals who have a reasonable sense of direc- Poor work shifts for those without seniority was a noted fac- tion and map reading skills. Greater use of tools for identify- tor. Alternative ways to structure shifts to better share the bur- ing applicants who have map reading and directional skills den of weekend and evening capacity needs may be needed. seems to be needed. To address these issues, more extensive Incentives or pay differentials for less desirable shifts might also training in map reading and orientation to the service may be be considered. helpful. Advanced technologies such as GPS systems could Problems that can be more easily addressed include issues also assist vehicle operators who might have greater difficulty people may have with map reading as well as operators leav- reading and understanding maps.