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OCR for page 42
42 Wages Offered Demands of the Job Fringe Benefits Offered Dissatisfaction with Work Shift Assigned Lack of Opportunities for Advancement Lack of Support from Dispatch/Supervisors Lack of Recognition and Performance Incentives Procedures for Resolving Issues/Grievances 0 1 2 3 4 5 Private Contractors Public Agencies Figure 3-11. Factors that impact vehicle operator retention. retention (2.9 of 5 rating), followed by demands of the job retention that were not on the list. The following was the only (2.7). Wages had an average rating of 2.5, followed by lack of comment that was received: opportunities for advancement at 2.2, and lack of recognition and performance incentives at 2.1. Paratransit operators are paid considerably less than fixed- route operators and light rail operators. They feel that being a Private contractors indicated, on average, that wages paratransit operator is more physically and mentally demanding were the most significant issue affecting retention (3.9 out than bus or rail and that they are not recognized financially for of 5). The demands of the job were second for private con- the level of service they provide. tractors (3.7), followed by poor fringe benefits (3.3), and dissatisfaction with the work shifts assigned (3.0). Lack of Efforts Made To Improve Retention dispatch support rated an average of 2.6, lack of opportu- nities for advancement rated an average of 2.5, and lack of Respondents were asked to indicate what types of efforts had recognition and performance incentives rated an average been made to improve the retention of ADA paratransit oper- of 2.3. Procedures for resolving operator issues rated 2.1 ators. A list of 17 types of efforts identified in the research were on average. listed and respondents were asked to indicate if these efforts This question also included an "Other" option with were "Not Used" (coded as a "1"), "Used with Little Success" respondents asked to identify any other factors that impacted (coded as a "2"), "Used with Some Success" (coded as a "3"),

OCR for page 42
43 Keeping Operators Updated on Policies and Procedures Improved Vehicle Condition or Work Environment Improved Dispatch Support Increased Opportunity for Operator Feedback Employee Recognition Programs Increased Hourly Wages Improved Complaint Investigation/Mediation Increased Training Opportunities for Operators Training in Personnel Management for Managers Team-Building Efforts GPS or Other Technologies to Assist with Job Exit Interviews with Drivers Who Leave Modified/Improved Work Shifts Improved Fringe Benefits Performance Bonuses Targeted Recruitment on Particular Skills Extended Shifts to Increase Take Home Pay 0 1 2 3 4 Private Contractors Public Agencies Figure 3-12. Efforts made to improve retention. or "Used with Good Success" (coded as a "4"). Figure 3-12 with success to improve retention. This could be due to the fact shows the responses to this question. that, as noted earlier, many public agencies already pay more Public agencies indicated that keeping operators updated competitive wages and have good benefits, particularly health on policies and procedures, and improving vehicle condi- care benefits, for paratransit operators involved in in-house tion and working conditions were the two things that had operations. been most successful in improving retention (both rated It is also interesting to note that while public entities rated 2.7 out of 5.0). Increased opportunities for operator feed- dissatisfaction with work shifts as the top issue in retention back and improved dispatch support were rated second (see Figure 3-11) many appear to have not done much to (both at 2.5). Improved complaint investigation/mediation address this issue--as evidenced by the rating of only 2.1 in was rated third (2.4) followed by increased training oppor- efforts undertaken. tunities (2.3). Employee recognition programs and GPS Private contractors rated "keeping operators updated on and other technologies to assist with the job were rated fifth policies and procedures" as the type of effort that provided the (both at 2.2). Team-building, modified/improved operator greatest success, and it received an average rating of 2.9. Tied work shifts, training in personnel management for man- for second were improved dispatch support and improved agers, and exit interviews with operators who leave volun- vehicle condition and work environment (both with a 2.7 rat- tarily all rated 2.1. ing). Increased opportunities for operator feedback, employee Interestingly, increased wages and better fringe benefits were recognition programs, and increased wages were third at not identified by public agencies as strategies that had been used 2.6. Improved complaint investigation/mediation ranked

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44 fourth with a 2.5 average rating. Team-building efforts, to all employees for them to achieve to the best of their increased training opportunities, and training in personnel abilities." management for managers all were rated at 2.2. "Operators appreciate the fact that they are provided qual- Respondents who indicated that they had used one or ity, reliable equipment to complete their work assign- more approach with good success were also asked to expound ments. Our company has focused much of its attention on on these successful efforts. The following comments were providing the operators with quality vehicles." provided: "Very little additional information is needed here. Improv- ing wage scales and benefits seem to be the negative impact "We use GPS devices for new operators which has worked on retaining as well as recruitment efforts." well, but remove them after a while so as not to allow their "We have very good fringe benefits." use as a crutch. We use operator surveys for placement of "Each time there is a procedural or policy change, a copy equipment like cupholders, storage bins in vehicle specifi- of the document is provided to each operator and they cations. We are exploring a 4 day 10 hour work schedule, sign-off for receipt of the document. This allows them to and a 36 hour work week. We are having meetings with be current with all issues that are part of the system." operators to allow them to give input." "We experienced a drop in our turnover rate for the six "All policies are posted 48 hours before policy changes, or month period after a $1/hour wage increase." updates! Have extended the training in dispatch to better serve the operators. Have added new vehicles to our fleet Responses to success with retention efforts were also tabu- in the past couple of years!" lated, rather than averaged, in order to get a better sense of "Team building very important for us. Operators are all on how many respondents had tried each retention effort and same radio frequency and this keeps each informed on how the relative success of each type of effort. Table 3-13 shows the day is going. They are always willing to help out dis- this tabulation. The last three columns of Table 3-13 also patch with a request or an operator that is running late, indicate the percent of all respondents that indicated they had lost, having a loading problem or experiencing a mechan- tried each type of retention effort, the percent of those who ical vehicle problem. Operator feedback is always had tried each effort that reported some or good success, and requested. By having a common lounge for checking in the percent of those who indicated trying each effort who and out, there is a chance for exchange with office, reported good success. mechanic and other operators. Client notes that would As shown, almost all (95%) of respondents indicated that help other operators are added to operator daily roster. they keep operators updated on policies and procedures as a Mechanical status of vans is always welcomed from the way of encouraging them to stay. A very high percentage of operators with most giving it directly to the mechanic." respondents (80%+) reported using employee recognition "Although all employees have yearly scheduled wage programs, increased opportunities for feedback, improved increases of at least $1.00, we have also given pay incentives complaint investigation/mediation, improved dispatch sup- to operators who exhibit exemplary work behavior." port, improved vehicle condition and general work environ- "We do target applicants with home health care experi- ment, increased training opportunities, and exit interviews ence, care giver experience, come from health fields--they with operators who leave as ways to try to reduce turnover. tend to have better people skills, familiar with people with Over half of all respondents reported using the other reten- disabilities, they have better communication skills. Opera- tion efforts listed--with the exceptions of targeted recruit- tors enjoy new equipment and equipment that is well ment on particular applicant skills (only 46%), performance maintained." bonuses (only 48%), and extended shifts to increase total "All manager interviews with operators for policy infrac- take-home pay (only 34%). tions are held with a union shop steward present. We are Of those who reported having tried each effort, the great- sending new hires out with GPS units. The initial stress of est success was reported with increased hourly wages (22% learning the area is reduced and operators become produc- had good success, and 72% had some or good success). A rel- tive faster. There have been fewer frustration and resigna- atively high rate of "good success" was also reported with GPS tions by new operators." or other technologies that can assist with the job (21%) and "Communication between operators, dispatchers and improved vehicle condition and general work environment management is key to retaining employees. It shows the (20%). No other effort was reported to have resulted in "good operators count, management and dispatchers care. Issue success" by more than 20% of respondents, although improv- to a system can only be resolved and/or explained if dis- ing fringe benefits (15%), improving dispatch support (15%), patch and management is aware and willing to correct extended shifts to increase total take home pay (14%), and them. Management needs to provide tools and resources keeping operators updated on policies and procedures (13%)