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54 later in the training process. It would also make the classroom Providing Support and a Positive training more pertinent and "real." Work Environment Finally, ongoing training can impact job satisfaction, reten- tion, and performance. If new operators are having difficulty The provision of efficient and quality ADA paratransit ser- with certain aspects of the job, additional instruction should be vice requires a team effort. To perform to their maximum provided. New operators should also be made to feel that it is ability, vehicle operators need good support from other parts okay to alert supervisors and managers to parts of the job about of the organization, including scheduling and dispatch. Rec- which they feel they need additional instruction. ognizing when operators perform well and offering support during difficult operating times is vital. A good overall work environment and a process that ensures that vehicle operators Tools are "heard" is also important for job satisfaction, retention, In addition to effective and thorough training, job satisfac- and performance. Figure 4-4 illustrates key factors that impact tion, retention, and performance are impacted by providing the work environment. vehicle operators with the tools they need to do the job to the best of their ability. These tools include well-designed and Workable Schedules properly maintained equipment, accessibility equipment that is functional and easy to use, and communications equipment One of the more surprising findings of the early research is that is reliable and effective. Vehicle operators "live with" the the role that scheduling plays in job satisfaction and retention equipment provided every day. Their comfort as well as pro- of vehicle operators. Along with pay and work shifts, the ductivity is affected directly by the adequacy of these tools. workability of run schedules was a major issue with operators Clean, well maintained vehicles also impact the image that who participated in focus groups. Supervisors participating is projected of the service and the agency/company. This image in focus groups cited scheduling as the most frequent source reflects on the vehicle operators and can impact job satisfac- of frustration for paratransit operators with seven of the tion. As noted in the "Agency/Company Image" section, it can nine supervisors making statements in this regard. also impact public perception of the service and company and During focus groups, a number of vehicle operators reported can affect recruitment. that poorly designed schedules and tight scheduling can be a A possible best practice is to involve vehicle operators in the major source of frustration. A female operator commented design, testing, and selection of vehicles and equipment. While that late night flex shifts are "discouraging and kind of fright- maintenance personnel are often involved in equipment ening since the system operates until midnight." They cited cir- design and selection, fewer systems get feedback from vehicle cuitous scheduling and scheduling that "didn't make sense." operators. There were also complaints about schedules with too many Advanced technologies can also assist vehicle operators and trips to be performed on-time. Add-ons to the schedule dur- improve performance. A number of respondents to the survey ing the day of service were also raised as an issue: "Schedule you noted that they have installed GPS navigation systems on vehi- a day off and then draft you to work on your off day." cles and have found that it helps new operators in particular. Vehicle operators noted that poorly designed schedules can Even with better training and more time spent on map read- make them feel that they are constantly failing at their jobs. In ing and learning the area, it is difficult for new operators to addition, it leads to conflicts with riders who may be picked- have a good working knowledge of the entire service area (par- up late, may ride an excessively long time on an overly cir- ticularly in very large systems). Technology that can assist with cuitous route, or who may get to appointments late. finding specific addresses can relieve much of the stress placed on new operators and can even assist experienced operators in finding infrequent or uncommon addresses. Workable Schedules MDCs can make the communications between vehicle oper- Dispatch Support ators and dispatchers more efficient and can reduce wait times Effective Grievance Process for dispatch assistance. MDCs can also minimize the manual Provide Positive and writing that is associated with paper manifest or with add-ons Supportive Work Environment Recognition to the schedule. As noted above, though, if advanced technolo- Management Support gies are employed, these systems need to function properly and vehicle operators need to be trained to use them. It has been Overall Workplace Environment reported that poorly performing equipment or a lack of under- (Physical and Social) standing of these advance technologies can have negative Figure 4-4. Key factors in providing supportive and impacts on vehicle operator performance and job satisfaction. positive work environment.