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70 Strategies to Attract and Retain a Capable Transportation Workforce 9.3 Workforce Practices. Four workforce practices that were designed to assist in making the process of "Anticipating and Managing Performance Issues" within transportation agencies efficient and effective were reviewed, and we identified two workforce practices that were the most noteworthy within this context: Minnesota DOT Individual Competencies for All Positions Virginia DOT Downsizing Substitution Program For these two practices, we conducted a case study. Summaries of the two case studies are presented below. The full case studies can be found on the TRB website at http://trb.org/Main/Blurbs/164747.aspx as part of Volume II: Supplemental Materials. The full case study descriptions detail each practice's background, implementation, maintenance, evaluation, and transferability.
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Anticipating and Managing Performance Issues 71 Minnesota DOT Individual Competencies for All Positions . Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) employs 5,033 people in a variety of employment conditions (i.e., temporary, Minnesota DOT Individual Competencies for unlimited, full-time, part-time). Mn/DOT has All Positions identified and defined seven individual Job Type: All competencies that describe how successful employees perform on the job and help employees ROI: Short- to Mid-term understand the actions or behaviors that are Generation: All desired. The seven competencies include Key Program Highlights: Leadership, Learning and Strategic Systems o Describes performance standards and Thinking, Quality Management, Organizational helps employees understand desired Knowledge, People Management, Technical behaviors and actions Knowledge, and Individual Characteristics. Mn/DOT utilized a card-sorting process to narrow o Ensures a level of consistency across the an initial list of 67 competencies down to 10 that organization are most important to the agency and relevant to o Helps hiring managers quickly identify an employee's success. and evaluate more qualified applicants The implementation of these competencies required minimal costs and produced great benefits for the agency. Aside from the cost of hiring a consultant initially, the implementation of the seven competencies has only required HR personnel time and effort to successfully incorporate them into all HR functions and tools including position descriptions, performance appraisals, career planning, succession planning, recruitment, and selection. Mn/DOT's leadership has explained that the individual competencies provide greater accountability for employees and their performance because the competencies serve as a reference point for employees to help them understand what is expected in the job. From the staffing perspective, rolling the competencies into position descriptions and minimum qualifications has ensured a level of consistency across the organization in how the competencies are utilized. While the competencies have helped make Mn/DOT more unified, the competencies have also made it easier for hiring managers to identify and evaluate more qualified applicants. The approach was designed to serve as a foundation for Mn/DOT's Succession Planning effort in the early 1990s. The intent was to align the competencies, positive behavior, and values with the organization's vision and goals. Mn/DOT has found the program to be successful in unifying the agency, establishing expectations, and giving managers tools to use in performance management and during initial probation periods after hires. The state's bargaining units were involved throughout development of the program. In 2009, Mn/DOT went through the process of refreshing and updating the competencies for the next decade.
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72 Strategies to Attract and Retain a Capable Transportation Workforce Virginia DOT Downsizing Substitution Program. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has a workforce of roughly 7,600 full-time employees with an average age of 48 years. VDOT's substitution practice falls under the Commonwealth's layoff policy. As of 2008, VDOT employed roughly Virginia DOT Downsizing Substitution 8,400 full-time, classified employees, but mandates Program require the agency to be at 7,500 staff by July 1, 2010. Job Type: All The state of Virginia has a Department of Human Resource Management responsible for overseeing all ROI: Short-term HR departments for the entire Commonwealth and for Generation: All providing policy oversight regarding layoff mandates. Key Program Highlights: Within the state's downsizing policy, there is a o Allows retirement-eligible employees "substitution rule." Most agencies in Virginia have the opportunity to serve as substitutes not utilized the substitution rule and instead for employees whose positions were implement strict layoffs. VDOT wanted to invoke the eliminated as a result of layoffs substitution rule to help provide staff with a choice in the layoff process. VDOT requested and was o Reduces the risk of losing majority of permitted to exercise full flexibilities in the retirement-eligible employees at once implementation of the substitution rule during the o Of 370 employees who would have been mandated reduction of staff. Full flexibilities allow laid-off, 333 were retained through the VDOT to identify substitutes based on minimum program qualifications as opposed to being restricted to make placements within the same role (e.g., engineer has to be substituted for engineer). The substitution program was used to help temper morale and ease the process of terminating staff based on the mandate. Retirement-eligible employees may serve as substitutes for employees whose positions were eliminated. To coordinate the substitution program, the agency developed and maintains a database where retirement-eligible employees can apply to be substitutes for junior employees who were given initial notice of layoff. If an employee was planning on leaving the agency, this layoff process allows him/her to leave sooner with an enhanced severance package if their position was directly eliminated or if they were able to serve as a substitute for another employee. If VDOT did not apply the substitution rule, they would have to lay off many of their junior staff and then face the risk of a large population of more senior employees retiring soon after, leaving the agency with a future cost and recruitment burden. This system allows those whose jobs are in jeopardy to be placed into the jobs of the substitutes. Those individuals whose jobs are in jeopardy and want to stay are then matched according to minimum qualifications with those ready to be substitutes. The cost of implementing the substitution program has included a part-time programmer who spent 50% of his time for 3 to 4 months to develop the application that is used to track applications to substitutes and for placements. Additional cost included the HR placement team that spent 5 full-time weeks pairing junior-level employees who would have been laid off with senior-level employees who offered to substitute. The cost of offering early severance packages was substantial, yet it was predicted to be offset by the savings of avoiding costs that would have otherwise been associated with future hiring and training. The substitution program has been much more successful with VDOT's rounds of layoffs than the agency originally anticipated. The agency provided an initial notice of layoff to 640 employees in July 2009. VDOT had approximately 270 employees who elected not to seek placement leaving roughly 370 employees who wanted placement for only 109 vacancies that could be immediately filled. However, the agency was able to successfully place 333 employees because 224 of the remaining 260 employees seeking placement were able to be placed into a position using an employee substitute. The agency had a number of employees, approximately 25, who identified opportunities outside the agency and were
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Anticipating and Managing Performance Issues 73 voluntary quits. As a result, VDOT was only unable to place approximately 12 employees who sought placement and were laid off, a great morale saver. Other Example Practices To serve as an additional resource for agencies interested in "Anticipating and Managing Performance Issues," we have included a list of other practices that transportation agencies have implemented for this purpose. Additional information on each of the following practices can be found in one- to two-page summaries within the supplemental materials. Personality-Fit Recruitment Strategies Using Mentors to Socialize New Recruits The practice summaries include information, such as the lead organization, practice description, practice purpose, targeted participants, return on investment (ROI) timeline, influence of the economy, innovativeness, and resources to find out more information on the individual practices.