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82 Strategies to Attract and Retain a Capable Transportation Workforce 11.1 Workforce Challenges. Programs related to "Improving Culture/Climate" are typically designed to address challenges associated with creating a strong and supportive environment where employees feel they "fit." These challenges should be carefully considered before selecting the program that would best fit the needs of your agency. For example, these are common challenges agencies face: Applicant Trust After Layoffs. Organizations that are laying-off employees or implementing hiring freezes are challenged when they reinitiate hiring. Applicants who are aware of the lay-offs tend to look for other organizations that they believe are more stable. Public Sector Challenges. Results indicated that organizations are challenged with retaining employees who are frustrated by political cycles, such as when one political appointee pressures workers to complete a project before the end of a term and then the next political appointee asks them to reverse their efforts or leave tasks unfinished. Organizations also struggle to maintain the same level of employee recognition and motivation when they are forced to eliminate picnics, parties, and bonuses because of changes in budget allocations. Retaining a Diverse Workforce. Participants suggested organizations are challenged with retaining women who decide that the nature of the work environment is not the right fit for them. This could occur because of lack of workplace flexibility in accommodating changing family or caretaking demands, lack of comfort with workplace culture, physical demands, or other reasons. 11.2 Industry Strategies. Researchers and program managers identify the following programmatic strategies when describing industry efforts in "Improving Culture/Climate" (see Exhibit 11-2). While these strategies represent the general direction of human resource (HR) departments across the nation, it is important that the specific needs of your agency are used to guide the development and implementation of a program in your agency. Exhibit 11-2 Industry Strategies: Improving Culture/Climate Strategy Strategy Description Improve the Work Participants indicated that retention can be improved by creating a safe and Environment diverse work environment. They indicated that if organizations took real steps to improve safety in the workplace, workers would be more likely to stay with an organization. Some organizations have been successful in holding regular meetings with workers to gather feedback about unsafe situations. Engage the Community Organizations work with community and school organizations (such as attending meetings and developing partnerships) to achieve the following: improve industry image, build a network of employee candidates, gain community support, improve visibility in the local community, and make community members aware of industry needs and career options. As mentioned, our participants indicated that employees often feel a greater commitment to organizations that give back to the community.
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Improving Culture/Climate 83 Exhibit 11-2 (Continued) Industry Strategies: Improving Culture/Climate Strategy Strategy Description Survey and Interview In the past, satisfaction surveys have been used to assess the climate of the entire organization and some changes in policy were made based on the feedback gained. With larger organizations, the policy changes that positively affected one group may have caused another group to become dissatisfied. Organizations are now using more satisfaction or climate surveys with smaller groups than in the past. These surveys are being administered to teams, offices, or communities of practice, instead of entire organizations in order to more specifically identify potential issues. Larger organizations found that this was more effective in meeting the unique needs of the smaller, more manageable groups. Employee engagement is another area being assessed through organizational surveys. Employee engagement is the extent to which an employee feels a sense of commitment to the organization and to the work that they do. Organizations have found that engagement typically impacts the retention of high performers whereas satisfaction tends to have a greater affect on the retention of medium performers or "worker-bees." A 2008 survey on global talent management found the following were the top six factors for men and women, with regard to engagement: (1) Having a Supportive Work Environment, (2) Having a Challenging Job, (3) Having a Good Fit between Life On and Off the Job, (4) Working at a Company that Has High Values, (5) Being Well Compensated, and (6) Having the Opportunity for High Achievement (Galinsky, Carter, and Bond, 2008). Organizations also use exit interviews to gather feedback from employees who have decided to leave the organization. An exit interview is a series of questions that are either asked face-to-face with the employee or in the form of a survey. The value of an exit interview is that the employee may give more honest feedback because they are no longer part of the organization. The method of exit interviewing varies. Organizations have found success when former employees have the option of being anonymous when providing feedback and if they are given the option of filling out the survey after their last day at work. These two strategies may elicit more honest feedback that should be considered when organizational policy changes or personnel decisions are made. Finally, organizations have started to notify employees via email and web portals when action is either taken or not taken based on employee feedback. This conveys a sense of transparency to the employee making them feel that the organization is listening to them as a collective group. Two factors that are important to consider with feedback systems to maintain their effectiveness are: (1) that some of the feedback must be acted upon and (2) if feedback is not acted upon, it must be accompanied by an explanation. Engage the Employees For newer employees, organizations have begun to implement a second orientation session around 6 months after employees are hired to go over more of the organization's history, objectives, and goals, as well as re-emphasizing benefit enrollment, corporate policy, and security compliance. Organizations have found that there is only a finite amount of information employees can handle when they are starting a new job but that they are more