In these difficult economic times, as public and private enterprises struggle to make ends meet, employees are severely impacted by decisions that these organizations have to make in order to continue to provide whatever limited services they can.
As school transportation budgets are cut or corporate profits diminish, employees may not be able to keep up with their own costs of living, as there often are no pay raises to be had in this environment.
Worse yet are the situations so many employees experience with cuts in their take-home pay due to such factors as decreased hourly wages, furlough days, lessened work hours, fewer field trips and activity trips, higher out-of-pocket expenses for medical insurance and other benefits (many of which have also been curtailed or eliminated), forced pay into pension plans, or being required to move their retirement money into risky stock accounts (with load charges) rather than safer state-run retirement programs (with no load charges). The list goes on.
Many organizations have a freeze on the hiring of new employees, which leaves existing employees overworked and exhausted while attempting to, and being demanded to, do the work of two or more employees.
As a result of these factors, employees can be left living with great stress in their personal lives and demoralization at work. A sense of depletion sets in as they, like the businesses they work for, attempt to do more with less, both on the job and with their families.
Workers are often in a state of shock. They may perform in a rote manner, become apathetic, or display a sense of disaffection or dismay. They live from paycheck to paycheck — “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Anxiety and depression often accompanies these reactions.
Administrators and transportation support staff suffer the same effects as they experience personnel cuts, furloughs and salary decreases. These changes cause workers to “not want to do anything extra.”
There has been much written about how this is exactly the time for workers to renew their commitments to the work site in order to be seen as an integral part of the organization and maintain their job status. And while this is true, it is often difficult to muster the energies needed to start, or even to maintain, a positive level of energy in light of the prevailing circumstances.
The questions we often ask ourselves are: How do I rise, even a little, above this? How do I motivate myself, my colleagues and my staff to get involved again?
How about trying your hand at an event that confronts these issues head-on in a positive and productive manner? An event that fuels itself by fostering a climate of hope and help as well as appreciation.
Author Randy Mazie created a poster to promote his transportationdepartment’s employee resource and appreciation fair. Download it at Schoolbusfleet.com/resources/fairposter.jpg.
An employee resource and appreciation fair may be the medicine your organization needs. It takes a little time and energy, but the cooperation and camaraderie will do much to raise the spirits of your workforce, and provide help for your employees.
What is it?
An employee resource and appreciation fair is an event sponsored by your school district to bring together many of your district’s specialized departments and your community’s agencies in order to assist employees with the numerous difficulties that they may be facing as a result of these turbulent economic times.
An employee resource and appreciation fair offers information and helps to address familial concerns as well as financial, medical, housing and myriad other problems that people face.
Many employees are not aware of what help is available through the school district as well as in the community. Oftentimes, employees are afraid to ask for help when it is available, or they feel that help is for “someone else, not for me.”
The fair becomes an effective and non-threatening venue to bring help directly to employees. They can talk with an agency representative right then and there, sign up for assistance right away or simply “grab a pamphlet and go” (hopefully to call for information or help at a later time).
It is also an opportunity to express to staff how much they are appreciated for the sacrifices they have made and endured during these tough times, and to demonstrate this by providing a supportive, entertaining and fun day for them and their families.
Not a costly affair
The next question you will probably ask is: What will it cost me?
The answer is: It can, with some creativity, cost virtually nothing.