The real shortage is that of good working conditions
As COVID once was, labor shortages are now the new narrative of our society. Delays, decline in quality, work overload: almost everything has its cause in this shortage. Public services are no exception to the rule. The effect of the lack of personnel is all the more detrimental as their activity is essential.
And if this shortage was rather a lack of good working conditions. You know, the ones that attract good employees and make them want to stay.
Top employers understand this. In addition to competitive salaries, they offer their staff all sorts of incentives which, when the time comes, will dissuade them from looking elsewhere. Whether we’re talking about time off to recharge your batteries, a telemedicine service offered, competitive group insurance (because the employer contributes to it) or simply marks of respect, listening and recognition: several companies have understood that staff is not an expense, but an investment.
In the public sector: nothing or almost nothing. « You understand, it’s taxpayers’ money. » Still, if everyone jumps ship, it’s a safe bet that tax payers won’t get their money’s worth. We sometimes talk about the pension plan as being the last incentive to come and work in the public sector. Unfortunately, the government does not want to improve it.
So why come to work for the state? And why stay?
For school support staff: it is passion that fuels our dedication.
Why does a janitor choose to maintain a school rather than an office tower? For the satisfaction of offering children a clean place to learn. Why doesn’t the computer technician go to work for one of the countless technology companies that are recruiting? For the satisfaction of helping out a teacher who will be able to do her job well thanks to him.
Why doesn’t the school secretary go to work for a real estate broker? Because putting your expertise at the service of staff and students gives meaning to your days.
Why doesn’t the lab tech go pee testing in a medical lab? For the joy of transmitting a taste for knowledge to young people.
Unfortunately, this passion does not pay the rent, especially since the workload takes away its flavor. After tightening their belts and convincing themselves, once again, that it was worth it, there will still have to be dignity.
Valuing school support staff and other public service professions is not a splurge. It is a fair investment of the money that Quebeckers entrust to the government.
Yes, despite everything, young enthusiasts will come. They will wear out their illusions in this system devoid of humanism. They will leave or quiet quitting. Others will be hired, for lack of competition. They will not provide quality service and are very likely to be fired.
If we quantified the cost of a worker who leaves the public sector for the private sector with his background and his training. If we calculated what professional exhaustion costs due to the drying up of passions: we would be dizzy.
Why not invest upstream in working conditions, in salary incentives or in attractive conditions?
I would like to hear from the citizens. Would you be unhappy with the government giving substantial benefits to its staff in order to retain expertise, recognize passion and commitment? Are you ok with paying yourself for quality public services?
Don’t take too long to respond. Some are already leaving.
Acting President of the Union of School Support Staff of the Discoverers