“High turnover and absenteeism are a plague on the transit industry workforce, creating a challenge for executive leadership to provide safe, reliable transportation to their riding communities. What negatively impacts safety and reliability ultimately impacts the bottom line.
According to CityLab West Coast Bureau Chief Laura Bliss, many transportation authorities are fighting an uphill battle, given the current shortage of operators. The first step in combating turnover and absenteeism is recognizing that they are symptoms of a deeper issue: Burnout.
Burnout is a rising epidemic among bus operators and, if the industry is committed to building a safer and more productive workforce, it must take immediate action. Burnout directly affects one’s mental state and can cause physical illness. The World Health Organization recently classified burnout as an occupational phenomenon. According to the ICD-11, burnout is “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Several factors contribute to this phenomenon.
The Mayo Clinic lists significant contributors, starting with a lack of control, including the inability to influence decision-making regarding their job.
- Lack of control may refer to one’s job schedule, assignment, or workload.
- Unclear expectations, dysfunctional workplace dynamics, lack of social support, and the inability to have a proper work-life balance also lead to workplace burnout.
Sound familiar? Due to the transit industry’s unique conditions and circumstances, operators are forced to navigate these situations regularly. These factors are intrinsic to transit and may seem unavoidable. However, there is one leading cause of burnout that can be immediately addressed, which is preparation. Specifically, preparing bus operators for the human interaction between them and their riding public.“
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Written by Danielle Hart, Corporate Trainer-Facilitator at Red Kite Project
Photo courtesy Brio Yiapan