Thursday, December 28, 2006

Discount Cards

One of the things that drives me nuts when I go shopping is this whole notion of discount cards. Every grocery store, coffee shop, book store, okay national chain has these cards that if you happen to have, you get a magical discount. Heck, they even give you a 10% discount to sign up! Now, wouldn't it be magical if they gave everyone a discount all the time and beat the competition with service and product quality? I don't think Cabela's or WalMart has these but Cabela's does have a credit card that you accumulate points on to buy more stuff - which is nice.

But it got me thinking. Uh oh, is right. What if we could look at the services government supplies and try something similar to this. Before you go loco en la cabeza on me, hear me out. Why can't I get a fishing license at DMV? I get mine at Wal Mart even get my trout stamp there. If I give them my email address will they send me emails about upcoming specials at state parks like hotel chains do? How about a renewal online January 1st so that DGIF's cash flow is improved? How many licenses are not renewed for a variety of reasons that could be handled electronically? I can print off tickets to my favorite hockey game or even High School Musical for my daughter on line. I can even print off airline tickets.

Bill Leighty and I have talked about this kind of stuff in the abstract and we really need to do a better job of satisfiying the customer of goverment services.

How about the area of pay, leave and vacation for state employees? The VGEA, state employees association, wants 6% more for all 100k+ employees. Fine. Most employees want raises year after year to keep up with COLA etc. Should we be looking at ways to incent our employees in a review of the pay, leave, vacation package? The employees I speak with would be willing to look at it because the leave and vacation package is very generous and there is room for the discussion but they obviously will want more pay. Which is fine with me as long as the work is getting done. I think it would make us much more efficient and productive.

For instance, a 25 year employee told me that he gets about 52 paid days off a year. 27 vacation days. 10 personal days, 5 sick days, and then the state holidays as well.

At our company, we do not have a delineation betweenpersonal, sick, or vacation days. An employee's days off are just that - theirs and for us, we don't care what the employee calls it, we just know that they are not at work. We just want to be able to schedule around it. Very rarely do people call in sick anymore because they know that takes away from their time off - which we encourage. Employees need to be taking time off of work; however, we incent heavily on performance.


  • Chris, you said:

    At our company, we do not have a delineation betweenpersonal, sick, or vacation days. An employee's days off are just that - theirs and for us, we don't care what the employee calls it, we just know that they are not at work. We just want to be able to schedule around it. Very rarely do people call in sick anymore because they know that takes away from their time off - which we encourage.

    Yesterday, in my 6:37 response to your post "Last One', I said:

    Want to really get a grip on this? Change the leave policy. State employees get "X" days of paid leave per year, it all accumulates w/ no limits. The only exceptions are military leave & jury duty. Period. Employees on VSDL use their 10 days, every year. Check it out. Look at excessive sick leave usage in Nov & Dec as state employees use it or lose it.

    So, we agree. Get DHRM to give you monthly sick leave usage by agency. Look at Nov & Dec. You will not be happy!!

    By Blogger Frank, at 12/28/2006 5:41 PM  

  • So you mean when I left Six Flags after 8 years of service and 70 un-used sickdays I got shortchanged?

    I know what you mean for I had a direct supervisor who took her sick time like clockwork and played the "Cough-cough, I can't make it in today" routine which we all knew was a joke. Unfortunatelt the company did not reward those who did not abuse the sick day policy...

    By Blogger RightsideVA, at 12/29/2006 1:01 PM  

  • Frank,

    Excellent idea.

    Rightside - that is a discussion between you and a former employer. Don't bet on getting them to return the call.

    By Blogger Chris Saxman, at 1/01/2007 8:27 AM  

  • Chris, I hope you will ask for the S/L stats from DHRM & publish them here. I asked as a FOIA reqest a couple of years ago & they said they did not have the data in that format & a special report would have to be created.....can you imagine that?! As a Delegate, you will not get that response. Ask for the average s/l per employee, per agency. Just use the larger ones so that you do not get data overload. Then, ask for actual s/l used by month for the same agencies. You will be 'shocked & amazed'! You will find that places like the DCE actually SHUT DOWN operations in December due to staff shortages. Sort of like the absentee rate in Richmond City government when the basketball tourney comes to town!

    By Blogger Frank, at 1/01/2007 10:48 AM  

  • Mmmm...It always amazes me how well state employees are treated compared to their private sector counterparts who do the same type of work.

    This past year I got a entire 36 hours away from the farm for a blogger convention. My dad and I only know about COLA because we hear almost everyone else gets it.

    It doesn't mean that our elected reps, and citizens, don't value what state employees do.....they are paid to much and treated to well. Unfortunately, no elected rep will say it since it will be viewed as an attack on those poor state employees.

    By Blogger republitarian, at 1/01/2007 4:38 PM  

  • Well Republitarian, "....they are paid to much and treated to well. Unfortunately, no elected rep will say it...." is what George Allen said, and when he got elected, he gutted a number of state agencies. and, in the process, made a bunch of 'privarte sector' contractors wealthy. And, at the same time, put scores of his party hack cronies in jobs they were not eqioped to handle, costing us taxpayers even more money. You and a lot of people of your mindset do not seem to grasp the plain and simple fact that 99% of what state employees do, as well as how they do it, is spelled out in law; law which is written by folks like Mr. Saxman. The LAW allows state employees 10 days of sick leave. The LAW prevents a manager from firing an employeee who just takes sick leave because they can take it. Rather than carp & whine aboiut how easy those state employees have it, why not offer some suggestions to change the LAW that will reult in greater productivity?

    By Blogger Frank, at 1/01/2007 5:07 PM  

  • Well, I'm shocked...

    Someone dare bash Allen on a blog run by a republican...

    Chris, I demand you ban Frank.

    By Blogger republitarian, at 1/01/2007 6:36 PM  

  • Mr. Saxman,

    Are you suggesting most employees would be receptive to reducing current across-the-board benefits for more incentive-type compensation?

    As a 20+ year state employee, I've been burned by the promise of "incentives" too many times to buy in. I would wager that most employees would share the same opinion. Every time we get a "great incentive deal", it ends up actually being "sorry, we can't really fund that" or "sorry, that's only for upper management (and friends)". I fear the majority of us would end up just losing one more source of compensation. I have a hard time trusting the hand that gives us no funding for the performance incentives already promised... The hand that negotiates health care benefits for 100,000+ employees and ends up with a plan that is worse than my 20-year old daughter gets at Walmart or my 16-year old neighbor gets at McDonald's!

    That would certainly not increase the productivity of the many employees who are already working to human limits with the never-ending staff/budget cuts every year. It would, in my opinion, create an even larger gap between our compensation and that of our private industry peers.

    I hope if you ask for the November/December sick leave report as Frank suggested, you will also ask for the hours of annual and personal leave lost by employees. There are many.


    Our supervisors can (and frequently do) ask for a doctor's note when we take sick leave. I don't know about you, but with our health care plan, it's not worth the $50 doctor visit to to scrape the Commonwealth for a day off... I would most definitely welcome the idea of lumping all the leave into one "personal" bucket.


    Why do you think that state employees are treated too well and overpaid? Where are the numbers that you base this on? 15-20 years ago, the Commonwealth was the employer of choice for many because of the great benefits but those days are gone. Our private industry counterparts have not only caught up with us but are flying by us with benefits AND pay. I get so irritated with comments like yours and it's so unfair to the thousands of us that have invested our education, skills, and time to work our behinds off for the Commonwealth. I can promise you that the majority of state employees are NOT underproductive, overpaid sloths.

    By Blogger Lucy Jones, at 1/05/2007 12:55 AM  

  • Lucy,
    I am suggesting that we need to review the entire structure of compensation for state employees. The front line folks should be at the table so that they will not feel like they are being victimized by any changes. Performance relative to stated acheivable (KEY point) objectives within the budget should be measurable and therefore manageable.

    By Blogger Chris Saxman, at 1/05/2007 9:48 AM  

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