Budget cuts. Staff shortages. High turnover. Caseloads that just keep going up.
All of these have real-life impacts on the state employees who provide vital services for the public in New Hampshire. Over time, the stress of not having enough resources to complete the work – but being told that you must complete the work – adds up.
What if we had an opportunity to meet with the employer to discuss workload standards? It turns out such an opportunity exists in the Department of Health and Human Services Sub-Unit Agreement (Section 35.3 in the State Collective Bargaining Agreement). SEA members have the opportunity to consult with the department on “workload standards for all field staff and all State Office staff involved in delivery of services to clients.” This is an SEA-appointed committee, and as such, SEA members are welcome and encouraged to participate.
SEA stewards and staff have been hearing concerns as caseloads have grown over the past several years in the Division of Client Services (or DCS, formerly the Division of Family Assistance). Employees in other divisions within DHHS have experienced capacity/resource issues and shared those concerns as well.
SEA staff have had consultations with the department about the workload in DCS. However, some offices continue to experience overwhelming stress because of the increased workload and the perception that the work must get done, no matter what – whether that means working off the clock in the morning or after work, or through lunches or breaks. This not only puts the health of the employees who are providing services at risk, it imposes constraints on the department’s ability to train and retain competent workers who are committed to the important work of the department.
We will be convening this workload-standards committee and are seeking SEA members to participate. Are you interested? Would you like to take part in a discussion about how to better manage the workload issues within DCS, or DHHS as a whole? If so, please send an e-mail to Andy Capen, SEA Field Representative for DHHS, at firstname.lastname@example.org.