At Concordia, contracts that require work on weekends and holidays broke the mold of the regular school schedule and are a mixed blessing for staff, Rice says. “It does provide summer work, rather than nine-month work,” she says.
“But it was a much harder adjustment than I thought it would be to have people working holidays, breaks and weekends. For example, at the jail, they don't have any time off from being in jail, so in turn, we didn't have that time off, either.”
There were other adjustments, as well, Rice recalls. She found that you have to retrain staff to think differently.
“Instead of an employee saying, ‘I'm making a big pot of chili. Now it's done.’ They have to complete its production, then split it up and identify where it's going, ensuring the right amounts are packaged and labeled. We worked with the staff as best we could to make the transition easier. For example, we got labels that were easier to make.”
It took quite a while for the staff to get accustomed to the new hours, especially, Rice says, but the blow was softened by offering a choice of time-and-a-half pay and a day off, or two-and-a-half times pay for working holidays. Now, a “volunteer system” is in place, where employees sign up for which holidays they want to work on a big list once a year. “We really made it financially lucrative, and it's been working well,” Rice says