The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission heard today the results of a survey of the agency’s employees on morale. Bottom line: Grim.
General sentiment: Inadequate communications, unfair pay, inadequate opportunities for advancement, politics factor into promotions, management unqualified, lack of strategic direction, politics rather than science drives decisions, morale is low.
This unhappy bunch nonetheless indicated — 413, or more than 70 percent of employees responded — that the agency does a good to excellent job at managing fish and wildlife. Most are proud of their work and think the agency is credible. But it was hard to muster a positive majority opinion to most of the questions about agency direction. The Commission itself is viewed as most influential in agency decisions, though employees think its influence should be far smaller.
And there’s this: 70 percent of employees who responded strongly disagreed with the proposition that employee morale was treated as a priority.
But note: Employees overwhelmingly oppose a constitutional change to give the legislature more control over the agency. There’s bad. And there’s worse.
Here’s the power point presentation the Commission received today. The work was done by Responsive Management of Harrisonburg, Va., led by Mark Damian Duda. Tons of stuff there.
Here also is the executive summary of the report. It includes comments made by individual employees, but with names blacked out for their protection.
The results come as the Commission experiences the scheduled turnover of members. Also, Agency Director Loren Hitchcock has announced plans to retire. So some sources of internal friction may be changing.
UPDATE: The Democrat-Gazette reports that names of employees were redacted from the report, along with names of commissioners and agency employees named by the employees, given to the public, but not from the copies given to the Commission itself. Several have challenged the agency’s legal argument that employees’ names can be protected from release under the FOI. Without entering that debate, I’d say it’s hard for me to figure how the names can be given to commissioners but not to the public. It is also hard to see how comments on agency management could be viewed as part of personnel records, though it is certainly possible to say that revealing their names could put them in some personal employment jeopardy. Good reason not to give that info to the commissioners.