Magazine article American Libraries

A Morale Imperative

Magazine article American Libraries

A Morale Imperative

Article excerpt

Juicy salaries notwithstanding, libraries must find ways to attract and keep good employees. A recent survey of library managers has revealed that many directors use their ingenuity to sustain productivity and improve staff morale.

Released by an elite library association whose name cannot be divulged in this article, the 2006 Staff Operations Survey (SOS) revealed some of the best incentive programs offered at libraries throughout the country. The response rate to the survey was particularly high because of special tax-free financial compensation offered in plain unmarked envelopes to directors who met the deadline. Among the morale-boosting ideas:

POWER NAPPING. One progressive institution has mandated an afternoon naptime for all employees. The library doors are locked and the lights dimmed from 2 to 3 p.m. daily. Patrons already inside the facility are asked to turn off their cell phones and not disturb resting staff, who are stretched out with their blankies on portable folding cots near their favorite Dewey numbers.

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FREE FOOD. One library in a large city realizes that the way to the staff's heart is through their stomachs. Selected staffers are rewarded with free meals--but only at restaurants that serve ethnic food different from their own heritage, so the program can be funded by a diversity grant. The practice is so popular with staff that the reward criteria had to be tightened and safeguards added to prevent the director from rigging the reward system in his own favor.

PERSONAL TRAVEL. Individuals who meet certain longevity and performance criteria at one library are rewarded with an all-expense-paid five-day trip to a destination of choice. Depending on the staff member's mood, the trip may include or exclude family members. This vendor-sponsored program is very popular despite the fact that the traveler is required to use suitcases with corporate logos. Delivering a PowerPoint presentation about the trip adds bonus points to the employee's personnel file.

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AROMATHERAPY. Another library has discovered the power of smell. When staff members need to pick up their work tempo, peppermint scent is pumped through the building's ventilation system. …

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