Many roads to a job

Dusting, emptying garbage, waxing floors – these aren’t fun jobs, but somebody has to do them.

And on a campus the size of BGSU, these tasks require the help of an entire set of maintenance and custodial workers.

But where – and how – does the University find the people who keep grounds neat and the Union clean?

According to Leslie Fern, employment/employee relations specialist for the University, the process of hiring enough staff to continue the daily upkeep of the campus can be a “mammoth project.”

Fern said she often conducts as many as 35 to 40 interviews to fill as few as 15 custodial positions on campus.

But unlike most situations in which one interviewer will determine whether a person gets the job, Fern is usually one of several people who will interview a potential University employee.

“Everything is committeebased,” Fern said of the hiring process. “The decision to hire a new custodian is not left up to one person, it’s up to the committee.”

That committee is generally made up of the potential employee’s would-be peers, either working at the same or slightly higher position level in a job similar to the one for which the employee is interviewing.

The reason behind committee- based decision making in the hiring process stems from the fact that the University is a state institution accepting state funds, Fern said, and it must abide by a sometimes stricter set of rules concerning who it employs.

“Our hiring process is intense from a scheduling perspective,” Fern said. “It poses its challenges, but that’s to be expected in higher education.”

Additionally, the University must follow state specifications as to what job it can create, what jobs can be offered, and even what duties those jobs should entail.

For example, a “custodial 1” position may include light dusting and garbage collecting, but a “custodial 2” position may include those same responsibilities, plus additional duties such as managing lower staff or doing afterhours clean-up.

If employees feel they are completing the daily tasks of a higher position, they can meet with Fern to negotiate a change in title, which is often accompanied by a pay raise.

The possibility for promotion keeps staff members around longer and as a result, turnover isn’t as high as some may think for these positions, Fern said. But promotion isn’t always the reason that employees choose to stay.

“Working at the University, you get to be a part of an awesome culture,” she said. “Our workers are gaining broader skill bases, experience and most of all the opportunity to reinvest in themselves.”

Since 1997, the University has had an exclusive contract with Supplemental Staffing, an employment agency, to supply its temporary help.

Christine McKenzie, Supplemental Staffing’s branch manager, said her company’s screening process strives to provide a low turnover rate for the jobs it helps the University fill, which range from custodial to clerical.

“We screen candidates as well as we can before we place them out at the University,” McKenzie said. “We point them in other areas if they don’t seem to fit the job they’re applying for. We don’t just throw bodies at the positions.”