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Saturday, September 27, 2003

Staff getaway


Thumbs down: Butler retreat

A paid workday retreat to help the 200 employees of Butler County's Job and Family Services Department work out the stressful kinks of their jobs is likely to leave job seekers and distressed families steamed.

The Friday outings, on Oct. 3 and Oct. 10, are supposed to help the workers learn leadership, teamwork and how to handle stress. Sessions at Camp Campbell Gard in St. Clair Township end with health screenings and a choice of - hot-tubbing, salsa dancing, chair massages, "Stamping for Fun" and yoga at the East Butler County YMCA in Fairfield Township.

Cost to taxpayers: $6,000, not including the paid workday for all 200. Staffers do have to pay $10 out of their own pockets for the massages.

"I think it's a good use of taxpayers' money," said County Administrator Derek Conklin.

Not!

Work for a public service agency can be stressful, but so are many, if not most, jobs.

Yes, brief retreats to plan better service can be helpful, and some private employers do send their people to leadership and team-building "camps." But a county department in tight budget times with more service cuts expected is inviting public outrage by blowing a paid workday on hot-tub team bonding. Butler County highway workers and other crews must be asking themselves: When do we get our hot-tubbing and chair massages? Is it time for yoga yet?

Private employers do use health newsletters, exercise rooms and other means to help relieve worker stress. That's just smart business. But if anything, employers these days expect more work, not less. None that we know of encourage salsa dancing on company time.




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