While the leaders of the Culture and Heritage Museums defend the museum against recent criticism, a survey shows that employee satisfaction is high, with pay, communication and the organization's focus being areas in need of improvement.
The employee satisfaction survey results were presented at a four-hour museum board meeting Tuesday night that drew a crowd of future and current York County Council members, as well as museum staff members who came to show support for the organization and express frustration with recent criticism.
Museum leaders decided to have California-based Insightlink Communications conduct the survey after ex-employees complained of a hostile work environment.
The survey report follows the announcement of the county's plans to restructure its cultural agencies, bringing the museum's employees under direct supervision of the county manager and possibly dissolving the museum board.
On Tuesday night, museum leaders expressed worries over the future of the museum in light of possible changes to how the museum is governed. While County Manager Jim Baker maintains otherwise, some fear that the proposed changes are a reaction to criticism of the museum's leadership coming from the County Council level and the museum board.
After county leaders had trickled out of the meeting, staffers took the floor, expressing sometimes tearful concerns over recent criticism against the museum coming from members of the commission and the county.
A few commissioners criticized the museum leadership, arguing that they've been too focused on the 400-acre McColl property donated to the museum's fundraising arm over a decade ago for the purpose of a new museum along the Catawba River in Fort Mill Township.
Commissioner Robert Walker criticized the commission for not being good stewards of taxpayers' money and argued for a review of museum salaries.
Others challenged museum critics as being lone voices with other motives.
"It's pretty clear that so much of what's been driving this is not seeking efficiency, but personality conflicts," said commissioner Fred Faircloth.
But according to the survey, which compares the museum's performance to similar institutions nationwide, satisfaction among museum employees beats national benchmarks, while there are areas for improvement. Of the museum's 72 employees, about 85 percent responded to the survey.
According to the survey, employees:
Are highly committed
Believe their work contributes to the success of the organization
Feel there's a satisfactory balance between work and personal responsibilities
Have adequate authority to do their jobs, and adequate materials and equipment
Have the opportunity to learn new skills and grow
Organizational weaknesses include:
A lack of focus or clear priorities
Museum board could be more supportive
Heavy workloads: one-third of respondents feel stretched too thin
Upper management could listen and respond to employees' concerns more effectively
Poor pay: over 70 percent of respondents said they weren't paid enough
While reported dissatisfaction lies below the national benchmarks, the museum should focus on ways to improve employee satisfaction, said commissioner Karen Kedrowski, who presented the survey.
"There's a concern about focus, and we're hearing this come up in a lot of ways and I think this is a legitimate concern," she said. "We want satisfied people and people who are committed to the organization."
Museum leaders said they plan to address the concerns raised in the survey.