A few years ago, we elevated our commitment to staff by adding “Staff Experience” as a strategic priority. In so doing, we looked at everything we did through the eyes of the employee. We strive to make the Y a great place to work, even amidst the challenging circumstances we currently face. When the pandemic first hit, we closed our doors on March 16, which, in turn, shut off the primary source of revenue for our organization. As a result, we needed to make some difficult decisions to minimize all expenses. We continued to pay part-time staff through the end of March in an effort to allow them time to transition as their lives were abruptly upended; in addition, we kept full-time staff employed through the end of April. Both of these decisions were made with the best interests of our staff in mind, even when our association was experiencing great adversity.
As the pandemic continued, we had no choice but to make more impactful – and stringent – decisions. Beginning in April, those staff in grades E-8 above, which consisted largely of executive directors, regional executive directors, vice presidents, and me, took a significant reduction in wages. In addition, we reduced the Y’s contribution rate to the retirement fund for all participating staff to 1%, which was effective in June. These reductions have remained in place since April and June, respectively. In addition to the adjustments made to the compensation package for our employees, we also made the difficult decision to place 92% of our staff on furlough. This was a dark day for our team.
On August 18, when the board of directors made the decision for our association to reopen our community centers, we were able to commence bringing back some of our staff. It was a methodical process, understanding that we would not be offering the same number of programs and services to our members. Today, we are still operating under the guidelines proposed by the governor’s office, and we currently have approximately 50% of our membership activated. We are excited to be open, and we have all worked hard to operate safely and engage as many members as possible. After a month of operation, I began discussions with the board of directors about how to proceed with the compensation of our staff. The board understands we are still very much in a contracted state, but wanted to acknowledge the tremendous sacrifice staff have made during these past seven months. It was a rich conversation, and the board was extremely appreciative of the heroic effort from the entire team. The board understands that, in many cases, staff are doing more than they were doing prior to the pandemic, but also recognizes we are a much smaller organization. Clearly, the board was attempting to balance the priorities of the organization, and they landed on the decision to restore wages 100% effective November 1, and to review the retirement benefit prior to January. The board’s decision is a tribute to the hard work and commitment from all of you. This has not been an easy road for any of us, but you have risen up to meet the challenge, and the board is extremely appreciative of all you have done.
In addition to the wage and retirement adjustments, there is an enhancement to the 2021 dental plans, to which those who have coverage should have received communication from the human resources team last Friday. In addition, you will not see any increase in your medical premiums; the association made the decision to assume the increase in cost rather than pass it onto you. Beginning Wednesday, November 4, open enrollment will begin; more communication will be forthcoming from human resources. In a time when the cost of medical and dental plans are increasing rapidly, we have been fortunate to be able to maintain our cost, which is a tribute to the hard work of Benefits and Payroll Director Dorita Rogers and the human resources team – they have been working on the benefit package for many months. They are strongly committed to each of you, and to ensuring your experience in our organization is of the highest quality possible.
I did want to include a word about the Presidential election. I refrain from making any political statement, but we are living in a highly polarized world and people may have a great deal of anxiety about the outcome. I have long loved working for the Y because we are open to all people, regardless of their life philosophies. Nevertheless, the results of the election may be very stressful for you. If that is the case, please remember we do have a benefit available through the employee assistance plan. I encourage you to take advantage of this benefit if you are experiencing a high level of stress about all that is going on around us.
I remain hopeful about our Y and our community. I feel that way because I get to work with all of you. You are a source of encouragement for me and remind me that the world is a good place to live. Thank you all for your dedication and commitment to making our Y great. You are all amazing.