Industry Forum

Anita Gulotta-Connelly

Managing Director

Milwaukee County Transit System

Milwaukee is celebrating 150 years of public transportation, a long, proud history of adding to the quality of life of its citizens. During this same year, Milwaukee County, in conjunction with Milwaukee Transport Services Inc., has operated the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) for 35 years. Not surprisingly, we still have some employees working here that not only witnessed the change in ownership from private to public, but worked through the change.

I have personally worked here for 31 years and there are many MCTS staff members who are in the multi-decades club. Our average retention rate is 17 years and we have one employee who has been with the organization for more than 40 years!

We retain employees by providing good, family-supporting jobs that allow individuals to become productive and respected members of the community. Our employment and benefits packages are attractive and the provision of pension benefits encourages individuals to remain with the organization over the long-term. This retention rate reduces replacement and training costs and develops a work force that is invested in the success of the organization.

I think it is also important to let employees know they are valued. More is needed beyond the paycheck. Employee appreciation day, long-term service recognition, an open-door policy and respectful day-to-day interaction are important ways to be inclusive and let individuals know that their work is appreciated.

Beyond this, good communication is extremely important, particularly during these challenging economic times, when services are being reduced, and the future of their jobs is discussed every week in the newspaper. This is no easy task with 1,200 employees, most of them working independently out on the street. Several years ago, we initiated an e-Newsletter that is delivered to employees’ work or home email every two to four weeks. Tough discussions happen in this venue. Employees are given firsthand knowledge about budget, legislative issues, route cuts and personnel changes. We are also exploring other options, such as electronic displays at the stations, to improve our connections.

Finally, we continue to remind employees of our ultimate mission. We make it possible for hundreds of thousands of people to get to work, school, shopping and all of the services essential for life. Despite the day-to-day challenges, people are proud to work here and to know that they are making a difference in our community.