This remarkable organization raises and trains dogs to assist the visually impaired. The canines form life-changing partnerships with their owners who are given freedom they might not have otherwise enjoyed. GDB not only improves mobility for their clients, but they also further inclusion by advocating for policy reforms that change how the world views blindness and disability. With headquarters in California and facilities in Oregon, this is the largest guide dog school in North America. More than 16,000 guide dog teams have graduated from GDB since its founding in 1942.
Guide Dogs for the Blind
INDUSTRY: Healthcare for mature guide dogs and puppies
EMPLOYEES: 300 employees and 3000 volunteers
LOCATION: San Rafael, Caifornia and Boring, Oregon
CAPACITY: approx. 600 puppies born & raised, serving close to 300 clients per year
Whelping, raising, and training dogs is a 24x7 business run by people who love caring for animals. Even though employees say the job itself is extremely rewarding, the schedule in place was creating significant stress on the workforce. Canine technicians and nurses worked eight hours a day, five days a week and rotated through evenings and nights to provide 24x7 coverage. However, the schedule was fixed days off, which meant that each person had the same two days off each week. This really worked well for those with Saturday and Sunday off or even one weekend day off, but more than 50% of the workforce had all their days off during the week with NO REGULARLY SCHEDULED WEEKENDS OFF. Not surprisingly, they were having difficulty recruiting and maintaining new hires who were expecting some weekends off. So even though some people may consider working with puppies “the best job”, the schedule still mattered.
We took a closer look at the payroll data, which showed that GDB was overstaffing the weekends to account for the high absenteeism, which further increased turnover. In other words, employees who never had a Saturday or Sunday scheduled off were calling out and other employees were filling in during precious weekend time. Rotations to the afternoon and night shifts were done using quick turns on a reverse rapid rotation, leading to employee fatigue. This was clearly a “broken schedule.” Coleman Consulting recommended that both departments move to rotating day-off schedules so that all employees would have some weekends off. CCG also presented several models to employees that explored both 8 and 10-hour options which would provide longer breaks of time off from the physical work of handling dogs and puppies. Management worked with leads to develop departmental-specific solutions at both Oregon and California campuses.
Based on the Employee Assessment results where team members are asked about how their work schedule impacts their lifestyle, GDB decided to explore 10-hour options for employees, putting a primary focus on the desire for predictable time off. The management team and employees are engaged in finding solutions that work for their individual groups, and changes have been made by department. CCG continues to support Guide Dogs for the Blind in improving the work life integration of all employees.