Yesterday, I ran into a former colleague while having lunch off campus. I noticed a marked difference in her demeanor. Where just a month ago she looked dejected and beaten down, now she beamed. I asked her how she was and she grinned so widely that her smile seemed to wrap around to reach her ears. I contrasted this with the faces I see every day, which are drawn with stress and anxiety.
We’ve had a lot of changes at the University in the past few years. Budget cuts and departmental consolidations have shaken up everyone’s world. We haven’t had any layoffs in my department, but many people are leaving on their own. The ones who have left seem to be happier and more energized. Something is definitely wrong and I’m not sure what can be done about it.
I’ve noticed the same beaten down look in others. When I ask them how they are, most smile wanly and note they are getting by. One thing that sticks out is the feeling that no matter what we do, how much we do, it’s not enough. That we’re not enough. That is a big change that is not related to budget cuts or consolidations.
It is very expensive to replace people. Luckily we are still in the position to be able to replace most that leave. For the others, the workload just gets absorbed with little regard to what it’s doing to the staff.
At this point, I don’t have any answers. It’s more of just an observation of what we’re doing wrong. I guess the first step in solving a problem is acknowledging that there is one.