Dan Haley wrote a column titled, “Oak Park’s disengaged workers” last week. I am not certain what an Oak Park worker or a disengaged worker is. Are lawyers, engineers, administrators, planners, foresters and other skilled employees considered workers? Do they ever disengage?

Grumps came up in a quote from Dan: “For as long as I can remember, most of the people who work at Oak Park’s village hall have been grumps.” That left me wondering if a grump worker has a specialized skill set — maybe a moper or a funker. I began to wonder if I could identify grump workers. Do they smile? Do they sneer?

For at least 15 years, the village has had financial turmoil that challenged every person at village hall. Salaries have stagnated, career opportunities disrupted, expectations faltered, uncertainty reigned, dreams withered, and doubts became routine. Is it any surprise that friction exists in the organization? Years of change and confusion will do that to you. No one is spared from the feeling of lost trust. 

Despite 15 years of Oak Park’s financial hell and the possibility that a major recovery is still down the road, the village needs to modernize its culture. It is from the past. It is not enough to add technology, renew business practices, and energize the staff. The organization has to end the friction. The first step is to treat the employees with respect, then find out why there is acceptance and satisfaction with the term “grumps.”

John Murtagh

Oak Park

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