From the Director: Coloring outside the lines

From the Director: Coloring outside the lines

By John Halikowski / ADOT Director
October 15, 2020

Do you remember a teacher or parent reminding you to not color outside the lines? We were expected to have our pictures neat and pretty while obeying the coloring rules. Not a lot of opportunity to be creative and think outside the box… even if it is just coloring.

Well, I have challenged our leaders at the Arizona Department of Transportation to “color outside the lines” and help our employees find ways to balance the needs of their children while meeting their ADOT responsibilities. Let me explain.

These unprecedented times have indeed brought challenges to all of us. This is ever more apparent for our ADOT parents who have school-aged children. They had to quickly transition to virtual learning by their children for the rest of the spring semester. With many schools still operating under virtual classroom settings or hybrid models right now, we have parents who are doing the best they can in making sure their children are keeping up with schoolwork while they themselves are keeping up with daily assignments at work.

To fully understand these challenges and acquire the data to help find solutions, we surveyed our employees to find out the number of them who have children under the age of 18 and the number of school-age dependents. More than 40% of our employees have children under the age of 18. While a majority of the children are in middle school through high school grades, about 27% of them are in the elementary grades of kindergarten to fifth grade. Our ADOT parents have to be there for their children.

I have directed our leaders to talk to their team members who are struggling and to be flexible. Let’s discuss a number of potential solutions like teleworking and staggered schedules where available and appropriate. The bottom line is we want our employees to work and to let them know we are here to support them.

It’s finding creative solutions, to identify that balance with back-to-school demands and work. I call this “coloring outside the lines.”