Oregon Department of Human Services
2.7 of 5 12 reviews
www.oregon.gov Salem, OR 5000+ Employees

Oregon Department of Human Services Reviews

Updated Nov 18, 2013

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2.7 12 reviews

                             
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Repetitive desk job

Human Services Specialist I (Former Employee)
Portland, OR

I worked at Oregon Department of Human Services full-time for more than a year

ProsDecent pay, good hours, holidays off, Secured building, one manager out of four is bound to be professional. Benefits are great and independent work is plentiful.

ConsEmployees can be disgruntled and unfriendly to new people, clients can be angry and use foul language at you, lots of paperwork, confusions about who is doing what, four managers in one building can be frustrating when they all have different ideas about what you should be doing.

Advice to Senior ManagementManagement needs to scale down a bit. Four managers is too many when they argue about the procedures in the office. One does not always pay attention to what the other is doing and communication is lacking.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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Avoid this company

Social Service Specialist (Former Employee)

I worked at Oregon Department of Human Services full-time for more than 10 years

ProsHuman services.

Some workers can get education through state which can lead to better work elsewhere.

ConsUnethical management practices.

Conditions fluctuate widely. Strong economy, staff gets cut. Weak economy, workload increases without rehiring.

Advice to Senior ManagementI think at this point only a major management sweep would be effective in solving issues. There may be a handful of decent managers there, but even they have to struggle with those higher up on the food chain. Unfortunately many of those in management are more interested in their own political potential than they are in accomplishing anything for the agency.

Specifically:
1. Management needs to be transparent to agency staff.
2. Lower management needs to be able to deal effectively with both employee and client concerns.
3. Some management need significant diversity training.
4. Management needs to stop using union representatives (who aren't after all legal experts) to help them decide how far they can go to get rid of or discipline employees. And to know how to try every means necessary to help a struggling employee improve rather than orchestrate his or her dismissal. And not let their own personal feelings about a person determine whether or not that person is successful in employment.
5. What seems to work best is when low level management is able to focus on their own individual employees and local office without pressure from above. The next level management needs to be aware of lower level manager concerns and provide periodic performance evaluation with referral to appropriate training if needed. In addition they should be able to liaise effectively between next higher management and lower management, passing on concerns and informing office personnel of changes in policy. Then the district manager would do the same between division managers and Salem. And finally Salem management would deal with the budget and the legislature and policy planning etc etc while both informing staff and being informed by staff.
6. All management should have an open door policy whereas employees can feel safe to go over their supervisors without repercussion when they don't feel they are being treated fairly. Checks and balances.
7. Management especially in a human services agency more than anything needs to be significantly experienced and knowledgeable not only in human resources, but in human services policy and procedures.
8. Management should never be hired expediently (ie we need a manager and this person's the best of a sad lot.) If necessary the applicant pool needs to be continuously broadened until an appropriate person is found for a position. Hiring recommendations should be done by a committee given knowledge of but not necessarily involvement with the hiring location -- this would help get the best people for the job.

Those in hiring need to be aware that it takes an exceptional kind of public servant to be a successful manager and that the bottom line for human services should not be a dollar sign.

I'd send in an outside research agency from a state which is accomplishing goals to evaluate all management/management structure. Solicit anonymous opinion from line staff and clients. (unlikely to get honest opinion if not anonymous because repercussions are definite and can cause long term damage. While these repercussions are technically legal I would say only just barely. A formidable lawyer willing to take on the cause might do a lot of damage to the state finances based on these technically legal actions. Just something else to consider.) It may not be feasible however to do this. Another option might be to have workers and clients to rate individual managers and then target those managers for further training and -- if not successful -- dismissal.

Set up an independent task force to both watchdog the agency and serve as a liaison between legislators and management. It is difficult for government agencies which have to comply with uneducated legislative directive and especially when management has to rely on the legislature for their very livelihood (ie they have to go along to keep their job even if going along is not what's best for the state or the agency). With appropriate management at the outset and outside audits, it works much better when the agency is able to manage its own internal affairs. In other words, leave the agency alone to do what it does best within the strictures of the budget and appropriate oversight.

A transparent committee of labor/management staff to work on improving conditions between labor and management.

At the same time the management that is now there has other priorities than that which serve the best interest of the state and its citizens, so I believe that a majority of them would need to be replaced. Although it's been awhile since I left employment, I have kept in touch and my understanding is that there hasn't been any significant change. It's sad because it used to be a decent place to work even given economic variables and the difficult situations of our clients.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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Stress, stress, stress!

Human Services Specialist III (Former Employee)
Beaverton, OR

I worked at Oregon Department of Human Services full-time for more than 5 years

Prosease of requesting time off, ease of using sick leave, stable pay and benefits.

Consconstantly increasing work load with a shrinking budget, furloughs.

Advice to Senior ManagementStop putting all of the hard work on those who are smarter and faster than the rest.
You need to realize that brighter staff will not put up with this much pressure forever. If you want any smart, hardworking personel left working there, stop putting all of the workload on those few bright ones in the office, and start evenly spreading it between all staff.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Have an ever-growing list of Core Values that their management is allowed to break at-will.

Office Specialist II (Current Employee)

I have been working at Oregon Department of Human Services full-time for more than 10 years

ProsThe reason I started working for the State of Oregon was their retirement program PERS was one of the best nationwide and the job benefits were great.

ConsI knew going into a State job that the salaries were not great but, I was ready to accept that as an acceptable trade for good benefits now and good retirement later. Now, more than a decade later, with cost-of-living, I make less than when I started, I have endured 3 multi-year pay freezes, 4 years of furlough days, my PERS is shot, I pay healthcare premiums and am demonized in the press as an overpaid State worker.

Advice to Senior ManagementFront line staff can't work for free forever and can't do the work you are expecting them to do just because you have decided it will work from afar in Salem. Even if all the economy problems are fixed within our State...DHS has some serious house-cleaning to do.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Fast paced workplace determining eligibility for Medicaid and Food Stamps. Highest highs, lowest lows.

Human Services Specialist III (Former Employee)
Portland, OR

I worked at Oregon Department of Human Services full-time for more than 5 years

ProsAble to help large volumes of people get the benefits each of them need, sometimes desperately. Huge sense of reward on a daily basis if Human Services inspires you.

ConsIntense pressure to produce quick eligibility determinations from management, while leaving little time to service ongoing cases. Lack of communication to those at this level from upper and mid-management often proves debilitating to getting clients fully connected with benefits they need or even qualify for. Often communication came by the means of mass emails from managment, to which overwhelmed field staff would often ignore in order to meet 'production' demands.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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ok, budget makes it hard to get pay raises.

Economist (Current Employee)
Salem, OR

I have been working at Oregon Department of Human Services

Prosplenty of vacation time and never have to work more than 40hrs per week.

ConsBudget makes it tough to get pay raises.

Advice to Senior Managementdont higher so many people

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Oregon State Hospital

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)
Salem, OR

I have been working at Oregon Department of Human Services

ProsWorking with the mentally ill is challenging and can be rewarding, although the State Hospital is a dangerous environment. The pay and benefit package is better than most jobs in the area.

ConsChronic understaffing results in employees working mandatory overtime and leads to exhaustion and low morale.

Advice to Senior ManagementWe are top heavy with management; we need more line staff to run the State Hospital the way it should be run.

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Very good entry level temp work... good luck trying to return!

Data Entry Operator (Former Employee)
Salem, OR

I worked at Oregon Department of Human Services

ProsThis is an entry level position at Oregon Department of Human Services.

ConsA troubling factor is an element of agency nepotism in the hiring of agency personnel.

Advice to Senior ManagementPlease value temporary (or limited duration) employees, by offering them greater advancement to full time, permanent positions.

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Home Care Worker

Home Care Worker (Former Employee)

I worked at Oregon Department of Human Services full-time for more than 5 years

Pros-Helping senior adults stay in their home, by helping them to do things that are hard or impossible for them to do for themselves.
-Health care benefits for less then full-time work.

Cons-Pay ($4.55-$10.20 per hour: With the number of hours worked, it equates to less then minimum wage.)

Advice to Senior Management-Tighten up the processes for Home Care Workers to submit their time-sheet and receive compensation.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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good benefits in uncertain times

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

I have been working at Oregon Department of Human Services

Prossolid, employer-paid benefits
low stress relative to the private sector
working for the greater good - improving the lives of the citizens of Oregon

Consmandatory furlough days, salary & hiring freezes, layoffs looming
uncertainty with upcoming agency split (DHS and OHA)
lower caliber of worker
union environment (non-management)

Advice to Senior ManagementBe transparent. Provide clear communications around the creation of OHA, which will split DHS. Managers, manage. Place an emphasis on career planning and development.

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