COVID-19 and Museum Workers – What is Happening?
Many museum workers in the pre-pandemic state have inadequate pay, no benefits or job security, absent or deficient HR policies, and unfair workloads. Is the pandemic exacerbating these already present issues?
Now is an opportune time to establish better working environments that prioritize the health of our organizations and the people who work and volunteer for them. We need to review funding programs and compensation levels, as well ensure that even small organizations have progressive HR practices and policies in place. Moving toward positive and productive work environments will enable our organisations to retain their skilled and experienced staff and better implement their mandates and mission. Effective governance remains a key challenge in our sector and opportunities remain to support prospective and current board members to develop their capacities to provide effective oversight to heritage organizations. This could involve making strategic planning and governance training more available to smaller organizations, and developing new strategies to attract and keep effective board members. It can also mean starting bigger conversations around transforming how public museums are governed, and reconsidering the role and relevance of government policies such as the Societies Act.
Mighty Museum has been developing a study of the museum sector. Here are some initial questions:
What is happening in small museums (budget less than $200,000; and/or staff under 5 persons) around HR and Governance?
We would like to initiate a confidential and constructive dialogue on what appears to be a widespread and difficult issue for small museums in BC – Human Resources and Governance. We feel that museum workers need an avenue to share their experiences and insights honestly and confidentially.
We would like to hear back from small museum professionals about the following issues:
- what are their workloads?
- what are the levels of compensation? benefits?
- what HR policies and practices are in place in small museums?
- what types of board structures exist in small museums?
- do HR/Governance issues impact job performance and/or employee retention?
- do HR/Governance issues impact how small museums respond to new mandates (from the CMA, BCMA, and Fed/Prov governments around Truth and Reconciliation, inclusion/diversity, and social/environmental issues)?
- has COVID-19 had a direct impact on any of the above?
- are there Governance/HR policies/practices that small museum professionals feel are working well, or that they would like to see implemented in their organizations?
Why do this study?
- To gather information: Are HR/Governance issues causing workplace stress for museum workers? Are qualified museum professionals leaving the field, or experiencing stress because of governance/HR issues? What is the extent of this problem? How might it be addressed? Has Covid-19 exacerbated HR/Governance issues?
- To inform and empower small museums in BC to ensure respectful and productive workplace