If you buy into what the politicians in Pennsylvania are saying that employment or the availability of jobs is on the rise there should be a plethora of them right?
Currently there are over 580,000 jobs available in Philadelphia which is a 3,400 or 0.6% increase from a year ago.
What they don’t tell you are what type of jobs they are or what the salary is or if the employers have any type of standing in the communities in which they operate; if these companies are considered to be a good places to work.
As pretty much everyone eventually learns not all that glitters is gold and just because politicians say that there are jobs available it doesn’t mean that these are places people want to work.
So with all the opportunities available potential employees should do their due diligence by taking a real hard look at these companies before even applying.
In Philadelphia Volunteers of America Delaware Valley is one of those companies that states that they have jobs; that currently there are 26 open job positions on their website.
So what is Volunteers of America Delaware Valley (VOADV)?
VOADV is part of a national organization called Volunteers of America which has its headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia and was founded in 1896 by Ballington and Maud Booth. It describes themselves as a non-profit faith-based organization.
The Booths’ wanted to reach out and lift up people who had been experiencing difficult times; that they were staunch believers in doing service for others. They formed Volunteers of America after they left working for the Salvation Army which was founded by Ballington’s father.
Volunteers of America began to address helping those who were part of groups that were often ignored by society such as women and children, veterans, people with substance abuse issues, the homeless, mentally ill and disabled (physically as well as intellectually) and convicts that had been paroled that were returning to society.
VOADV has several facilities although most of them are located in some of the worst areas of Camden, NJ as is usually the case with residential programs that care for the underserved. They also have a couple of facilities in Philadelphia and their administration office is located in Collingswood, NJ.
On paper this organization looks good and they do try to do the right thing. They certainly do try even if it’s just with band-aids and help those that society would really like to forget . That being said there are a couple of things that job seekers should consider in regards to this company.
VOADV offers a benefits package and although it’s not the best it is a package nevertheless. A couple of years ago the company paid all costs associated with the medical aspects, but they had to eliminate that due to the rising cost of insurance as well as the budget cuts. Now what an employee has to pay can be considered pretty steep especially since VOADV doesn’t offer good wages for anyone who is not in a supervisory or management position. If you are a part-time employee you can’t afford the insurance at all.
Typically employees can make anywhere from $7 per hour to $13 per hour. The good news is that you can make some money working overtime, but that’s only in certain positions. Part-time employees are usually eligible for overtime while certain fulltime employees are not.
For those employees who can’t work overtime their supervisor can still make them stay late and VOADV will only pay compensation time if it’s over two hours per month. So if your supervisor keeps you for one hour and fifty-nine minutes every month you’ll be working for free.
Sure the employee can refuse, but it's almost a guarantee that it will come back and bite them during their performance review.
The company states that you can be eligible for bonuses when you get reviewed every 90 days providing you get a good review. These bonuses are taxable. Several former as well as current staff members that were interviewed for this article said that these bonuses aren’t always as forthcoming as the company would like you to believe. Giving a bad review over the slighest of things thus preventing them from being eligible for a bonus is a cost-saving measure for the company.
As an employee you are eligible for a transfer or promotion after three months, but if you have an unreasonable supervisor who enjoys giving you bad reviews you won’t be able to transfer which makes getting fired a probability.
The same employees as well as staff who train new employees say that there are no raises. This means for employees who aren’t eligible to work overtime will be making the same salary the entire time they work there.
In the administration building over 75% of the people who work there are ordained ministers by their own admission and despite this as well as the fact that this is a faith-based organization there is an obvious lack of some of the Christian principles such as compassion, love for your fellow man, sympathy, kindness and wisdom that many religious people embrace.
Some staff view becoming ordained ministers as a type of job security within the company; that those who are ordained tend to be promoted quickly and continously receive bonuses.
VOADV has a high turnover rate and fires employees at will often for minor offenses without any warnings or reprimands. According to employees VOADV often treats them like disposable trash.
The employees have no safety net; there is no grievance procedure or consideration of the fact that their supervisor or manager may have an unfair axe to grind. This is also a non-union company which explains the lack of raises, expensive health insurance, bad human relations between staff and management, and high turnover rates.
The company claims that they are exempt from paying unemployment tax, but this isn’t necessarily the case since under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) employers don’t have to pay the FUTA if they don’t have to pay income tax; that the two aren’t separate. Perhaps firing people is a way of getting around it or enables them to take advantage of a loop hole.
This company also doesn’t hold its supervisors or managers to the same standard as their employees. They can knowingly have a health condition and not follow their doctor’s protocol for keeping the condition under control while working as a supervisor when they shouldn’t as well as driving clients around thus putting them at risk.
As if all this wasn’t enough both past and present employees feel that VOADV is unorganized, suffers from a lack of communication, unprofessionalism, does not take responsibility for their problems as well as failures, has no upper management support, and is unethical.
This company values its mission of service to others, but that service doesn’t extend to the employees. Former residents feel that they care more about filling beds and getting grant money then to really helping them.
VOADV may even be warehousing people and lack a clear understanding of the root causes of homelessness, etc. Their inability to grasp these causes guarantees that the clients will continue to struggle throughout their lives and frequently experience being homeless.
If this company is one you think might work for you applications are available online, but each facility does their own hiring. This means that you can’t make a call back because you don’t know what facility you applied for.
The time spent between the application process to the interview can be between 30-45 days. If you’re hired you don’t start training for another three weeks so you’re looking at two-three months before you’ll see the first paycheck. Even after training you won’t get paid for three weeks because they hold a week’s salary.
VOADV likes to say that there is no limit to caring, but perhaps that's open for interpretation.