University of Iowa’s Cambus uses new job incentive strategies amid staffing shortages

Cambus turned to higher wages and hiring bonuses to combat staffing shortages.


Matt Sindt

A CAMBUS displays hiring information alongside the displayed route at the downtown interchange, Thursday, August 25, 2022.

Isabelle Foland, News Reporter

Recent staff shortages in Cambus, the University of Iowa’s transportation system, is prompting on-campus employers to find ways to entice students to apply.

There is a much higher demand for the services that the UI offers, including public transportation with most COVID-19 restrictions lifted and classes back to in-person, but Cambus, as well as other on-campus jobs, is struggling to find employees.

Mia Brunelli, Cambus operations manager, said Cambus needs more service on the road with higher enrollment at the UI.

“We haven’t been able to hire as much in the last several years as we would like to,” Brunelli said.

Brunelli said Cambus and the UI’s Human Resources department are working together to increase Cambus’ signing bonus from $400 to $1000. Employee wages also increased from $16.50 in May to $17.50 at the start of this school year.

Brian McClatchey, the Cambus manager, said COVID-19 was a major contributor to the staffing shortage.

“We essentially kind of missed a couple of our prime hiring seasons,” McClatchey said. “We did have people stick around, but now we had significant turnover this past year because people were finished and leaving, and we didn’t have the efforts or the ability to hire for those replacements.”

Brunelli said Cambus started the school year 60 drivers short of the necessary 162 drivers needed to adequately provide services across campus.

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Brunelli said that these recruitment efforts have seen some success as Cambus has received more applications this July and August than in past years, but Cambus is still looking for new applicants.

The effects of this staffing shortage can also be felt by Cambus employees, as well as employees at other on-campus jobs.

Alyson Holevoet, a fifth-year UI music and ceramics student, has worked for CAMBUS since late 2019, and was recently promoted to personnel supervisor. Holevoet said the job changed a lot before and after COVID-19.

“Before COVID-19, I feel like we were all kind of fighting over shifts,” Holevoet said. “Now we have, on any given week, sometimes up to 500 open hours.”

Holevoet said Cambus’ staffing issues have added a lot of stress to not only her life but also her fellow co-workers’ lives. She said, however, that Cambus employees are excited to be able to have holiday parties again and are encouraged by the high number of applicants in the past few weeks.

Alex McDonald, a fourth-year student and three-year employee of Catlett Market Place, said staffing shortages are not as drastic in other on-campus jobs as it is at Cambus.

McDonald said, while he hasn’t noticed a drastic staffing shortage, it is still very stressful to accommodate students during large rushes.

“We’re just experiencing shortages with student workers, but a lot of the full-time positions at Catlett are filled, like the full-time cooks and the full-time managers,” McDonald said. “Those positions are filled, so it’s not that big of a difference.”