What other cities, if any, are you aware of, that are facing the same problem?
“Honestly, I haven’t talked with any of my counterparts that aren’t dealing with this at some level,” said Shuler. “My colleagues at the county and state level are still struggling, but they have done a good job of creating a plan to address it. I talk with local construction and consulting companies about this as well. The current economy has flooded the market with work and quality employees are at a premium. Government jobs are usually more attractive in a slow economy and less in a thriving one.”
Nick Arena, municipal services director for the city of Independence, Mo., said his department had one vacancy in its street division and two openings in its faculty division.
“I have seen where other agencies are offering a sign-up bonus,” said Arena who has also reached out to minority groups in hopes of getting good-quality candidates. “Vacancies are part of the business, and with a strong economy, it makes it hard to find applicants who have experience and are willing to come on board.”
Shuler recommended staying current with compensation and classification to be competitive with a department’s known competitors.
“Salaries are important but so is classification,” said Shuler, who added that these should be managed at least every other year to stay competitive and prevent compression within one’s staff. “It’s proven that if you enact a compensation study and don’t make adjustments periodically, it will not be successful. It’s not all about pay, though. Providing opportunities for training and professional development is vital for job satisfaction, and can provide a huge boost in retaining high performers. I would also include transparency, consistency and accountability as important things to consider for employee satisfaction. Lastly, I would encourage others to show genuine appreciation to employees every chance you get.
“It really does make a difference to employees at any level.”