The majority of City of Peekskill employees have recently participated in a survey created to gauge their opinions and feelings about their jobs and employer. During Nov. 14’s Committee of the Whole meeting the city’s hired human resource consultants, Barry Strock and Don Jacobs of Albany-based Barry Strock Consulting Associates, presented the preliminary results of their study to the city council.
The city’s Department of Public Works, Water and City Hall employees filled out a survey with 42 questions, aimed to evaluate issues and draw specific findings. The consultants also have held a series of individual and group meetings with department heads and employees. During this week’s council meeting, the consultants kept their findings rather vague, giving general ideas of what employees communicated through their surveys, but no specific examples.
Their general findings were that employees feel there are many areas with strengths, but also many areas that need improvement. Employees reported that they have problems with policy implementation and communication. Findings also showed that employees said they do not see regular occurrences of harassment or discrimination in the workplace, but that there are specific concerns over that. Jacobs also reported that city workers said they do not feel enough emphasis is placed on training and development and that they do not feel their compensation matches what they are asked to do in their jobs.
The council was curious about the finding that employees felt compensation did not match what they are asked to do at work.
“They are part of unions so wouldn’t the unions step up (if that was the case),” Councilwoman Drew Claxton asked.
Jacobs said the general issue in this area is the administrative part of communicating compensation policies.
Claxton also addressed the finding that employees expressed concern over training and development. She said while that is a negative, it can be seen as a positive that employees feel confident that they have more to offer to the city.
The council generally asked for more information and the consultants said they still need to combine department feedback with employee feedback in order to create the final report, which they expect to have in a few weeks.
They broke their study into eight “survey objectives” and reported their findings for each objective. The break down of each objective and finding is below:
-Employee Relations and Workplace Diversity: The degree to which employees feel the city communicates personnel policies and procedures and implements strategies to prevent harassment and discrimination in the work place to create a productive inclusive work place environment.
Findings: Employees felt that this area needs improvement and that the city needs to better communicate personnel policies. Also, harassment and discrimination is not something employees reported that they see on a regular basis but there are some specific concerns to that. Jacobs did not go into further detail about this.
-Human Resources Administration: The extent to which employees believe that personnel administrative services are effective.
Findings: The employees feel that personnel services are effective, but had concerns with regard to recruitment procedures.
-Personnel Information and Communication: The extent to which employees believe that personnel policies and procedures including state and federal labor laws and State Civil Service are communicated in a timely and consistent manner.
Findings: Employees said they are familiar with policies but that information needs to be provided in a timelier manner.
-Management and Supervisor Competence: The extent to which employees have confidence in the knowledge, ability and supervisory skills of their respective managers to supervise employees, identify training needs, establish and maintain effective working relationships.
Findings: Employees primarily described this area as a strength and said they are generally comfortable going to department heads with issues.
-Work Group Coordination/Problem Solving: The extent to which employees feel that their work groups function as a team and that managers identify and resolve personnel issues in a timely, effective manner.
Findings: Employees feel this needs to be improved, specifically in terms of resolving conflicts. Timeliness and resolution to problems needs to be improved upon.
-Employee Involvement: The culture of the work environment and the degree to which employees feel managers and the city considers their viewpoint.
Findings: The concern here pertains to personnel policies and the need to incorporate opinions in the development of policies. “That seems to be a real critical issue,” Don Jacobs said.
Career Development and Training: The degree to which employees feel that career
Advancement is managed effectively and that skill training is readily available to those who seek it and are qualified.
Findings: This needs improvement. Employees said very specifically that often times when it comes to career development there is not much focus on the need to develop as they feel there should be. Jacobs said he could not be more specific than that at this time.
Compensation and Benefits: The extent to which employees feel that the City has established compensation and benefit standards and related processes to
communicate compensation policies and procedures and to establish internal controls to ensure the accuracy, confidentiality and consistency of compensation and benefits.
Findings: Employees said they did not feel that they are being paid based on what they are required to do. They also expressed interest in compensation being linked to performance. Jacobs said the general issue in this area is the administrative part of communicating compensation policies.
Also during the Nov. 14 meeting, consultant Barry Strock gave a presentation on the city’s information technology systems and what they need to do take advantage of programs they own and to streamline their systems.
Strock basically said that there are a few IT programs the city owns and has licenses for, but that nobody was ever trained to operate.
For example, he explained that the city owns a service orders program, but the water department does not use it. Rather, the department uses post it notes and pieces of paper – a less efficient and less dependable system.
Mayor Mary Foster asked how much funding they might want to factor in to upgrade their systems. Stock said it would cost about $30 to $40,000.
“What we are hoping to do is to give (our employees) the tools to work smarter, rather than harder, which is a benefit to everyone including the tax payers,” Councilwoman Marybeth McGowan said.
Strock said he would get an estimated figure to the council as soon as possible to help them factor it into their 2012 budget.