by Keith Van Beek, Assistant County Administrator, Ottawa County
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On November 12 the Board of Commissioners received the results of the 2013 Employee Satisfaction Survey. Some staff may not have had a chance to review them and we invite you to do so. We were pleased to see the response rate stay at a high level of 66%. Thank you for your participation. Response rates for all five surveys have been:
- 2004 – 69%
- 2007 – 50%
- 2009 – 43%
- 2011 – 64%
- 2013 – 66%
The verbatim comments continue to be an important, and yet sometimes controversial, portion of the survey. It can be difficult to balance two important, and yet potentially conflicting, values in conducting the survey: transparency and confidentiality. In an effort to honor transparency, reminders were again given prior to this survey that limited editing would be exercised among comments. To honor confidentiality, comments were grouped as one and not attributed to departments or individual responses. While this does limit the value of verbatim responses for departments, it underscores the confidentiality of the responses.
Overall satisfaction is measured by the percentage of employees “Completely Satisfied” or “Very Satisfied.” The overall satisfaction of employees in all five surveys is:
- 2004 – 34%
- 2007 – 47%
- 2009 – 62%
- 2011 – 57%
- 2103 – 62%
A set of “Recommendations and Implications” is compiled by the consultant and included in the four-page executive summary. These recommendations, along with reviews by County administration and department leaders, form the following observations from the survey. Where appropriate, information about what we have or will do to further address the issue is included in italics.
- The area of employee compensation and benefits shows overall improvement, with some conflicting feedback. Good benefits are cited as second only to co-workers as an aspect “most liked” by respondents, and satisfaction with compensation showed increases of 9% and 8% from the prior survey when compared to others in similar positions in the County and with similar positions at other organizations. Not surprisingly, 15% of respondents indicated that improved compensation would most increase satisfaction. When reviewing the verbatim comments, a majority of respondents list an appreciation for the benefits offered by the County, and yet a concern exists about “reducing benefits continuously.” The County remains committed to retaining quality benefits and was able to reinstate the tuition reimbursement program. Changes in health insurance coverage focus on reducing costs, providing employees with choices and enacting a health management plan. The health management committee is looking to take a more active role in communicating the value and lower employee costs realized by changes to a high deductible-health savings account (HD-HSA) and utilizing a pro-active health management plan. The employee cost for a HD-HSA family plan, including the optional contribution of $1,250 to fund one-half of the HSA, continues to be less than the amount paid by the employee for family health coverage in 2010. Compensation saw an increase in satisfaction, supported by verbatim comments showing appreciation for increases when other organizations saw decreases or no or small increases. The wage and classification study team, which includes a broad representation of our workforce, will again be reviewing departments and classifications this year.
- Communication is clearly something employees value, both from administration but also within their respective departments. Survey results indicate continued improvement in this area, with a desire to provide more opportunities for employee input. Administration will continue initiatives such as brown bag lunches, Al’s Digest, employee newsletters and will also evaluate other opportunities to communicate and have dialogue with employees. This is supported by the new communications position. The 4 C’s Initiative (Communication, Creativity, Customer Service and Cultural Intelligence) has created additional opportunities for employee training and involvement into shaping the culture of the organization. An employee portal is being created to replace the “Front Page” to provide an improved method and location to effectively provide information for employees.
- Department leadership (department heads, directors, elected officials, etc.) was identified as a key influencer of employee satisfaction. Based upon the number of survey responses, only some departments/divisions have specific information as a subset of the survey results for further analysis and action. The “Disney Way” customer service trainings continue to highlight the importance of having all departments/courts/agencies and the management staff throughout the organization supportive of the various 4 C’s initiatives. The various employee committees will be implementing ideas to recognize and support the contributions of employees in achieving County and department goals.
Administrators have reviewed the survey results and welcome dialogue. Brown bag lunches are a great opportunity for these conversations. The survey has been and will continue to be an important tool in addressing organizational problems and hearing suggestions for improvement.