Ever so slightly, morale at City Hall starts to slip | ParkRecord.com

Ever so slightly, morale at City Hall starts to slip

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Ever so slightly, as the recession continued, the workload increased and changes were made to benefits packages, the morale among the rank-and-file City Hall workers began to slip in 2010, according to the results of a survey taken each year of the people who work for the municipal government.

The results, made public in a report to Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council late in 2010, show morale among the municipal workers remained solid as of last June, when the survey was taken, but the staffers did not appear as giddy about their jobs as they had been in the previous two years.

The nonscientific survey will be conducted again in June, toward the end of City Hall’s fiscal year.

"It’s still an ‘A’ score in my book," said Tom Bakaly, the city manager since 2003. "I think morale is high."

The results point to a drop nonetheless. Among the questions that were asked in both 2009 and 2010, the results fell on nine of the 10 in 2010. When comparing the results of questions asked in both 2010 and 2008, the numbers fell on eight questions in 2010 and ticked upward on two.

Moreover, while some of the upward movement in the survey was modest, some of the results that were down were off sharply from previous polling. The survey asked the staffers to answer questions on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 signifying they strongly disagreed with a question and 5 meaning they strongly agree with the question.

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Some of the results to questions that City Hall leaders see as the most important included:

  • A score of 4.38 on the question, "I know what is expected of me at work?" The result was down from a 4.46 score in 2009 but up from the 4.37 score in 2008.
  • A score of 4.15 on the question, "I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?" The score was down from the 4.19 result in 2009 and the 4.17 in 2008.
  • A score of 4.17 on the question, "At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day." The figure was down from the 4.23 tallied in 2009 but up from the 4.14 in 2008.

    The results were not as close between the years on other questions, with there being consecutive year-over-year drops in some of the results. A sampling includes:

  • A score of 4.2 on the question, "My supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person," down from 4.25 in 2009 and 4.33 in 2008.
  • A score of 3.86 on the question, "At work, my opinions seem to count," down from the 3.97 tallied in 2009 and the 4.13 counted in 2008
  • A score of 4.03 on the question, "This last year I have had the opportunities at work to learn and grow," down from the 4.15 in 2009 and the 4.3 in 2008.

    "I think it is normal during a recession to see our engagement numbers dip slightly in light of the sacrifices we have all made as a City and as individuals," Bakaly wrote in a December e-mail sent to City Hall staffers and later provided to The Park Record.

    The results continued to top those used as benchmarks on the survey, some by a wide margin. The benchmarks are provided by a consultant and are based on the results of numerous organizations in the public and private sectors.

    "We’re still ahead of the game. It’s very important," said Craig Sanchez, the Park City Golf Club manager and the City Hall staffer who oversees the survey.

    Sanchez conceded comparing the City Hall results to the benchmarks is not as important as it once was since there have been year-over-year numbers compiled within the municipal government itself.

    The falling scores were recorded even as staffers at City Hall fared better during the recession than many in the private sector and in other governments. There have not been layoffs among the ranks of the municipal government, although the number of positions has been reduced and a few staffers have been reassigned. Many of the staffers, meanwhile, have received raises in the years since the onset of the recession. The schedule of salary increases was tinkered with, though.

    contrast, wages for many in the private sector have been stagnant, local unemployment has risen dramatically and other governments have laid people off.

    However, Bakaly said City Hall workers have had to pay higher premiums on the health insurance plans in a municipal cost-cutting measure and bonuses have been reduced. Those were likely factors in the survey results, the city manager said.

    "In light of that, a slight change in engagement scores is not surprising to me," Bakaly said.

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