Park City cites housing costs, commute as recruiting challenges acknowledged
City Hall has encountered challenges as it attempts to recruit staffers in a range of departments and at various levels of the municipal government, the human resources director said in a recent report, outlining a number of issues that make hiring in the private sector of Park City sometimes difficult as well.
The report was drafted in anticipation of a recent Park City Council meeting that included the approval of an agreement priced at a maximum of $130,000 with a consultant to evaluate employee compensation at City Hall.
The report offers an intriguing look at the challenges even the municipal government has encountered in its hiring efforts. There have also been hiring difficulties in the private sector of Park City amid a robust state economy. The Park City housing market, the most expensive in the state, has long been seen as one of the key barriers to hiring, and the report to the elected officials addresses that issue alongside others.
“Recently, recruiting efforts for positions throughout the organization have faced considerable recruitment challenges, sometimes resulting in prolonged vacancies and negative impacts on customer service,” the report says, adding that the municipal government “has also experienced an uptick in position turnover and overall employee retention.”
The report lists a series of topics that were broached with the Human Resources Department as staffers were departing, indicating the topics are “plausible factors” in the challenges. They include:
• “Park City has an extremely high cost of living.”
• “Neighboring jurisdictions are offering very competitive wages.”
• “Affordable housing is virtually impossible to find for most employees.”
• “Commuting to Park City is no longer a necessary tradeoff with good paying jobs closer to employees’ homes.”
• “Additional organizational expectations, such as increased workloads and regular public meetings at night.”
The report also notes the low rates of unemployment in the state and nationally, which have fallen sharply since the recession.
It argues an evaluation like the one the City Council authorized is needed.
“However, as a result of the recent hiring challenges and number of prolonged vacant positions, HR is concerned it cannot combat the compensation of other jurisdictions and does not want to recommend new strategies or wage and benefit increases without a third party analysis to better understand their efficacy,” the report says.
The housing difficulties encountered by rank-and-file workers in the public and private sectors have proven for years to be one of the top reasons recruiting can sometimes be so difficult. The resort-driven real estate market has priced out many members of the workforce, and the housing efforts by City Hall and the private sector have produced only a limited number of opportunities. The housing difficulties have, in turn, led to other issues such as an increase in commuter traffic that has left many people upset with the backups on the entryways.
“Making matters worse, housing and rental costs and availability are excessive by almost any measure,” the report says. “Locally, most new hires cannot afford to live nearby, requiring successful applicants to commute.”
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