September 2017

Recruitment and Retention. How Prepared are You?

By Brian Stacy, PE
     Pierce County, Washington


Does your department have a plan for filling vacant positions as the baby boomers and others transition into the next phase of their lives? Now that the economy is in recovery mode, do you have a plan to retain your quality employees that might find the grass greener on the other side of the fence?

Those of you active in NACE, or at least reading our NACE News, know that we lost two of our finest last month to retirement. George Webb retired from Palm Beach County, Fla., as their County Engineer. George was our NACo Director and had served as President of NACE. He was very active in our Association and his contributions will be sorely missed.

Virtually at the same time Julie Bueren retired from Contra Costa County, Calif., as their Public Works Director. Julie was our Western Regional Vice President for NACE and a valuable member of our Executive Committee.

It will be incredibly difficult for Palm Beach and Contra Costa counties to replace the institutional knowledge these individuals possess after over 3 decades each of dedicated service. I know both Julie and George had been planning their retirements for some time, so internal plans were in place to insure their counties were well prepared to deal with their departures.

That preparation can take many forms including, but not limited to, mentoring existing staff so they are prepared to compete for your position, insuring all aspects of your job are properly documented in some usable format, and recruiting possible replacements at industry gatherings.

With the private sector heating up; local, state, and federal agencies filling positions that may have been vacant for some time; and impending retirements like I spoke of, it’s imperative your county have a plan to deal with those challenges.

In addition, has your county assessed what’s important to the new generation of work force? I would suggest it’s crucial to understand what motivates the new work force. Is it fair compensation? Does the benefit package appeal to them? How about a flexible work day which could include the opportunity to telecommute? Or flexible hours including a compressed work week? Maybe even team comradery?

To understand this, perhaps you could survey your team to better understand their overall satisfaction and motivators. Unless you know, how will you be the most competitive employer when the time comes to hire your next employee?

I also challenge you to observe your surroundings over the next few weeks and really think about key staff who could be leaving in the next few years. Evaluate if you’re really prepared to address the impacts. I’m positive both Palm Beach and Contra Costa counties were appreciative that these 2 leaders were proactive in preparing for their departure!

Have a great Fall folks!!

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