City workers happier with their employer

Mar. 02, 2013 @ 04:24 PM

City employees are largely happy with their organization and their leaders, but say it still has problems dealing effectively with poor performers, according to a survey last year.

More employees than has been the norm in previous surveys also feel that the City Council appreciates their work, although that remains the view only of a slight majority, the results state.

“But the rest of the story is that that category had the highest improvement of any category in the survey, by quite a lot,” City Manager Tom Bonfield told council members during a budget retreat on Friday.

The city administration regularly polls workers and reports the findings to the council. It receives free-of-charge help from the N.C. Employment Security Commission. In 2012, 1,453 city workers answered the survey.

The numbers suggest that workers trust the city’s top administrators, and that management in the prior two years had done better in removing barriers that kept workers from doing their jobs.

Some 62.7 percent agreed there was mutual respect between managers and employees, up from 56.3 percent in 2010.

And 60.4 percent agreed that people in the organization are open to trying new ideas, a 6.9 point improvement on 2010’s result on that question.

But the ability of departments to deal with poor-performing workers remained a sore point, as just 46.5 percent of the workers who answered agreed their departments were doing so effectively.

The same question drew agreement from 42.2 percent of 2010’s participants and about 42 percent of 2008’s.

The appreciation-of-council question has also been a long-time sore point in employee-opinion surveys. In 2008, just as Bonfield was taking over, two-thirds of the staff felt the council didn’t appreciate their work.

Under former City Manager Patrick Baker, the best rating the council received from employees was 43.4 percent.

Now, 54.3 percent of those answering the survey agree that the council appreciates the city staff.

That was close to the number, 56.6 percent, who said managers clearly explained the reasoning behind policy decisions – decisions which, by definition, are usually made by the council.

Analysts caution that the overall results varied from department to department, and said there were “pockets of dissatisfaction.” Not every department had experienced the sort of improvement that was evident in the overall numbers, they said.