July 2015 Task Force Minutes

Workforce Retention Taskforce Committee Meeting

July 14, 2015

Cozetta Jones, Chair, calls the meeting to order and welcomes everyone to the taskforce meeting. All meetings are recorded and all materials are kept for the record.

Roll call:

Cozetta Jones, Chair, ASEA

Ann Clemmer, Vice-Chair, Department of Higher Education

Larry Strickland, Department of Human Services

Kay Terry, Office of Personnel Management

Ron Stark, Department of Health

Willie Jones, Retiree, Department of Corrections

Tori Gordon, State Employee

Sheila Gunter, Retiree

Last meeting minutes are reviewed and approved without objection.

Kay’s report: Kay Terry brought a hand out of a 2014 survey of pay structure of Arkansas state government compared to other states. Current turnover for Arkansas is at 14.04% – a loss of 4,551 employees out of 27,885 total state employee positions. It was clarified that this statistic is a separation from state government. Ann Clemmer, Vice-Chair, asked what time period this data came from and Kay Terry responded it was from fiscal year 2015. Kay said some of it was related to political turnover but even without it Arkansas would still run at 12.9% turnover.

Kay mentioned the HR forum was held in June where OPM met with state agencies to go over changes and listen to any concerns. The top concerns include not paying for performance and what information needs to be included in handbooks. Work will begin in March 2016 for budgets so any recommendations this committee has needs to be completed by August/September 2016 to be presented. Larry Strickland asked does the turnover report include promotions within state government? Kay said no but that she can run a report. Cozetta asked Kay if a definition of turnover was determined at the HR forum. Yes, it is defined as separation or termination from state government. Kay clarified the report Larry was inquiring about was separation or termination from a state agency.

Ann asked how many agencies have exit interviews? Kay replied that it is based on the agencies and is not a requirement. Cozetta asked Kay why isn’t it a requirement to have exit interviews statewide? Kay replied that it has several possible reasons. It could be the agency is too small or large or turnover could be so high that it’s not feasible to complete all exit interviews – as examples – so the decision is left up to individual agency directors.

Expectations of the committee: Kay asks what are the expectations to come out of this committee? Kay’s said our goal should be attracting active and younger employees and keeping them here with more knowledge and experience. Kay also brings up a big concern is that new employees are being brought in at almost the same pay as experienced employees and new employees feel like they don’t have any room for growth. Ron mentioned the implementing the merit as a bonus deflated morale for retaining employees and should be added to base pay instead. Larry brings up point that starting salary is too low and retention is a problem especially after 1 year. Private companies compete with the state at a higher salary for college graduates.

Cozetta asks what recommendations/questions should we bring to the table? Kay said a duel role plays a part 1) compensation incentives for employees in state government and 2) a career path. Cozetta then brought up do we ask the other states how are you able to pay your state employees more? What are you doing differently in your state that Arkansas is doing? Ann suggested that other states have either more money or higher taxes. Ron brought up other states do have a higher cost-of-living so that is a reason employees have higher salaries. Larry said one issue is there is no room for growth within state government. People are taking jobs that they don’t want for a pay raise because they cannot grow within their field (such as HR). Plus employees in key jobs do not tend to leave them and we cannot get new people in. Ann says one of things she hears from state employees is flexibility with working hours.

Cozetta asks is it fair to compare Arkansas’ pay rate to other states because their revenues are different? Ann suggests using data from our surrounding states rather than New York, for example. Cozetta brings up should the question we as a committee need to be asking is why is Arkansas, compared to other states, paying differently than those other states? Kay says that will vary job by job. She mentions that the pay difference tends to be more in management positions rather than lower level and entry level positions. What we should know is the structure of other states pay plans. She feels the questions we should ask is how do we encourage people to stay in state government?

Larry says another issue is how those employees are treated in the workforce. He brought in examples reasons people left his agency for another job. Examples included pay, not a good relationship with the supervisor, job stress, and workload. He said the new employees are not getting a great orientation or the support they need to stay which is why most new employees stay 1 year or less.

Cozetta asks in regards to a survey how many years of service should we focus on (she suggested 1-5 yrs). Kay said she thinks we should focus on all years of service.

Cozetta then asks the committee if we should split up into subcommittees. Kay brings up the HR forum will meet again in September/October and they will develop a comprehensive informational survey that she could bring to our committee. Ann agrees and says we should not have a subcommittee on pay plan structure if the information is already out there and focus on what the subcommittee can do in other areas.

Recommendation of supervisor training: Larry brings up that the larger agencies cannot send all of their supervisors to training simply because of the large number they employ coupled with the limited amount of training classes offered. Ann says supervisors play a big role in job satisfaction. She brings up supervisors need basic guidelines on the legal parameters of what they can do vs what cannot do. Kay agrees with Ann’s suggestion and suggests some online training for supervisors along with classes and group discussion. We need to train them to empower state employees to get the best out of them instead of going to the wrong source. Ann asked how a new employee could benefit from training. What are ways with training if they are trying to move up the ladder and show initiative?

Survey design recommendation: Cozetta suggests a way to reach out to state employees for information (survey). Kay says a survey from ASEA would be better received than if it came from OPM but they could help with contacts for all the HR departments. Ann asked Kay if OPM had any information about content of a survey. Kay said they do not have specific information on employees but they could design an instrument for the survey if she had questions or what kind of information we want to collect and she will bring it to the next meeting for review. Ann said we want to know level of satisfaction, anticipation of staying with current agency for length of time (I would like & I expect), if I do expect to leave state government, why? Tori suggests integrating with the written survey a face to face survey to specifically answer why employees are leaving their jobs. Cozetta brings up possibility of a focus group. Kay says we should try to collect data first then go out and talk to employees. You lose the scientific reliability if employees initiate their involvement. People with complaints will participate in the survey more whereas the employees that are content will not. Kay also said we need to keep the survey random, not self-selecting. Tori says it is important to follow up with the survey so employees know how the information will be used.

Dissemination of survey recommendation: Cozetta says we need to focus of 4 agencies according to the legislation – ADH, DHS, DFA, and Parks & Tourism. Kay said OPM can help with the survey by collecting data but shouldn’t be the face of it and maybe ASEA could take that role. Cozetta agreed. Larry recommended we ask about positions the employee holds so we will know the relation of the issues. Kay suggested all questions the committee develops should go to Mike Bonds at OPM and he will create a survey with the information the committee send him. A rough draft of the survey will be brought to the next meeting for review.

Next meeting date will be September 1, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.

Cozetta adjourns meeting.

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