June 2015 Task Force Minutes

Workforce Retention Taskforce Committee Meeting

June 2, 2015

Cozetta Jones, Chair, calls the meeting to order and welcomes everyone to the first taskforce meeting. Members are reminded to silence their cell phones.  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

David Flake, Parks and Tourism

Larry Strickland, Department of Human Services

Kay Terry, Office of Personnel Management

Ron Stark, Department of Health

Willie Jones, Retiree, Department of Corrections

Carla Wooley-Haugen, Department of Finance & Administration

Binder review – contact information is included in case it is decided to break into subcommittees at a later date. All discussions need to stay within the meetings. Next is a summary of why the taskforce was developed. Act 1068.

  1. To study the steps the state may take to retain state employees.
  2. To consider the steps other public employers have taken to retain their workforce.
  3. To set a plan of implementation for the study.
  4. To design a survey for Office of Personnel Management.
  5. To assess the retention rates of state agencies.
  6. To provide to Office of Personnel Management the plan of implementation. The list of agencies chosen is because of like titles/class codes such as administrative analyst.

Reporting requirement – Office of Personnel Management reports back to the taskforce before October 2016 after they have received all information from the taskforce.

December 31, 2016 the taskforce reports to the House and Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs.

Emergency clause section “review other state compensation plans” refers to the taskforce looking at other states with similar size to Arkansas to survey how they match up with our state.

Kay Terry suggested including smaller agencies in the survey.

A sample retention study done by North Dakota is included in the binder. We did receive permission from the North Dakota Office of Personnel Management to use it. Cozetta notes the study is 45 pages long and suggested that is a good mark for our taskforce to hit.

Turnover rate for state agencies included Department of Finance & Administration as the smallest and the highest is Department of Human Services.

Suggested questions for future meetings include what defines turnover? Kay Terry commented on the AASIS report and how it can be separated into agency turnover vs termination from state government.

Who are we going to survey? David Flake said employees who have been with the state long enough to be trained should be a focus group.

How are we going to reach them?

What questions are we going to ask? Surveys done from other states should have good questions that we could use so we would not have to recreate a survey.

Cozetta mentioned that we also need to establish deadlines and decide if we want to break into subcommittees.

Testimony and Speakers – Rep. Nate Bell

Rep. Bell spoke about cost of interagency moves, how to improve retention, improve morale, and decrease the cost to tax payers. The current model is not working. Arkansas has a high employment rate but low pay compared to other states. For example: Kansas has 21% fewer state employees than Arkansas and their pay is 18% more. That’s $600 million a year difference.

Our goal should be to encourage policies to make the process more efficient.

State employees need commitment to Arkansas to stay with state government. For example, state troopers can go to a neighboring state and get an immediate pay increase to their bottom line. We need a long term plan using attrition to limit the number of people and increase pay.

Rep. Bell also mentioned that the committee will be asked for recommendations to Senate Bill 382 (Act 1202).

He said we need to encourage state employees to reach out to their legislators so that we can be successful in accomplishing the goal of improving state government.

Ann Clemmer, Vice-Chair asked Rep. Bell what Kansas’s state employee’s numbers were vs. Arkansas state employees numbers.

Rep. Bell said the data he had was 4 years old but at that time there were 55,000 full time employees in Kansas (but they do not have a Department of Health) vs. 76,000 full time employees in Arkansas.

Ann Clemmer, Vice-Chair asked what staff do we have available to us? Rep. Bell said if included specific state data, BLR staff would be available and also ASEA staff could help out when needed.

Anna Haver, State Employee – Compensation is an issue but so are many other things.

  1. Coaching – supervisors helping employees understand their goals
  1. Communication should not be from the top down. Encourage employees to provide input, ideas, and feedback. Many state employees may feel like they don’t have a voice.
  1. Improvement in the workplace environment. It can be stressful and difficult. In public health clinics, employees have to meet patient quotas, feel the threat of losing positions if the quotas are not met and can lead to a decrease in quality of care. For a lot of clinic staff that is a huge concern for them. After a while the employees begin to look elsewhere for work because they become uncomfortable in the current situation.
  1. Compensation. For example, Ms. Haver’s salary since February 2011 has increased 58₵ per hour but her take home pay has decreased by $16.04 per pay period. This is due to increases in insurance premiums and increases in payroll taxes. The state does offer great benefits and great leave allowances but the majority, especially young people, their bottom line is paying bills.

You have people stay in state government because they love what they do.

Cozetta Jones, Chair stated we as a taskforce have a duel role. Legislators wanting us to look at other states and their pay plan vs. giving state employees a voice.

Danny James, Executive Director, Arkansas State Employees Association addressed the committee next. He thanked everyone for attending. He stated that state employees have had the same concerns since he began working with Arkansas State Employees Association. There have been changes in pay but other concerns remain. He knows the information the committee will gather will help all state employees and offered any help he could give the committee.

Cozetta Jones, Chair suggested the next meeting date be set as Tuesday, July 14, 2015. All members voted in favor.

Kay Terry, OPM asked if any information or data OPM could provide before the next meeting. More discussion will be had at the next meeting regarding data collection.

Ann Clemmer, Vice-Chair asked what do we want to accomplish in the next meeting? If Kay could bring in some information (even if it’s not up to date), looking at things that don’t cost money, what could we do in agencies to address morale, other ways to address concerns without spending money, and looking at positive ways to make people happier with state agencies.

Cozetta Jones, Chair added we should focus on what is going on in state agencies. Work place environment, management, etc.? Doing a survey will help us determine what needs are to be met.

Cozetta Jones, Chair adjourned the meeting.


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