Many who work for city wouldn’t recommend it
BY MIKE WARREN
MARSHFIELD – A recent survey of Marshfield government employees shows roughly half would not recommend working for the city. The Employee Satisfaction Survey was sent out to city workers in June, and Human Resources Director Sarah Dresel presented the findings to the Marshfield Common Council during its July 11 meeting.
“One thing to note is not every person had to answer every question on the survey in order for the form to be submitted, so on average, about 70 to 85 employees responded to each question,” Dresel noted.
Of the 122 eligible employees, 104 completed some or all of the survey, for 85 percent participation. Dresel also said that roughly 2,400 comments were submitted by employees, in addition to their survey answers. Police, fire and library employees were excluded from taking part in the survey because they report directly to various boards, committees and commissions.
The first of 40 questions had some very telling responses.
Of the 85 employees who responded to the question, 61 of them – or 72 percent – said they likely would not recommend working for the City of Marshfield, on a scale of 0 to 10.
Those choosing a score between 0 and 6 were labeled as what the survey dubbed a Distractor.
“This employee is likely unhappy and disengaged,” said Dresel.
Those answering with a 9 or 10 are known as Promoters, while those responding with a 7 or 8 were labeled as Neutral or Passive.
“A Promoter is anyone who chooses a 9 or a 10 for a score and they are generally happy and engaged employees. Neutral or Passive are employees who don’t actively promote the city per se, but they likely do not spread negativity either,” Dresel explained.
Of the 61 employees who fell into the category of Distractors for the first question, 21 of them responded with a score of 5. Nine of them answered with a score of 6. The remaining 34 answers fell between 0 and 4.
The survey also revealed more than 52 percent of those responding said they disagreed or strongly disagreed that the City of Marshfield has a strong benefits package. Nearly 18 percent agreed or strongly agreed with that statement, while nearly 17 percent registered as neutral.
“Of the almost 18 percent of employees who agreed or strongly agree, some of the items mentioned are WRS – our retirement system – HSA contributions and work hours, as ways the city is generous,” Dresel reported. “With the 52 percent of employees who disagree or strongly disagree, some of the items mentioned are high costs of health benefits, vacation time, overall wages and benefits, all not being comparable to other places of work.
“Employees expressed that benefits that they would like to see added, updated or changed included changing or updating our health benefits, improving vacation, reassessing our sick leave policy, updating and adding holidays, as well as other ideas yet to be explored,” Dresel added.
Dresel also reported that 65 percent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, “My pay rate from the city is fair.”
Having said all that, Dresel also revealed 68 percent of respondents said they were proud to work for the City of Marshfield.
“Several of the comments mentioned being on the fence with this one,” said Dresel. “Sometimes ‘yes’ and sometimes ‘no.’ Many mentioned that they are proud of the work that they do as a city employee and what they do for the community. Some said they are proud to work for their specific department more than they are for the city,” Dresel shared.
Nearly 84 percent of respondents said they see themselves working for the city in one year.
When responding to a statement about various city departments looking for ways to work together and toward a common goal, exactly the same percentage of employees – 32.5 – agreed and disagreed.
“Some comments mentioned issues with some departments only focusing on their own projects, kind of remaining in a silo,” Dresel told the council. “Some mentioned cohesiveness between some departments but not all departments. The scores reflect that likely it depends on what department you work in and what interactions with other departments your department might have.”
The majority of employees filling out the survey also said they felt they were being heard on the job –that their opinions mattered and were valued by their supervisor or department or division head.
And while 77 percent said they trust their coworkers and 75 percent trust their supervisor or department/division head, 46 percent indicated they trust the city administrator, while just 4 percent trust the Common Council.
As for how they feel they are treated, just over half – 52 percent – agreed they are treated well by their department/division head, while less than half – 47 percent – felt the same toward their direct supervisor. Only 20 percent of employees agreed they are treated well by the city administrator, while 4 percent said the same for the Common Council.
The news was not all bad for management, though. Of those responding, 83 percent agreed or strongly agreed they felt comfortable giving their direct supervisor feedback. Furthermore, 76 percent revealed they have confidence in that person and 63 percent felt they get regular feedback from their supervisor.
The Common Council, however, is not as popular. Of those city employees responding, two-thirds – 69 percent – indicated they do not feel comfortable speaking with council members, while 31 percent said they do.
As for what could be done to improve the relationship between staff and the Common Council, employees mentioned – in almost 70 different comments – better communication, understanding and learning about departments’ jobs and employees, better direction and more guidance from the council, having the right tools for the job, and more encouragement and positivity from the aldermen.
Meanwhile, 63 percent of those surveyed said they disagreed or strongly disagreed that the Common Council provides staff with enough information and direction to understand what the city’s priorities are. Just 4.1 percent agreed or strongly agreed.
“There is still a lot more data to be reviewed,” Dresel said in conclusion. “Employees did a fantastic job of being very blunt and very honest in the comments, so I think there’s a lot of meat and potatoes for us to go through and kind of determine next steps and create a really good action plan,” she continued. “The one thing that they’re hopeful that they don’t see is that they went through a very long survey of 40 questions, provided all this information and then we, as a group, do nothing with it. So I think it’s going to be critical to pretty consistently meet and discuss and provide information as to what we’re planning to do and how we’re planning to get there.”