Today, the Board of Supervisors unanimously directed the Riverside County Executive Office to proceed with the establishment of new workforce retention strategies based on concerns that the government of county loses too many employees each year to other public sector entities.
County CEO Jeff Van Wagenen and his team, in conjunction with the Department of Human Resources, presented a set of proposed standards for the board to consider as a way to improve “recruitment, hiring and retention.” “.
The draft framework was fleshed out following requests from supervisors Kevin Jeffries and Karen Spiegel in May for the EO to assess how the county could change its policies to attract and keep people on the payroll.
Van Wagenen said a new way forward is needed as the county is hemorrhaging employees, whether through retirements, transfers or resignations, at an average rate of 1,800 a year.
“We have to look at what we’re doing to retain the talent we have,” he said.
Draft recommendations submitted by the EO include:
— improve social benefits;
— relaxation of requirements for university degrees in certain job categories;
— strengthen recruiter communication;
— make the portal for job applicants more interactive and user-friendly;
— increase compensation formulas;
— provide better opportunities for continuing education;
— organize more “quick hire events”; and
— create larger incentive bonuses.
Riverside area resident David Samak expressed dismay that the council was considering raising wages and benefits when the county government – the county’s largest employer – was already providing what it deemed to be high salaries and extras.
“You had 4,000 employees getting $150,000 in salary and benefits (in 2021),” Samak told the board, likely citing data released annually by the California state comptroller’s office. .
He pointed out that the average private-sector worker in Riverside County earns well under half that amount per year.
“I encourage you to examine these facts,” Samak said. “Look at the person on the street earning minimum wage. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in this county is over $1,200.”
Jeffries said the board should be actively involved in limiting extravagant inducements for management.
“What worries me are entry-level positions, where we see a lot of vacancies,” the supervisor said. “Other cities and counties pay better, offering better benefits with lighter workloads. We need to make adjustments to stay competitive.”
Spiegel’s sentiments were similar.
“We spend so much money to train people, put them in a job, and then they change jobs,” she said. “We have vacancies in every department because they are hard to fill.”
Jeffries acknowledged Samak’s complaints, saying “there’s a price to all of this.”
“It’s going to create challenges,” he said. “The (local) economy will not stand to have 23,000 to 25,000 employees receiving very good salaries (in the county government), especially when the economy is collapsing.”
Board Chairman Jeff Hewitt supported the EO’s recommendations, but asked for “a little caution.”
“Once hired by the county, it can be very difficult to get rid of someone who doesn’t fit in or doesn’t do their job,” Hewitt said, stressing the need for strong vetting criteria.
Van Wagenen told the board he would come back with a formalized recruitment and retention strategy, incorporating the recommendations, which supervisors should review before the end of the year.
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