Workforce Issues

Flagstaff_Water_Services_Bldg

Objective 10: Address Critical Workforce Issues

Relevant Standards

  • Maintain a culture and standards that retain high-performing employees
  • Provide for a safe, collaborative, and non-hostile workplace
  • Offer competitive compensation and benefits
  • Proactively support professional development
  • Plan and execute succession planning, minimizing vacant position times

Background

Flagstaff Water Services employees are required to have a variety of technical skills, take on multiple responsibilities, and often operate in dangerous environments. Despite these challenges, staff members have consistently demonstrated a commitment to doing what it takes to get the job done right.  Some staff are required to hold ADEQ certifications or must adhere to regulations tied to their specific profession and position.

Timing Concerns

Employee turnover and loss of skills is an industry-wide problem that only seems to be increasing. Without proactive measures, this means increasing reliability risks and the potential for failures that are much more costly than investing in skills and adequate staffing.


Challenge/Opportunity

The Divisions faces a variety of challenges with respect to its workforce, including the following:

  • 40% employer turnover in the last 5 years due to retirement or resignations
  • It’s not uncommon to lose skilled employees to other utilities (e.g. the Phoenix area)
  • It is increasingly difficult and time consuming to recruit qualified new employees, often taking 6-12 months to find a qualified person.
  • New employee recruitment and training is more expensive than retention
  • Loss of skills due to attrition or retirement decreases reliability and increases safety risks.
  • There is no formal system for capturing institutional knowledge or for succession planning
  • Current staffing in operational Divisions is at bare minimum, which leads to employee burnout, inability to perform desired training, and higher safety and reliability risks.
  • Younger employees are looking for different working conditions, including flexible schedules and personal technologies that help them do their jobs more efficiently.

Specific Responses

  Champion Action Items Timing
1.    Make skills development and employee retention an                     integral part of the culture, especially where reliability is             essential, multiple skills are required, or the work                         environment is dangerous __________________ ______________________
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2.    Set staffing levels to ensure proper time and attention to             skills development      
3.    Maintain strong data on pay levels and competition and               provide competitive pay      
4.    Make specific and compelling proposals for staffing levels         in each work area      
5.    Build resiliency through cross-training of staff and flexible         work programs that address emergencies and unexpected         events      
6.    Develop an apprentice program for highly technical job               functions      

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