Survey of employees brings insight to the city

The survey gave city employees a chance to make their opinions known.

Survey of employees brings insight to the city

Matt Herbert

The recently released Employee Engagement Survey shows many city employees have unfavorable views on certain aspects of their job.

The survey revealed only 33 percent of respondents agreed that there are enough employees to complete work, down from 40 percent in the 2009 survey.

Only 34 percent said city leadership has employee morale and well-being in mind, down from 36 percent in the 2009 survey.

Chuck Bernardy, the city’s human resource manager, wrote in an email that the surveys are important because they give employees the opportunity to give feedback in areas where the city can improve.

Respondents were split over their ability to advance or get promoted. Bernardy said this could be due to the tough economy.

“With fewer positions, there are fewer opportunities for advancement and additional work for the employees who remain,” Bernardy said.

In the last couple of years, there have been budget cuts for the city and a 12 percent reduction in the workforce since 2008.

Most employees have a favorable view of employees’ ability to cooperate, with 76 percent agreeing.

More city employees feel that management is making use of their good ideas with 40 percent agreeing — up from 32 percent in the 2009 survey.

Bernardy said the results were relatively stable compared to the 2009 results.

The survey had a record number of respondents — 66 percent, or 2,560, of city employees responded. That’s up 5 percent from the 2009 survey, according to Bernardy.

Stephanie Kendall, the director and executive consultant of Kenexa, the firm that helped conduct the survey, said employees had a month to complete the survey online.

Kendall said the surveys are important for organizations and groups to see what concerns employees have.

“The goal is to provide each employee with a chance to share their thoughts into what is working well and what needs improvement,” Kendall said.

Kendall said Kenexa will help develop action plans for the city to improve some of the results and make the workplace the best possible for all employees.

Bernardy said some factors that have improved since the 2009 survey are that more people have favorable views about pay and benefits, up 10 percentage points; employee involvement, up 7 percentage points and community engagement, up 4 percentage points.

John Stiles, spokesman for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, said the results are important to Rybak, who has experienced five or six surveys in his career as mayor.

“As an enterprise, the employees are the most valuable resource, and obviously we want people to feel like there’s a place for them with the city of Minneapolis,” Stiles said. “We will support them if they work on improving themselves, and we will help them advance their careers.”

Stiles said Rybak examines the results and meets with the department heads every two to four weeks. He said if there are significant areas in which a department can improve, Rybak will discuss it with the department head.

Bernardy said the Minneapolis City Council approved an Alternative Work Arrangements Policy in 2010 in response to survey results. The policy provides many employees with the opportunity to have more flexible work arrangements, like different workday start and end times.

In 2009, 71 percent of employees who responded to the survey agreed that having flexible work arrangements was important to them, Bernardy said.

Bernardy said improvements have been noted in the results.

He said the 2011 survey showed that in departments where action has been taken and employees know it, engagement scores are significantly higher.

“Employees who say their department leadership took action on the results of the 2009 employee survey are 45 percent more engaged,” he wrote.

Kendall said it’s important for the city to analyze the results.

“With the changing nature of the economy and work environment, it’s important to know how employees are experiencing these changes and make employees’ experience better,” Kendall said.