This article appears in the November 2019 issue of the Salem Business Journal.
By Dick Hughes, special to Salem Business Journal
If you want to be known as one of the best employers in the area – recruiting and retaining the best employees – you need to understand where you're starting from.
This is one reason why Marion County initiated an independent, outside assessment of the county's workplace culture this year.
Now complete, the multi-part analysis by Clarity Scientific, LLC found that most employees like working for the county, they work hard, they believe in the county's mission, and they feel supported by their colleagues. Yet employees feel there is room for improvement, especially in regard to internal communications and supervisory skills.
The consultant conducted 18 focus groups, reaching approximately 3% of the workforce. In addition, almost 60% of employees responded to a questionnaire covering Job Attitudes and Experiences, Workplace Support, and Health and Well-being.
Lisa Trauernicht, a senior policy analyst for the Board of Commissioners Office, worked with Clarity Scientific on the project. She said the workplace culture assessment goes hand-in-hand with the county's regular management and department reviews, such as the recent customer service study.
"It is a really good additional piece of the puzzle to help us move forward," she said. "We want to foster a great culture where we can all be fulfilled – employees can all be proud to say they work for Marion County, and prospective employees want to come and work for Marion County – all while meeting our community's needs."
Going forward, communication and training are likely to be key, Trauernicht said.
As a first step, all employees received both a copy of the consultant's full report and a summary of the key findings. Employees then were invited to help plan the next steps, forming the new Marion County Culture Committee that began meeting at the end of October.
When you're immersed in the day-to-day workplace, it's hard to step back and take an objective look at what employees appreciate and what frustrates them and interferes with their job performance. That is why Beaverton-based Clarity Scientific was brought in.
"We appreciate the in-depth report and analysis by Dr. MacKenna Perry from Clarity Scientific. The findings are encouraging, and we've already begun to discuss next steps and how to use the results to support our employees," said Chief Administrative Officer Jan Fritz.
Clarity Scientific stressed confidentiality and privacy. The data collection and reporting were designed so individual participants could not be identified or linked to a response.
The consultant's final report noted that the participation rate was quite high, "indicating high engagement with the topic of organizational culture and a sense of trust in the culture assessment process."
Key findings include:
"Most employees are satisfied with their jobs and think Marion County is a 'great place to work.'"
"Top qualities employees enjoy about Marion County culture include commitment to serving the community, working together with others, and enjoyment of the work itself."
"Employees work hard to deliver excellence and share values around customer service, professionalism, integrity, and stewardship."
"Employees reported mixed experiences with leaders, managers, and supervisors."
"Employee perceptions of organization and leader support varied, but most employees reported positive experiences."
"Results of the culture assessment represent most Marion County employees, but experiences vary across departments, teams, job types, job levels, individuals, and other factors."
For more information, contact the Marion County Board of Commissioners Office at (503) 588-5212 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.