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Archive for Saturday, November 2, 2002

City workers rate performance

Employees praise own work, but want better interaction with administrators

November 2, 2002

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City employees think they're doing a good job serving the public. Now it's the public's turn to weigh in.

Officials on Friday revealed the preliminary results of a job satisfaction survey of city workers, done this summer as part of a "user-friendliness" mandate by the Lawrence City Commission.

The employees said they'd like better communication with commissioners and top administrators but gave themselves high marks for their own interactions with the public.

"I'm not surprised," City Manager Mike Wildgen said. "We've got some talented employees and they're dedicated to public service."

The results were announced just days after the city began mailing out 10,000 "image surveys" with water bills to determine what Lawrence residents think about city services. Officials with Lawrence-based GRI Research, which is conducting both surveys, said they should have those responses compiled by mid-December, with a report due early next year.

GRI President Dave Kingsley said the survey of city employees found that they felt good about their immediate supervisors and thought their workload expectations were fair.

But, he said in the report, "the lowest level of satisfaction expressed by employees pertains to communications between themselves and department management, city management and elected city officials." Workers also gave a low rating to the fairness of their promotion opportunities.

City Commissioner David Dunfield said the low rating for employee-commission communication was to be expected.

"It's interesting but not surprising," he said. "Other than the city manager's office and planning staff, not many employees have a chance to interact with the city commission."

Wildgen said he wanted to improve the rating for employees' contacts with his office.

Dunfield said "it's too soon to tell" what action the commission might take based on the survey results.

The two surveys, which together cost the city $36,000, stem from the commission's annual evaluation in January of Wildgen's job performance. Commissioners said at the time they wanted the surveys to help them gauge perceptions of City Hall's user-friendliness.

Kingsley said he thought the city should repeat the surveys every two years to track performance. Dunfield agreed.

"I think that's where the real value will be, in comparing," Dunfield said. "If we do take action, we'll want to see the outcomes of the process."

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