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County seeing higher turnover in workforce

May 02, 1997

By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writer

More Washington County employees are leaving for better-paying jobs in private industry and in other counties than in the past, according to Personnel Director Alan Davis.

The employee turnover rate, not including retirements, rose to 7.1 percent from July 1995 to June 1996, up from an average of 3.43 percent in the four years from July 1991 through June 1995, Davis said Friday. Including retirements, the rate has jumped from 4.18 percent to 9.7 percent in the same time periods.

Davis said turnover for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, was on a course to be about the same as the previous year.

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"We've lost some real good folks recently to other employers," he said.

Davis said in addition to losing more people, the county isn't attracting as many highly qualified applicants for jobs as it has in years past. Davis said instead of giving commissioners a choice of three applicants to choose from, sometimes only one or two will fill the bill.

Employee compensation consultant Charles F. Hendricks has recommended a 4 percent pay raise for county employees July 1 to keep their salaries competitive with large private employers and neighboring county governments.

Hendricks said that a turnover rate between 5 and 10 percent was typical for government employees.

Washington County Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers asked for a breakdown of employee turnover rates at a meeting Tuesday. Other commissioners have questioned the need for a 4 percent increase, which would cost about $525,000 a year, six months after employees received a $500 bonus, a $500 increase in salary and a 2 percent pay raise.

"Certainly turnover is a concern, particularly in the area of public safety," Davis said.

Davis said that pay raises instituted for water and sewer operators last year had lowered the number who were jumping to higher paying jobs elsewhere.

One area that the county has seen more turnover and less qualified applicants is in administrative support positions, Davis said. Hendricks' compensation study addressed that by reclassifying those workers from clerical positions to office assistants and adjusting their pay ranges upward, Davis said. The commissioners have accepted the study in principle but haven't agreed to the details.

The county has about 600 employees. Worker benefits include two to four weeks of vacation, 10 holidays and five personal days.

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