From Sacramento, CA — 01/27/2009
I stumbled upon a somewhat derogatory survey about the agency I work for, that I most wholeheartedly disagree with. Hopefully if that person was that unhappy they have moved on. Sometimes that’s what’s in the best interest of the organization and the individual. I came to work at this agency after spending several years working for a fortune 100 company. As my first job with a public agency, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect. It wasn’t until after I changed jobs that I realized how due I was for a change.
In response to the previous poster:
Too much red tape – Organizations, public or private, need structure to succeed. Some people, who like to do what they want when they want, refer to structure as “red tape”. It’s necessary that public agencies be accountable to the taxpayers, whose dollars support the agency. Therefore there has to be structure and control. Some agencies (or employees of certain agencies) have found ways to bypass this and it’s only gotten them into trouble, which unfortunately results in more red tape than would otherwise be necessary.
Meaningless meetings – I’ve participated in meetings where certain invitees are not engaged because they came in with a closed mind, feel like they are too busy to be there, or are only concerned about forwarding their own agenda. For them, meetings are meaningless. I admit that many people are not skilled at conducting effective meetings and that can be wasteful. That presents an opportunity for those sitting in the back grumbling about what a time-waster the meeting is to step up and try to make a positive difference.
Decision making – While I don’t agree with all decisions that are made, I think management makes good decisions overall. I feel like I can be heard if I don’t agree with something. If I have a suggestion I will be listened to and if my idea is good and makes sense for the organization it will be implemented. This organization is open to finding new and better ways of doing things, and to everyone contributing to the mission.
Pay - Pay is compared to and competitive with other agencies / similar job functions in the region.
Respect – I am treated with respect and treat others with respect, and I see others doing the same. Sure people disagree and butt heads at times, but a certain degree of conflict is necessary and productive in an organization…and I’m not seeing conflict being handled in a disrespectful manner.
Job security – New employees complete a one year probationary period, not uncommon in public agencies. Beyond that there is a clearly defined corrective action policy for someone not performing to expectations, with abundant opportunity to make corrections. Certain behaviors, such as workplace violence may result in immediate termination; otherwise job security is pretty solid as long as the person is doing their job.
Work life balance – Contrary to my private sector work, where it was sort of an un-written rule that the job came first, at the Air District I’m expected to work my regular schedule, and am never pressured to work beyond that. Management is very understanding when it comes to family and family issues. The people I work with, including my manager care about my family and my personal well-being.
Career Potential / Growth – There is some limitation posed because of the size of the organization, however in the few years I’ve been here there have been many well deserved promotions of people with positive attitude who have worked hard to make a positive difference. Opportunities can also be limited where average tenure is high (discussed further below).
Location – good location downtown, near transit, ample parking and places to grab lunch.
Co-worker competence – There are many talented, committed and hardworking people at the district. The district does a pretty good job of hiring the right people and provides appropriate training. With the addition of some new positions there have been new hires, who may not have as the same level of experience as some of the tenured staff. Learning a new job is a process and takes time. Let them get through the learning curve before calling them incompetent.
Work environment – The workplace is kept clean and relatively tidy (we do have workspace and storage space challenges). Staff is mostly upbeat and positive. Occasionally you run into someone who seems to be having a “bad day”, which most of us have from time to time no matter where we work. Upgrades to the somewhat antiquated HVAC system are underway to help ensure workplace comfort. Training is provided annually covering workplace diversity, sexual harassment, workplace violence and ethics as a reminder to employees the role they play in ensuring a pleasant workplace for all. Staff is provided with the necessary tools to succeed in their jobs.
Bottom Line – If this was such a terrible place to work, we would have out of control turnover and poor tenure. Our average tenure is approaching 7 years, which is outstanding considering that only goes back to the date the district separated from Sac county just over 12 years ago. Over 25% of the staff has been here more than 12 years, and many of those had several years of service prior to separation from the county not accounted for above. It’s even more impressive when you consider the growth the district has experienced in the last 4-5 years resulting in several new positions (growth opportunities!!), which is a natural drag on tenure. Another drag on tenure has resulted from several long term employees retiring in the past few years. We have turnover, but not an inordinate amount, certainly not indicative of a terrible place to work. People generally stick around here for a while. I like it here, and I think most of the people who work here do to. It’s not perfect, but no place is. And no place, no matter how great a place it is to work is a perfect fit for everyone.