City gets mixed reviews in employee survey |

City gets mixed reviews in employee survey

Adam Jensen

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The city of South Lake Tahoe has received mixed reviews as an employer, according to a survey undertaken by City Manager Tony O’Rourke.

The 71-question survey was given to city employees in December; the results were released this week.

They were asked to rate a variety of statements regarding the city from 1 to 5, with 1 being the most positive. Ninety-two percent of eligible city employees participated in the survey.

“The overall rating for the city’s organizational assessment is 2.79, or between ‘somewhat positive’ and ‘neutral,'” O’Rourke said in a memo to the City Council regarding the employee survey. “Overall, employees had a slightly positive view of their job and organization.”

Employees rated the city positively for having workers who feel a high degree of responsibility in their jobs, having skilled and hard-working employees and having a drug- and alcohol-free environment.

Adequate staffing, considering the effect of changes on employees’ work, taking employee suggestions seriously, promoting teamwork, setting attainable goals and caring about employees’ welfare all received low marks.

An anonymous comment section included in the assessment contains numerous positive comments about the city as an employer, but also includes more than a few complaints.

Many of the comments are critical of the city’s fiscal management, as well as the furloughs employees have been required to take.

Several comments show tension remains over modifications to labor contracts that some employees feel favored the fire department.

“Gossip and backbiting,” is a concern from one of the commenters, while a lack of respect between some departments is noted by another.

Several commenters consider the city too top-heavy with management positions. One said the survey was an attempt by management “trying to appear they care,” a contention O’Rourke disputes.

The assessment is “the first comprehensive city employee survey conducted in the 45 years of the city organization,” O’Rourke said.

“In the past, employee suggestions have not often been acted upon,” O’Rourke said. “This process will be different, and will model the way for management to act on employee concerns and suggestions for organizational improvement.”

City staff discussed the results of the survey this week and developed work plans to address the most critical issues. O’Rourke expects to conduct a follow-up survey next December to measure progress.

“The Organizational Assessment report provides the city a snapshot of the city’s employees,” O’Rourke said. “The perspective from employees highlights both organizational strengths and opportunities for improvement. The challenges faced by the city of South Lake Tahoe are no different than those faced by most public organizations in these difficult economic times.”

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