Survey: James City employees generally happy in their jobs, but cite concerns about wages

Staff writer

While James City employees express high job satisfaction, a third of respondents say they aren’t paid fairly for their work, according to results from an employee survey reviewed by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

The county conducted an engagement survey that gauged employees’ feelings on their workplace in late August. There were 561 employees who took the survey, which is a response rate of 57 percent. Teachers weren’t included. The county conducted the survey in-house, so there wasn’t the cost associated with hiring a third-party firm to do the work.

Three-quarters of respondents said overall, they were satisfied in their jobs, which exceeded the 65 percent goal for fiscal year 2019.

“Almost all our employees said their job gives them personal satisfaction,” said Stephanie Burton, the county human resources department’s training and development coordinator.

Respondents widely agreed that a job well done gave them a sense of personal satisfaction (95 percent) and that they have a clear idea of what the county’s mission and goals are (94 percent).

A third of respondents — 33 percent — disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement they are fairly compensated for their work.

This sentiment comes amid a $1.2 million effort by the county to increase the salaries of close to 600 employees over a two-year period. The Board of Supervisors approved the money to back those increases as well as a county-wide 2 percent pay increase as part of the budget last spring.

The pay bump was prompted by a study conducted by a third-party firm that found 585 positions, mostly lower-paying jobs, in James City earn less money than comparable positions in other localities and similar organizations.

It recommended salary adjustments to make county jobs more competitive, though those recommended adjustments only narrow the gap rather than totally catch up with other organizations studied.

The county’s human resources director, Patrick Teague, chalked up the survey response regarding wages to a combination of factors — not everyone got a raise and not every job position was included in the study.

“There were folks who would have liked to see more than they did,” Teague said in an interview prior to the meeting. “The pay study didn’t touch every position, so some people may feel left out.”

A similar number of respondents (26 percent) disagree with the idea that senior management does a good job communicating with the wider organization.

Looking forward, the survey data will be discussed and consulted further. Department directors are meeting with staff, and county-wide initiatives will be identified as will ways keep track of progress, Burton said.

“We want them to know we value their feedback,” she said.

Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, jojacobs@vagazette.com, @jajacobs_

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette
46°