Worker satisfaction survey offered to city employees

Wednesday, May 3, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:06 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008


Larry Winn thinks city administrators are about to learn a thing or two about employee attitudes. Bruce Martin has some concerns about ethics he’d like to share.

Both are among the 1,168 city employees — including firefighters, administrators and utility workers — who will have a chance to voice their thoughts about working conditions in a first-ever survey of employee satisfaction.

The questionnaire, which was distributed to employees on Friday, is part of a larger effort by City Manager Bill Watkins to improve communication in city government.

Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said he hopes for a high rate of response.

“We have done a lot of things to make it very easy for our employees to reply,” he said.

Winn, a mechanic with the Public Works Department, said the survey is a good idea.

“I think we have got a gap between the management of the city of Columbia and the employees’ needs,” Winn said. “I think this will be a good way (for them) to find out that the employees are not as content as they think.”

Watkins said the survey is anonymous: no city employee would be able to examine individual responses. Rather, the questionnaires will be analyzed in groups.

Evergreen Solutions is conducting the survey, and Watkins said the firm “does this in a number of cities and can benchmark the results against other cities.”

Martin, a construction specialist with the Parks and Recreation Department, said he’s concerned that some of his fellow workers don’t display the ethical standards they should.

“It will show how the employees feel and maybe get some vibrations back to the city,” Martin said.

City officials will study the results as part of the 2007 budget process, and the City Council will examine them at its June retreat. The results will also be used for long-term planning.

While all concerns might not be addressed immediately, “it is important that we establish a baseline against which progress can be measured,” Watkins said.

A follow-up survey will be done in two years, he said.

Margrace Buckler, Columbia’s director of human resources, is looking forward to seeing the results.

“We have never done this before to this degree,” she said. “We have a new city manager, and he is interested in finding out where we are.”

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