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Our Opinion: Seeking solutions to state workforce problems

Our Opinion: Seeking solutions to state workforce problems

February 13th, 2018 by News Tribune in Opinion

We're pleased to see Gov. Eric Greitens and other state officials are looking to implement solutions after a survey of the state's workforce showed widespread dissatisfaction with management problems that have festered for years.

As more results are being released from the survey that was completed last fall, more problems are coming to light. Last week, we reported the thrust of those problems involve management deficiencies, according to employees.

Perhaps the biggest complaint: Good employees aren't being rewarded and bad employees aren't being held accountable.

State employees "want to have clear accountability and rewards and recognitions for those who have superior performance," said Drew Erdmann, the state's chief operating officer. "We don't want to have a situation where folks are saying, 'I bust my you-know-what and the person next to me (doesn't), but we're treated the same.' That is corrosive."

The survey revealed other related problems with:

Communicating clear, strategic direction to employees

Having clear milestones and goals

Having review processes that recognize people for superior performance, but also identify those who need coaching and additional help.

Overall, 75 percent of the 47,427 state employees surveyed provided answers.

How does Missouri compare to similar studies done by McKinsey & Company, which Missouri contracted with for the survey? Not well. The company said Missouri employees satisfaction ratings were in the bottom 25 percent of all survey responses.

The good news is the state is taking action.

It has ditched Perform, the previous system used to evaluate employees, and has replaced it with "Engage."

Erdmann said Perform, which was used by most of the state departments, was too cumbersome and led to widespread dissatisfaction.

Engage, on the other hand, is intended to "have regular, structured, professional development conversations between a team leader and team members," he said. It also provides more regular evaluation of supervisors.

He's hinted more change is on the horizon. We are eager to see what they have in store. Improvements in rewarding good work and hold employees accountable for bad work could go a long way to increasing poor morale among the state workforce.