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Park City Seeks To Remedy Employee Recruitment, Retention Challenges

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The Park City Council will consider a request to authorize the city manager to enter into a $130,000 contract for employee compensation evaluation services. The city is looking into the services because of employee recruitment and retention challenges.

With Utah’s unemployment rate at 2.5%, so low that if someone wants a job, there’s one available for them, interim Park City Manager Matt Dias says it’s harder to bring on and keep qualified staff.

“As the economy heats up, as the jurisdictions around Park City grow in size and scope and complexity, so too do the competitive job opportunities," Dias said. "And with the affordability issues that we’re having in Park City, it's no longer just reasonable to think that people are going to be willing to drive here and commute into town to be able to work with us.”

Dias says Park City Municipal has struggled with numerous positions, from frontline staff to management. The city has had to cancel and prolong recruitment processes, drop minimum qualifications from job descriptions and they’ve had ongoing vacancies. That’s why, Dias says, the city’s human resources department is recommending the city contract with consulting firm Mercer. Dias says the city assesses compensation every two years, but the city’s human resources department worries more money might not be the only solution to the problem, and they want some outside eyes to take a look.

“Public compensation is a sensitive issue, particularly in the public sector where you're talking about wages," Dias said. "So we thought what better way to provide council with an alternative, to have a third party come in assess our pay plan and assess our structure, and are there other things we could be utilizing to recruit and retain employees that we’re not currently.”

The staff report details several positions that were particularly difficult to fill, including the city engineer position, which was vacant for more than a year and required two separate recruitments. With some high-profile positions the city will likely look to fill—including the community development director and assistant city manager—Dias says the city needs good candidates.

“The moral of the story is you're only as good as the people that you surround yourself with, and the bulk of our costs in this city is actually labor-related," Dias said. "If we're going to be successful and move into an implementation period, we're absolutely going to need a trained, competent, excellent workforce. We have one now, but when we have people leave, we're having a very, very difficult time replacing individuals.”

Park City Municipal currently has 18 job openings listed on its website, most of which are part-time or seasonal. The majority were posted more than 30 days ago.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.