To recruit and keep top-level employees, Riverside County should pay more toward health insurance and simplify its job application process, according to a new report aimed at addressing serious problems in luring and retaining top talent to serve one of California’s fastest-growing counties.
“To be competitive the county must have strong base pay and benefits but must also have a focus on having the best working environment through improving culture, training, innovation, and employee engagement,” read the report, which is on the Board of Supervisors’ Tuesday, Aug. 30, agenda.
“ … There is a cost to these endeavors, but research and analysis shows that the greater investment must be compared to the costs associated with high turnover and staffing churn.”
County government has had recent challenges in recruiting and retaining workers that officials believe reflect a national trend that started during the coronavirus pandemic of employees quitting or not accepting jobs they see as unfulfilling or low paying.
With more than 20,000 people on its payroll, county government is Riverside County’s largest employer. County government provides public services including public safety, health care, parks and recreation, road maintenance, building and restaurant inspections and libraries.
In a memo to colleagues in May, county supervisors Kevin Jeffries and V. Manuel Perez wrote that the job vacancy rate across county government is 20% while the turnover rate is 12%. The Department of Public Social Services vacancy rate is 30% while the rate is 40% in veterans services, county officials said.
The social services vacancy rate is especially problematic, because high caseloads and a lack of social workers have been cited in outside reviews of child protective services after high-profile incidents, including shortfalls in the care of the 13 Turpin siblings after a lifetime of torture and neglect by their parents.
Written by the county executive office, the report on Tuesday’s agenda found that, while county government salaries are “competitive overall,” the county lags behind the private sector in its contributions to employee health insurance and should look at boosting those contributions.
The county executive officer also should have the power to increase the top pay scales of certain jobs by 10% to 15%, the report states.
Jeffries’ and Perez’s report faulted the county’s job application website for being hard to use and criticized automated screening processes that they said excluded qualified applicants.
To deal with those issues, the report on Tuesday’s agenda calls for a more interactive and user-friendly process with more communication between the county and job candidates. Automated screening is going away for most jobs in favor of “a more connected experience for applicants with the hiring departments and Human Resources,” Tuesday’s report states.
The county should prioritize rapid hiring events to speed up hiring and let applicants apply for several jobs at once, the report added.
Besides receiving the report, supervisors will be asked to direct the executive office to work with human resources and county departments to create recruitment and retention plans and return in 90 days with changes to benefits and pay that require amendments to union contracts.