Opinion: Laguna Beach City Corner

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A Message From The City Manager

By Shohreh Dupuis

Dear Laguna Beach Community,

This is the first installment of what I hope becomes a regular conversation between the City of Laguna Beach Mayor, City Manager or City Department Heads and our Laguna Beach Community. Our goal is to increase transparency and provide information to our residents, cover topics of interest, clear up inaccurate information and misunderstandings, and provide you with an honest perspective from City Hall.

This first perspective is an internal one, as I have found employee retention among my first priorities and challenges as your new City Manager. For the better part of the last 16 months, the pandemic has tested all of us emotionally and physically and its toll is starting to show on the nation’s workforce.  recent October study done by the Society for Human Resource Management showed that nearly half of organizations surveyed reported much higher turnover over the past six months, with open positions remaining vacant longer. We have felt the effects of this 2021 “Turnover Tsunami” here in Laguna Beach, and we are not alone. City governments and employers nationwide—especially in California—are trying new strategies to retain qualified employees.Because our City staff delivers important services to the community, having an engaged, motivated, and committed workforce is a priority and critical to what we do.

That’s why in September, we went to work to listen and learn from our employees by conducting a City Employee Engagement and Satisfaction Survey. This survey gave employees an opportunity to provide feedback related to inclusion, diversity, respect, pay and benefits, and overall experience working for the City of Laguna Beach. A tailored survey designed for law enforcement personnel was also conducted to focus on some of the unique challenges facing police departments over the last two years.

The feedback we received shows positive and promising results: that 86% of employees are highly engaged in their work and nearly 80% of employees are satisfied to work for the City of Laguna Beach. Some opportunities raised through the survey include more employee development and training, workload and resource availability, and better use of technology. I invite you to read more about the survey results, which are posted in detail on our City website.

Over the next few months, we will use the results of the survey to dive deeper and learn from our employees. We will hire a facilitator to assist with the development of an action plan based on the survey results in working closely with a task force of employees from all departments (and a sub-task force of Police Department employees) that will identify key priorities and develop a roadmap to success. The action plan will be presented to the City Council in conjunction with the City Council prioritization/strategic planning process on Feb. 12, 2022.

We have an opportunity to combat the “Great Resignation” by modernizing our business practices, providing telecommuting options and work flexibility, increasing our technology and staff development opportunities, and promoting a culture of total wellness. Because when our team thrives, we can make our services to each of you even better.

In Community Spirit and Passion for Providing Outstanding Service to You.

Shohreh assumed the role of City Manager in June. She joined Laguna Beach as an assistant city manager in 2016 and lives in South Laguna.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Shohreh,
    This is a great idea. Thank you for your candor, transparency, and proactivity regarding employee retention. It’s quite refreshing.

  2. Thanks City Council for listening to residents and assigning this as a city manager priority.

    Outside surveying is well worth the cost to taxpayers and long overdue based upon the LB employee separation turnover rate report for the last decade. This isn’t a new or pandemic issue – we’ve lost a significant number of talented management level staff to other cities in the last 5-6 years. It contributes to the problems residents are expressing about getting services and their needs met at city hall. The recent employee fee recovery rate study is reflective of such internal changes.

    The employee satisfaction survey is a great start but the management culture is critical to employee retention. The next employee separation update report is scheduled for January 2022. Results will be posted on lagunabeachchat.com.

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