Naperville city officials like to think that everybody wants to live and work in Naperville. That’s what they tell us. Naperville is #1 in every category, and if not #1, then somewhere in the Top-100. If there is a staff opening in the Municipal Center, all they need to do is post an opening, and bingo the position will be filled before the day ends. Apparently that may not be so true anymore, if it ever was.
City officials announced that effective immediately, city employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave, and a revised time-off policy allows city staff to accrue sick days annually up to a maximum of 12 weeks for employees hired after 2011. Officials said offering these upscale benefits will “keep city benefits competitive”. The word ‘competitive’ is an understatement, since no other suburban municipality has paid parental leave. The idea is to increase retention and use the inflated benefit as a recruiting tool.
As is usually the case with government, their first solution to a concern or problem is to throw money at it, and walk away thinking it’s solved. It’s always easy to throw money at something, when the money doesn’t belong to the one throwing the money. The kicker is that there is always someone down the block offering a dollar-an-hour more, and now you have to throw more money at it to keep it ‘competitive’.
I’m happy that city staff will get a financial benefit, however it takes more than money to maintain or increase retention. Surveys have proven that employees want to feel valued and appreciated. This is where city officials including department heads are falling short. It doesn’t take much for a city official or supervisor to express appreciation to an employee for a job well done, or being an important part of the team. This is a top-down opportunity for the mayor, the city council, city manager, and department heads, to acknowledge jobs well done by city staff and express genuine appreciation for their efforts and results. It takes so little time to help employees feel valued.