April 2022

Wages create mobility – in the wrong direction.

Here’s a auestion from a City Administrator in Kansas:

QuestionOur operator of 25 years retired last year and we were lucky to have a replacement in place. Unfortunately, the replacement did not last long because another city offered him more money and he left. Now, the operator we’ve had on staff for the last five months has just submitted his resignation due to higher wages from a larger city. As we look for a solution, what can PeopleService do for us and how do you deal with this?

AnswerThank you for your questions and for sharing an increasingly common challenge. In past articles I stated that water and wastewater operators are specialists. Too often they get thrown into the public works or maintenance “bucket” of a city, but what you just shared is evidence that they are much more than that. The self-serving side of me says, “hire PeopleService because we deal with all of that and remove that headache for you!” Now that I just did the “sales” thing to keep my boss off my back, I’ll get to your question. PeopleService has been around for almost 35 years and we have a lot of connections with operators throughout the Midwest. We know the stories: a Grade III Operator getting an offer from a larger community that is above Grade IV wages and a maintenance tech with no certification gets an offer that matches a Grade III operators wages. What does the city do with those licensed operators that look at this insanity? Do they bump their wages up a lot or do they take the chance that they will stay? It’s insane out there. There is no other way to put it. At PeopleService we offer a career path for water/wastewater operators. They get paid strong wages based on their certification level and experience and they can continue to move up with no cap. We cannot control those crazy anomalies of a large city paying above industry standard wages, but we can – and do – provide a solid foundation of growth opportunities for our employees. PeopleService can do this for your city. Hire us and we provide the personnel necessary to keep you compliant, maintain your large infrastructure investment and be your partner in capital improvement planning. It’s one less headache for the city because our staff will be a part of your community. As such, they will take “ownership” just as a city employee would. I talk about the perception a city has of losing control if your water/wastewater operations are outsourced. I have stated that the city gains more control. Case in point, what control do you have now concerning your water and wastewater operations? Answer: none. You are at the mercy of personnel, turnover, no applicants, poor performance and more. The bench strength at PeopleService is like a sports team. One player goes down, gets traded or retires, the next player is up! Team or city… in this case, does not miss a beat. Let’s talk more today.