How Do We Find the Right People

Here is a question I’m often asked related to a common problem in our industry.

“We have had turnover in our water/wastewater departments. One was due to retirement and the other was because our guy was offered more money with a neighboring city. We simply cannot find water/wastewater operators. We have had the job posted for a while now and we do not get many applicants, especially those with the required certifications. How is PeopleService able to find the right people?”

Whether you choose to partner with PeopleService, we still want to be a resource for you. It is challenging for us as well, but we have a couple of tricks up our sleeves:


Thirty-three years of serving partners across the Midwest has enabled us to build relationships among multiple resources. Our experienced Human Resource Department knows who to connect with, where to post the jobs and what to look for in applicants. In addition to our well-versed HR pros, PeopleService employs 170 operators. Our operators are walking recruiters when we have opportunities available. They are dispersed throughout the Midwest and have relationships with people in the industry. When a job gets posted referrals come in.


The biggest disadvantage that communities have in attracting and keeping operators is opportunity. The tenure of operators at PeopleService exceeds 10 years and there is a reason for that. We provide a career path, pay for and encourage growth. Higher license levels demand higher wages and that puts municipalities in a bind. For instance, if you have a grade II plant and the operator gets their grade III certification. That can call for higher wages even though the city does not need that level of experts. If the city cannot or will not pay, the operator leaves for an opportunity that will. It can be a revolving door. At PeopleService, we encourage career growth and pay accordingly to certification/license level. In the example cited, we would pay grade III wages even though the city contracted PeopleService for their grade II at no additional cost to the City.

Here’s more proof: We have a client that wanted a career path for their employee. They knew they could not help him grow beyond where he was. When they contracted with us, we hired that operator and are able to meet his career needs. And he is still with PeopleService after four years.

Another was looking at the potential cost and administrative savings of contract management. This larger city had a staff of six. The city was concerned for the well-being of their employees and wanted them involved in the decision-making process. After a few meetings, presenting our competitive wages, benefits and culture, all six contracted with PeopleService, and five are currently still with us with four having advanced into leadership roles. We have success stories all over the Midwest like this.

With increased regulations and a decrease in the water/wastewater workforce, PeopleService is the only a viable option for municipalities, and for those who want to grow in their careers or start on a new career path. If a city is entertaining contract management, we cannot guarantee we will hire your current staff (that’s between the applicant and hiring manager), but we will give them the opportunity to apply and learn more about PeopleService. If you are tired of dealing with turnover and frustrated about how to keep your people motivated, give me a call. I’m happy to answer your questions.

Chris McMillen
402 960-5700