Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Springs Utilities employee survey: Fewer feel engaged than three years ago.

Posted By on Tue, Aug 6, 2019 at 3:32 PM

click to enlarge This shows the breakdown of which category was nated by employees in response to the question: What makes you want to continue working at Colorado Springs Utilities? - COURTESY ARTHUR J. GALLAGHER & CO.
  • Courtesy Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
  • This shows the breakdown of which category was nated by employees in response to the question: What makes you want to continue working at Colorado Springs Utilities?

Fewer Colorado Springs Utilities workers feel engaged in their jobs today than they did three years ago, a new survey shows. But more employees, compared to a previous poll, said they were being treated fairly by supervisors at the city-owned enterprise.

The survey was conducted by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., a global firm based in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.

Unlike the city of Colorado Springs, Springs Utilities released the survey to employees, Utilities Board members and the Independent, which submitted a records request for the report.

Conducted from June 3-21, the survey drew responses from 1,316 (73 percent) employees. The highest response rate came from Administration (100 percent) and the lowest, from Energy Services (59 percent).

The survey used a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree), with variations in between.

Overall employee engagement rated at 4.75, or .17 lower than the 2016 survey and .29 lower than the national norm. Administration workers felt the most engaged, 5.61, and regulatory and compliance employees (those dealing with government rules and regulations) felt the least, 4.31. In fact, 19 percent of those working in regulatory and compliance said they felt "strongly disengaged."

Workers who'd been there the least amount of time felt more engaged than those who've served for 11 years or more.

Utilities lost ground sightly from the 2016 employee survey in these areas:
• Recommend employment at this organization
• Feels part of our mission
• Effort affects the organization's success

The survey also showed decreases since 2016 in employees trusting those they work with, the effectiveness of performance evaluations, and opportunities to use their talents at Utilities.

It gained ground in employees feeling confident officers manage the political environment in the interest of stakeholders, trust in leaders adhering to CSU's values and being treated fairly by supervisors.

Utilities Board Chair Jill Gaebler says she's "very pleased" with the results of the survey overall.

"We had more employees take the survey," she noted, than the previous survey in 2016. "I'm especially interested in how employees felt the survey would be used to make improvements. They're expecting changes in leadership will lead to improvements."

Employees expressed concerns regarding performance reviews, using their talents and measuring success, which Gaebler finds encouraging.

"People want to work for a winning organization," she says, adding she hopes the Utilities Board can find a way to work with the CEO to provide an optimistic and hopeful outlook for employees.

Gaebler also said CEO Aram Benyamin "has a mandate" to make changes in response to the survey.

In October 2018, Benyamin replaced former CEO Jerry Forte, who retired in mid-2018.

The survey's "not to exceed" cost was $40,000.

Here's the survey:

In mid-February, the Indy submitted a records request to the city of Colorado Springs for employee surveys, but the request was rejected. In denying access, the city cited provisions of the Colorado Open Records Act that protect "confidential, commercial and financial data" and "work product of an elected official."

The city paid OrgVitality of Pleasantville, N.Y., $17,225 for the survey.

First Amendment attorney Steve Zansberg, Denver, said after the city survey was denied that the first exemption cited can't be applied "because the information in the survey and results were not 'obtained from' a private person," as cited in CORA. The second exemption is more nebulous, he said, noting he'd have to know to whom the results were distributed to determine if it's a lawful citation for withholding the document.

Asked about that at the time in late February, city spokesperson Jamie Fabos wrote, "Certain managers employed by the City were granted access to some of the metrics pertaining to their departments as a whole, in order [to] produce additional information for the elected official which is also protected from disclosure by both statutory sections cited above."

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