Contributed by: City of Torrance Human Resources, Learning and Development, and Economic Development
The Great Resignation describes the higher-than-usual number of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs starting in late 2020 following COVID-19 shutdowns.
A Pew Research survey found the top reasons U.S. workers quit were low pay (63%), no opportunities for advancement (63%), feeling
disrespected at work (57%), issues related to childcare (48%), and not enough flexibility to choose hours (45%). However it turned out, workers weren’t actually quitting; they were instead swapping jobs within their organizations and outside to other companies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the census, in 2021 there was an almost one-to-one correlation between quitting and swapping.
Local government hasn’t been immune to this trend, including the City of Torrance. While in the past most city employees who voluntarily resigned left for another municipality, the city has recently noted that employees are leaving for the private sector in greater numbers.
To address these challenges, the city’s human resources, learning and development, and economic development teams are looking at
promising private industry practices.
Gallup has found that wellbeing extends beyond how people feel, and has direct impact on the business, resulting in higher job performance, lower absenteeism, and less likelihood of leaving the organization.
Torrance has a number of businesses in the city with cutting-edge employee engagement strategies and has adopted some of their strategies. It’s already seeing positive movement in employee engagement, which will hopefully
lead to greater retention.
It recently launched Healthy Torrance, an internal health and wellness program that promotes physical activity, social connection,
emotional health, and continuous learning. Employees can participate individually or on teams and can win prizes on their activity.
The city has also created a 12-month pilot work-from-home program, particularly important to employees seeking to reduce commute
time. Eligible employees may work from home two days a week. Productivity is measured to ensure that customer expectations are met.
The city also offers flexibility in work start and end times to accommodate employees who have family needs, such as dropping off
children at school.
Since 2008, Torrance has offered employees an internal learning academy that promotes development of skills such as customer service, management and team leading. The goal is to enhance employee performance and prepare them for future roles.
The city has identified recognition as critical to employee retention. Featuring employee profiles on social media and in public spaces allows the community to connect with the people behind the work.
More formal employee recognition programs link employee actions with specific city goals and objectives. City employees regularly
report that formal recognition allows them to connect to a greater purpose, which is vital to employee retention. While the Great Resignation (or reshuffle) is likely to continue, the city will continue to refine practices that allow Torrance to fully
leverage its greatest asset: city employees. •