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City of Columbia workers feel undervalued, according to survey

Columbia city workers don’t feel valued in their jobs, according to survey results.

The City of Columbia released the results of an employee engagement survey Friday. The survey was administered to employees between Nov. 28 and Dec. 21. Sixty-two percent of employees responded to the survey.

Those who responded reported feeling undervalued. The cultural question “I feel valued for the work I do” was scored as the highest importance but had the lowest score among six questions about organizational culture. The city hired the firm CPS HR Consulting to conduct the survey.

“Leadership and Management Change – Department Leaders” and “Training and Development” had the highest relative importance to employees but the lowest scores, the city said in a news release.

Dale Roberts, executive director of the Columbia Police Officers’ Association, said he believes part of the reason scores are so low in this category is because of the transitions of two high-ranking city positions when the survey was sent out.

Roberts said the results of the survey, especially from police officers, would be much better if the answers were recorded today.

“Unfortunately, November, December was just a bad time to do that survey considering what was going on in city hall,” Roberts said. “And I’m absolutely convinced if the survey were done today the response from police officers would be significantly better.”

Roberts said officers in the department today are much happier under the new chief. He said officers feel like they have more freedom to do “what needs to be done.”

“Chief Jones immediately announced policy changes that would delegate more authority to the officer on the street. Let her do her job, not have to look over her shoulder for supervisory approval any time something needed to be done,” he said.

Fifty-six percent of the employees who responded to the survey said they intend on staying in their position, 24 percent intend to leave and 20 percent said they preferred not to say.

Roberts said the new city manager will have to raise wages for employees in order to get more and retain new hires.

The CPOA has plans to conduct an internal survey within the next few months to see how officers respond now.

Interim City Manager John Glascock responded to the results of the survey.

“Over the next 12-18 months, I expect leadership to use the information and tools in the report to improve our teams’ engagement levels,” Glascock said in the news release. “We have and will lean on our Operational Excellence Team, CPS HR Consulting, and other resources to improve.”

The consultant recommended that the city share the results and give periodic reports on progress, closely review results for some demographic groups and review department-specific results, according to the release.

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