Employee retention, Public Safety lead City of Aiken budget talks | News

At least 40 employees stopped working for the City of Aiken in the past eight months, with about half of those departures coming from Aiken Public Safety, City officials said during a budget work session Tuesday.

The figures drove a discussion about worker turnover, which officials said costs the City hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Aiken City Councilman Dick Dewar stated during the work session that more than 40 people left the City during the current budget cycle through February. That translates to an average of five departures a month.

“I think our staff turnover is way higher than it needs to be,” Dewar said. “The sense I’m getting is people are leaving as fast as they can. With the economy improving, people are looking elsewhere.”

Turnover is most noticeable in the Public Safety budget.

Nola Grant, the City’s human resources director, said 21 Public Safety employees left during the current budget cycle, with only two of those departures consisting of retirements.

“Statistically, if you lose a police officer within two years, you’re losing $100,000,” Grant said. “When you spend $300,000 or $400,000 in turnover costs, that’s money that can be spent somewhere else.”

Grant further said the City’s overall turnover rate is in the 18-19 percent range, while nationwide the average is 13 percent.

She said some employees leave for higher-paying jobs, noting that Bridgestone is preparing to post new vacancies, but she noted some workers also think upward mobility is not possible.

“We can’t afford to have 18-19 percent turnover,” Grant said. “If you pay them $10 to $11 an hour, when you take out taxes and health care increases, they can’t survive.

“If you don’t take care of your workers, you’re going to have turnover. Turnover hurts your bottom line,” Grant continued.

That’s one reason why the proposed budget for 2017-2018 calls for…

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