Employee and volunteer retention have become challenges for municipalities across the nation, especially in the field of public safety where the service to the towns and cities are needed 24/7.
Raymond is no exception. However, the town has been working on innovative strategies to help address this long-standing problem.
“As a town, although we pay our on-call volunteers a modest amount for their service, over the years increased expectations, particularly in the area of training lead to more turnover and we increasingly had a difficult time retaining volunteer staff,” stated Don Willard, Raymond Town Manager.
Willard further explained that as the years have progressed, more volunteers began working full-time in other public safety organizations, making it more difficult to not only keep those highly qualified individuals but to continue to gain new ones.
Wanting to make a positive change for the town residents, employees as well as the volunteers, Willard worked with Human Resource Officer, Rita Theriault and Fire Chief, Bruce Tupper to find a solution.
To help them develop a successful and well-thought out plan, Willard, Theriault and Tupper reached out to Kari Meillat, Compensation Consultant and an expert in the field of human resources at KMA Consulting in Falmouth. “By focusing on total rewards and developing a comprehensive compensation strategy, companies are able to stand apart and attract and retain top talent,” Meillat states on the KMA Consulting website. “I collaborate with clients to create a custom-fit and equitable compensation program that will help them meet their goals and predict costs.”
With Meillat’s guidance, Raymond has developed the following strategies and incentives that not only positively affect volunteers but for the full-time and part-time public safety employees, as well. They include the following sign-on and retention bonuses:
For any person, that applies as a paid volunteer or part-time employee, they will receive a $500 sign-on bonus that will be dispersed in increments. These increments will be distributed in the following manner:
$100 upon hiring and successfully passing a back-ground check and physical agility test
$100 after successful completion of orientation
$300 after one year of employment/volunteer service, meeting expected standards and with good performance.
Current Raymond full-time and part-time Public Safety employees also get to take part in this incentive program. If an employee refers an individual for a position, and that person is hired and successfully completes the orientation process, that employee will be given a $100 bonus. If the new volunteer/employee remains employed after a year, the current staff will receive an additional $100.
In addition to the financial incentives, paid volunteers will gain access to certain employee’s benefits including: support for related education training, financial and retirement planning, annual bonus plan for above expected performances as well as stress management options.
“We wanted to tackle this problem head-on and we believe we have begun to do so by offering these initial incentives,” Willard said. “As we move forward, we will assess the effectiveness of these strategies and likely implement others from the KMA report and/or other sources to insure we are offering a comprehensive and progressive compensation and employee benefit plan.”
For more information, contact Willard or Theriault at 207-655-4742 or Tupper at 655-1187.