Cover Letter

July 25, 2018

Honorable Eric Garcetti, Mayor
Honorable Michael Feuer, City Attorney
Honorable Members of the Los Angeles City Council
Re: Modernizing City Recruitment and Hiring

The ability of our City to serve our residents, businesses and visitors depends first and foremost on attracting and retaining the very best people to work for our City departments. To do so, it is vital that we modernize the City of L.A.’s outdated recruitment and hiring process – along with updating our Civil Service system.

It takes an average of 7.5 months – and often longer – to hire employees in our City. Too great a number of would-be candidates for public service are lost to us; too many of our job classifications are outdated; too much of the process is bureaucratic; and too few of our hires and employees are women.

In my report, “A Hire Calling: Modernizing City Recruitment and Hiring,” we identify the challenges of our Personnel Department and of all City departments – and we propose solutions to boost the hiring, retention and promotion of the best candidates. Taxpayers and stakeholders deserve nothing but the best of the best from those entrusted to serve. We are fortunate to have so very many outstanding employees in our City government – but we must adapt to new ways of recruiting, hiring and managing our human resources.

Well-intentioned but complex and limiting Civil Service rules can also serve to limit the recruitment pool and can stymie opportunities for advancement once hired. Employees often face rigid schedules and narrow career paths. As such, it is vital that we upgrade and modernize our Civil Service system and explore potential changes to the the City Charter to exercise more flexibility.

While our City’s Personnel Department and its General Manager have made good strides improving recruitment, retention and flexibility, we still have a long way to go to ensure opportunity for those interested in serving our City.

My report highlights the following challenges:

  • The City’s hiring process is overly restrictive and takes too long. The multi-step Civil Service process takes an average of 98 days to open an exam to solicit applications, and another 129 days to establish a certified list of ranked applicants.The collective 7.5 month process falls short of a Mayoral goal and is exponentially longer than other Southern California cities.
  • The civilian workforce does not represent the gender breakdown of Los Angeles. Women make up just 35% of the City’s civilian workforce.
  • Outdated job titles such as such as “Principal Clerk” and minimum job qualifications are too narrowly defined while rigid schedules impede our ability to attract the best possible candidates.
  • The City’s inability to recruit and hire at mid-level management or career levels within the Civil Service system limits the City’s ability to select candidates from outside the City, or experienced exempt employees with years of institutional knowledge and experience.

I’ve outlined solutions to help:

  • Modernize practices to attract a new generation of employees while also reducing the gender gap. Non-traditional feeder positions should be more fully utilized and more outreach conducted to help the City achieve a more representative workforce.
  • Expand where and how the City seeks prospective employees and better utilize the Targeted Local Hire program, fellowships, internships and varied online platforms.
  • Evaluate and update salaries, job qualifications and job titles.
  • Adopt best and next practices employed by other government entities and the private sector – especially for attracting and retaining a new generation of employees.

New generations of employees seek to provide real impact, grow and develop professionally, and achieve a work-life balance. Many expect their workplaces to be modern, clean and conducive to professional interaction. Government offices should not conjure a vision of bleak, dark and outdated spaces and the City should consider adopting shifting schedules, job rotations and other mechanisms to retain workers.

Working for the City can provide tremendous opportunity, but we need to do a better job both cultivating our own employees and updating parts of our Civil Service system that too often has a lagging and frustrating effect on hiring. I look forward to working with the Mayor and City Council to enable a modernized human resources function that quickly identifies the best candidates, and assists departments in engaging and maintaining a productive workforce.


Respectfully submitted,

RON GALPERIN
L.A. Controller

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Executive Summary

The City of Los Angeles has a workforce of approximately 55,000 employees, comprised of approximately 41,000 civilian staff at all operating departments (including the Department of Water and Power) and about 14,000 sworn personnel at the Police and Fire Departments. Nearly half of the civilian employees are age 50 or older, and many are eligible for retirement. The City has routine turnover and like all employers, faces challenges in a competitive job market.

As Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers retire, prospective employees from the Millennial and Generation Z join the City for reasons different than prior generations. Leading research in public sector recruitment and retention identified distinct differences between the generations, such as Baby Boomers being more focused on job stability compared to Millennials being more willing to change jobs to meet their needs.

The City has recognized the need to recruit and retain employees using different approaches and, in 2016, participated in a Google Innovation Lab that set a goal to:

“Transform the City of Los Angeles to become the best employer in the United States by recruiting the best, hiring the best, and developing a thriving workforce for the purpose of delivering exceptional City services.”

The Controller conducted this review to identify the leading practices adopted by the City and what challenges still exist, and to make recommendations to improve the City’s ability to select and hire employees, attract the best suited candidates, and retain and engage City employees.

THE COMPLEXITY OF SELECTING AND HIRING CITY EMPLOYEES

The City typically hires new employees through its civil service system. This system was designed to hire or promote employees based on merit rather than cronyism or nepotism. However, a number of factors can hinder the City’s ability to hire the best qualified candidates.

The City’s interpretation of the City Charter is very restrictive, and has unintentionally limited the recruitment of candidates from outside of the City and the number of employees that can be hired as exempt from civil service.

In Fiscal Year 2016-17, 17% of jobs were open to everyone, which are typically for entry level or very specialized jobs. 34% were open/promotional and City employees were given an advantage by having bonus points added to their raw employment test scores for each year of employment with the City. Hiring departments are required to consider existing City employees before external candidates, per civil service rules.

While some employees are part-time or exempt, the City cannot easily bring them into civil service. Without a way to bring people in at the mid-level management or career levels, departments recruit employees from other departments. City employees may also seek opportunities in different departments to expand their knowledge and experience.

In addition, the City’s ability to utilize exempt positions is limited; the City Charter identifies up to 150 positions that are exempt from Civil Service rules. The Administrative Code also dictates rules for City employment, including approval for exempt positions. It may be more reasonable for the Administrative Code to be the authority for all matters concerning exempt positions to allow more flexibility if administrative changes are necessary.

The City has a complex, time-consuming civil service hiring process which may result in the City losing strong candidates. As of December 2017, Personnel averaged 98 days to open an exam after a department request, and another 129 days to produce a list of eligible candidates to hiring departments (for a total of 227 days).

Personnel acknowledges that their multi-step process affects the hiring process, and reported that it is not meeting a Mayoral goal to complete exams and establish certified lists of candidates within 150 days for 90% of regular exams. Personnel reported that it met the goal 64% of the time in FY 2016-17 but improved to 68% through December 2017.1 While the City is improving, we noted that four other cities reported shorter recruitment timeframes.

For example, the City of San Diego averages 58 days, and attributed its success to a predictive model for determining when exams are given. The City of San Jose takes 40 days, as their Personnel Department has tightened the minimum job requirements and delegated much of the hiring process to departments. While these cities differ from the City of Los Angeles in total number of employees and may not have the same Charter constraints or workload, the difference in timeframes is still notable and Personnel should continue its efforts to reduce its overall processing timeline.

To address these selection and hiring issues, the City should:

  • Develop a career path for experienced exempt and part-time City employees into the Civil Service system. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department working with City Attorney, City Council and the Civil Service Commission)
  • Reduce the examination advantage given to existing employees relative to unlimited seniority points for non-managerial positions. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department working with City Attorney, City Council and Civil Service Commission)
  • Pursue all available options to consolidate Civil Service exempt provisions into the Administrative Code. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department working with City Attorney, City Council and Civil Service Commission)

Continue to work towards shortening the exam development phase by working with job experts and vendors as planned to establish a job bank of questions for exams before recruiting by focusing on hard-to-fill positions. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department)

1 According to Personnel, they currently complete exams within 150 days 72% of the time.

BRANDING THE CITY & ATTRACTING THE BEST SUITED CANDIDATES

To attract employees, the City needs to transform how it recruits and hires. Technology has changed the way people search for jobs and how they think about those jobs.

The City has not devoted adequate resources to recruiting, which is needed to expand outreach to potential candidates, and ensure the City’s workforce is representative of the communities it serves.

Personnel has no recruiting budget and must rely on other departments to fund recruitment efforts on their behalf. As a result, the Department is limited on where it can advertise job openings and has used free social media (e.g., Twitter and Facebook). However, there are many other job search/recruiting sites, such as Indeed.com, that should also be fully utilized to optimize Personnel’s outreach efforts.

Moreover, resources are needed to reach underserved populations and bring more women into non-traditional and management roles. Women only represent 35% of the City’s civilian workforce, yet are 50% of the City’s population.

The City should increase its use of alternative paths into City employment.

The City has been able to reach local residents and underserved communities through its Targeted Local Hire (TLH) program, which provides an entry into civil service. However, while the City does hire fellows and interns, it has not developed a career path for their entry into civil service like other organizations. For example, the County of Los Angeles’ Fellows program provides a career path into mid-level management for its participants.

The City should evaluate whether salaries, job qualifications and job titles are aligned with comparable industry jobs.

The City receives thousands of applications for customer service entry-level jobs in the Department of Water of Power likely because of relatively high starting salaries, yet professional jobs in information technology may pay less than their counterparts in the private sector.

Further, City departments may not have the necessary flexibility to expand or narrow the minimum job qualifications for openings in their departments in order to appeal to prospective employees.

Lastly, while Personnel has taken some steps to address outdated job titles, such as Clerk Typist being renamed Administrative Clerk, the City’s information technology job titles are not aligned with industry job titles that are more familiar to new college graduates.

To address branding the City and attracting the best suited candidates, the City should:

  • Provide the Personnel Department with dedicated funds for outreach and recruitment. (Responsible entity: City Policymakers)
  • Focus on universities, organizations and events for women to address the gender gap in its workforce and provide non-traditional and management roles for women. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department working with Policymakers and City stakeholders)
  • Increase the use of alternate pathways into civil service by establishing innovative partnerships with non-profit organizations to provide job training as a substitute for civil service exams. Allow City student interns and fellows to qualify for civil services and use fellowships as a pipeline for mid-level managerial positions. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department working with Policymakers and City stakeholders)
  • Conduct a salary study to determine whether existing City salaries are aligned with industry benchmarks. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department and the City Administrative Officer)
  • Provide hiring departments the flexibility to expand or narrow job requirements to qualify the best internal or external candidates. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department)
  • Update job titles, as necessary, to correspond with industry terminology and make jobs relatable to applicants. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department)

RENEWING THE WORKFORCE & ENGAGING EMPLOYEES

A survey of state and local governments notes that turnover is one of the greatest challenges to managing their workforce. As the City renews its workforce, it must appeal to employee motivations and concerns. All employees need to be engaged to remain productive, but research suggests that Millennials and Gen-Z employees value different things than prior generations who were drawn to government service primarily for its stability and financial security.

This presents the City with an opportunity to shift its organizational paradigm, so that it appeals to and renews its workforce now and far into the future with Millennials and Gen-Zs who generally, as a group, value the following:

  • Opportunity to Make a Difference in an Organization that is Aligned with their Values
  • Flexible Compensation and Benefits
  • Opportunities for Professional Development
  • Opportunities for Promotion
  • Variety, Collaboration and Interesting Work
  • Feedback
  • Flexible Work Arrangements

The City should work to improve the onboarding/work experience from the very beginning, offer more flexible benefits, provide clearer career paths, and offer more leadership and job training. These changes could be accompanied by transforming the Personnel Department into a true human resources function, with a new name to better match those responsibilities.

The City could establish a more robust “onboarding” experience for newly hired employees.

City departments typically conduct a new employee orientation on the first day to review policies and procedures, select employee benefits and complete paperwork. Onboarding is a much longer process that frequently starts before the employee’s first day and may last up to a year. Onboarding provides new employees with opportunities to meet colleagues, learn new processes, integrate into the workplace and identify how they can make a difference.

While the City offers attractive compensation and benefits, more flexibility is needed.

Employee salaries generally increase on a regular basis, regardless of performance, as negotiated between the City and labor. However, in the private sector and in a few government agencies, pay increases are primarily merit-based.

Although the City’s benefits can be appealing to employees, more flexibility to customize those benefits may better address employee needs.

The City should focus on talent management, leadership development, mentoring, and job rotations.

Millennials expect information quickly in order to develop into leadership roles rather than gaining knowledge over time. They rank training and development higher than financial benefits, because professional development prepares employees for advancement. However, leadership training and tuition reimbursement are inconsistently offered within the City. We noted BOE has mentoring and job rotation programs, which should be explored citywide.

To address issues relative to retaining and engaging employees, the City should:

  • Develop a robust onboarding process for new employees. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department)
  • Consider introducing some elements of merit-based pay as a means to retain high performing employees. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department working with the City Administrative Officer [CAO], Policymakers and City stakeholders)
  • Provide a cafeteria-type benefit package that employees can customize. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department working with Policymakers and City stakeholders)
  • Develop consistent training and development opportunities for employees and consider providing more educational opportunities to employees through a citywide tuition reimbursement program. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department, Policymakers and City stakeholders)
  • Increase employee opportunities to promote or expand their work experience through job rotation and mentoring programs. (Responsible entity: Personnel Department)

CONCLUSION

The City can be the best employer in the U.S. by recruiting the best, hiring the best, and developing a thriving workforce for the purpose of delivering exceptional City services. Despite limited resources, Personnel has improved its outreach using creative means to reach prospective employees. However, there is more to be done and it will take policymakers and hiring departments to understand the different motivations of the new workforce to not only attract the best, but engage and retain them within City service.

The City should continue to shorten the hiring timeline and communicate with prospective employees at the various stages of the hiring process to prevent the best applicants from being hired by competitors. As new generations may be more likely to leave the City if it is outdated and inflexible, more emphasis needs to be made to retain employees through improved engagement. Personnel can provide the leadership for the City to effect this shift, especially if given the resources and support to become a true human resource function, rather than a department that is overburdened by a lengthy process and an emphasis on compliance.

REVIEW OF THE REPORT

On June 25, 2018, a draft of this report was provided to the Personnel Department. We met with Personnel management at an exit conference held on July 10, 2018, and considered their comments as we finalized this report. Personnel generally agreed with the issues and recommendations, providing some updated information and clarifications, including their opinion that some recommendations may be more appropriately directed to other City departments.

For example:

Personnel management indicated that they do not have authority to negotiate or determine employee compensation (Recommendations 7a and 11) or employee benefits (Recommendation 12a), noting the CAO, Policymakers and labor partners negotiate employee compensation and benefits.2 As the City’s Human Resources agency, and primary recruiter and administrator of the civil service process and employee benefits, we believe that Personnel should lead an effort to ensure City salaries align with industry benchmarks, and pursue other compensation options such as merit-based pay and flexible employee benefit packages to make the City an attractive employer of choice. Personnel management also discussed promoting other aspects of City employment as incentives, such as little to no job-related travel required by City job. Personnel management may consider hiring a consultant to study City salaries and benefits to provide City leaders and stakeholders with information to support changes.

Personnel also indicated they do not have authority to require City departments use the CLEAR evaluations system through Cornerstone (Recommendation 15). We acknowledge that departments do not report to Personnel; however, there are many instances of Administrative Code requirements related to training and developing the workforce that recognize the need for Personnel to assist departments. Personnel is an integral partner with management to ensure employees receive regular feedback on their performance and development plans. Personnel should take a more proactive role to ensure departments take advantage of enhanced systems and tools to provide for regular employee performance evaluations.

Personnel management agreed that it is important to understand how to recruit and retain Millennials, and that the City should consider the importance of its workplace environment (Recommendations 18b and c). While individual departments are responsible for their own workplace design and maintenance, Personnel should advocate for improvements that are important to the new and current workforce. Personnel also agreed that although there had been previous efforts to change City Charter civil service provisions, continuing to review for possible improvements is beneficial to the City.

We thank Personnel staff and management for their time and cooperation during this review.

1 According to Personnel, they currently complete exams within 150 days 72% of the time.

2 Employee benefits are negotiated by the CAO, approved by the Mayor and City Council with input from the Joint- Labor Management Benefits Committee.

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The Complexity of Selecting and Hiring Employees

Most of the City’s workforce is comprised of civil service employees. The civil service system was designed to hire or promote government employees based on merit rather than cronyism or nepotism. However, a number of factors can hinder the City’s ability to hire the best qualified candidates. This includes the City’s long hiring process and legal restrictions based on the interpretation of the City Charter and related civil service rules, as well as outdated job titles and minimum job qualifications that may be too narrowly defined, eliminating good candidates.

First time applicants can find the hiring process lengthy and difficult to navigate, and can result in promising candidates leaving the recruitment process. As of December 2017, Personnel identified it took an average of 227 days from departments’ request for an exam to providing a list of eligible candidates to hiring departments. Successful recruiting through the hiring process will need to be modernized and funded to ensure the City can hire the best candidates. Broadly, this modernization should include opening up jobs to more outside candidates, allowing departments to own more of the hiring process (especially for unique positions), reducing the hiring timeframe for all prospective employees, and increasing transparency and communication with those candidates. Additional funding could also help support the execution of these functions.

A. The City has interpreted the City Charter to be very restrictive, limiting the opportunity to recruit external candidates.

City Charter Section 1009 states, “The board (Board of Civil Service Commissioners) shall by its rules provide for promotion in the classified civil service on the basis of ascertained merit and seniority in service and examination, and shall provide, in all cases where it is practicable, that vacancies shall be filled by promotion.”

Civil Service Commission rules interpret the Charter to require job openings be filled by current City employees. While this can be positive for existing civil service employees, it limits the City’s ability to select candidates from outside the City, or from experienced exempt or part-time City employees. Although the City invests in part-time and exempt employees, it cannot easily bring them into civil service. 3 The inability to bring people in at the mid-level management or career levels drives departments to recruit employees from other departments.

Even when a job opening is available to external candidates, it is typically classified as Open/Promotional, which gives preference to regularly appointed civil servants. The certified list provided to departments by Personnel presents current civil service employees ahead of applicants from outside the City and exempt City employees. Civil service employees are also given an advantage by having unlimited seniority points added to their raw scores. Only management positions have limitations to the number of seniority points that must be included in those scores. During Fiscal Year 2016-17, the City posted 201 civil service jobs on its recruitment website; however, only 17% of jobs were open to everyone, typically for entry level or very specialized jobs, and 34% were open/promotional jobs. In contrast, the cities of Austin, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco offer mid-level management positions through an open/competitive process that is open to internal and external candidates alike.

B. The City’s ability to utilize exempt positions is dictated by the Charter.

The City Charter codifies the civil service requirements for City employment, placing limits on which departments and which positions are to be exempt from Civil Service. The Charter also specifies that up to 150 positions for management, scientific, professional or expert positions will be made available citywide. Since these provisions are contained in the City Charter, changes cannot be made without voter approval.

However, the Administrative Code promulgates additional rules of City employment, including approval for exempt employees. This presents an opportunity for the City to consolidate all exemptions into the Administrative Code and allow for administrative changes to be made as necessary without taking the steps required for revising the City Charter.

C. The current multi-step process for civil service hiring is complex and time-consuming. As of December 2017, Personnel averaged 98 days to open the recruitment and an additional 129 days to provide a list to departments (total of 227 days).

Personnel processes thousands of applications each year, through a minimum of 13 steps (as noted on the following page) that involves multiple parties, including the operating department(s) that desires to hire a new employee, as well as the City’s Department of Personnel. This contributes to the complexity of selecting and hiring employees.4

Step 1
Responsibility: Operating Dept.
Requests new candidate list, if expired, the following steps occur:

Step 2
Responsibility: Personnel Dept.
Reviews job classification (Examining & Classification Divisions

Step 3
Responsibility: Personnel Dept.
Creates a new/revised job bulletin

Step 4
Responsibility: Personnel Dept.
Creates civil service test

Step 5
Responsibility: Personnel Dept.
Posts job bulletin on NeoGov website (usually for 2 weeks), advertises in social media

Step 6
Responsibility: Personnel Dept.
Closes out the filing period, addresses appeals, & schedules test

Step 7
Responsibility: Personnel Dept.
Administers exam, may be multi-phased with qualifying test & panel interviews comprised of subject matter experts

Step 8
Responsibility: Personnel Dept.
Validates and scores tests, addresses appeals & creates the certified list of candidates

Step 9
Responsibility: Operating Dept.
Upon completion of Personnel steps, requests the new certified list of eligible candidates (highest 3 whole scores)

Step 10
Responsibility: Operating Dept.
Screens candidates, using written exercises, interviews, or physical practical tests

Step 11
Responsibility: Operating Dept.
Selects candidate and makes job offer (pending successful background & medical check)

Step 12
Responsibility: Personnel Dept.
Conducts background check and medical exam

Step 13
Responsibility: Personnel Dept. & Operating Dept.
Provides orientation to new employee

Personnel acknowledges that their multiple step process affects timing, and reported that it is not meeting a Mayoral goal regarding completing exams. Its goal is to complete 90% of its regular exams within 150 days, to establish certified lists of candidates. Not all steps are performed by Personnel and some of the timing delays are caused by hiring departments not providing their job experts when needed.

While timeframes vary by job classification and exam type, innovative practices can help. The City is becoming more innovative, and has made some progress in shortening timeframes. For example, some departments administer the civil service test on college campuses during career fairs for entry-level Engineer classifications. This has eliminated some steps typical to civil service hiring; (i.e., Personnel staff reviewing applications, scheduling and delivering written exams, and/or convening an interview panel to conduct civil service exams at the Personnel Department). More can be done.

Some cities have much shorter timeframes. While these cities differ from Los Angeles by number of employees, measurement points and possibly legal mandates, the results reveal practices that shortened their process and illustrate that Personnel should continue its efforts to reduce its processing timeframes.

Los Angeles: Averages 227 days from exam request to certified list of candidates. Reduced by 31 days as of December 2017

San Diego: Averages 58 days. Uses a predictive recruitment schedule

San Jose: Reduced from a high of 60 days down to 40 days. Focused on minimum qualifications and gave more autonomy to departments to lead recruitment efforts

San Francisco: Reported a median of 137 days (measuring to time to hire). Focused on two hard-to-fill positions: nurses & technologists

Austin: Averages 80 – 90 days until job acceptance. Only 26% of Austin’s workforce is civil service

The City has not focused on hard-to-fill positions. There are a wide variety of jobs offered by the City; some may receive thousands of applications, while others are hard to fill and are posted for continuous recruitment.

The City of San Francisco successfully focused on attracting and hiring hard-to-fill nurses and technologists (IT staff), by shortening the hiring time frame and delivering a consistent message of public service. An overloaded Personnel Department has not been able to focus on certain jobs without the initiative and support of certain departments (e.g., Bureau of Engineering for engineering associates).

Except for the timeframe for testing dates, the City also does not keep applicants advised of the timing of each step of the process, leaving applicants to wonder if the recruitment is still viable. Strong candidates may decide to take other opportunities, rather than wait for the conclusion of the City’s lengthy process. Recently, Personnel piloted “anytime/anywhere” computer-based testing in order to expedite the recruitment and hiring process. If rolled out as designed, online testing would provide an instant score and reduce time spent on reviewing every applicant’s’ qualifications, as only those with reachable scores would be reviewed.

D. City operating departments are considered the experts for their employment needs; however, individual departments are constrained by having to centralize their hiring process through the Personnel Department.

While some job classifications are broadly used throughout the City, other classifications are used by only one or a few departments; those could be filled more expeditiously through decentralized hiring. Decentralized hiring has been used by the Bureau of Engineering (BOE), by coordinating with Personnel to provide on-campus civil service testing for entry level engineering positions. Even using this method, once BOE performs an interview, the certified list of candidates is available to all other departments.

This process could be improved by enhancing Personnel’s role (within the parameters of the Charter and civil service rules) to become more of an advisor, working with departments and partnering with them to facilitate hiring, rather than being responsible for the majority of the hiring and selecting process steps.

E. There is increased demand for Personnel’s recruitment services to process thousands of job applications. Although Personnel’s workload remains high, two critical contracts that facilitated its work have been cut.

Two critical contracts were cut from Personnel’s budget after the City’s “managed hiring” limitations ended in 2012. Since then, exam requests have increased and resources have not been provided for Personnel to meet its workload demands. In some instances, Personnel processes thousands of applications for one classification. For example, Personnel received 2,080 applications for mechanical helper and 4,278 for police service representative in one year.

Although the number of applications fluctuates from year to year, Personnel’s workload will likely not subside as there are 900 different job classifications that require the Department’s service on an ongoing basis.

The chart reflects the volume of job applications received by Personnel. Although the Department does not have to review all outside applicants, it must review all of the applications submitted by City employees.

Section I Recommendations:

  1. The Personnel Department should work with the City Attorney, City Council and the Civil Service Commission to:
    1. Develop a career path for experienced exempt and part-time City employees into the Civil Service system;
    2. Identify options that would reduce the examination advantage given to existing employees relative to unlimited seniority points for non-managerial positions; and
    3. Pursue all available options to consolidate Civil Service exempt provisions into the Administrative Code.
  2. The Personnel Department should:
    1. Continue to work towards shortening the exam development phase by working with job experts and vendors as planned to establish a job bank of questions for exams before recruiting by focusing on hard-to-fill positions; and
    2. Promote transparency in its application review process by communicating more with applicants to set expectations on timing for steps and prevent the unintentional loss of qualified candidates. Enhanced use of automated tracking through systems such as NeoGov could help facilitate this, by enabling applicants to see the status of their application through the entire process.
  3. The Personnel Department should expedite the overall recruitment process and consult with policymakers when necessary to:
    1. Expand “anytime/anywhere” testing options and eliminate written tests where possible;
    2. Refine minimum qualifications; and c. Identify which job positions are unique to departments, and encourage those departments to become more involved in their own recruitment and selection, within the parameters of legal requirements.
  4. The Personnel Department should evaluate job classification names and how tests are offered to:
    1. Identify and propose opportunities to consolidate classifications based on shared knowledge, skills, and abilities in order to decrease the number of exam administrations and expedite hiring timeframes;
    2. Request funding and contract with outside vendors, as needed to relieve the workload; and
    3. Consider examining/testing more job classifications on a continuous basis.

3 23% of the City’s civilian employees are part-time.

4 The table summarizes the graphic attached in Appendix III. The flow chart in Appendix III was developed by the Personnel Department to demonstrate the City’s detailed process for recruitment and hiring of civil service employees.

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Branding the City and Attracting the Best-Suited Candidates

To attract the next generation of employees, the City needs to transform how it recruits and hires new people. Research5 indicates different generational viewpoints on what is important about a career, and what attracted members of the Baby Boom and Gen X to the City no longer holds true for many Millennials and members of Generation Z. Added to that, in today’s world, technology has changed the way people search for jobs and how they think about those jobs.

To adapt, the City needs to actively seek out a diverse pool of prospective employees and reach out to a wider audience – from online spaces to the communities where people live. Providing alternative pathways to City employment could also help attract prospective employees who might otherwise be overlooked. The City can better appeal to all prospective employees by emphasizing the meaningful and inspiring work that City employees do, and by making sure that outdated job titles are revised and clearer to understand. Political and financial support will help these changes become long-lasting.

F. The City has not provided dedicated resources for recruiting efforts.

Personnel’s advertising of job openings could be expanded to popular websites like Indeed.com, etc. with more resources specifically dedicated to recruiting. Some of these resources could also be used to reach underserved populations and include more women in non-traditional and management roles, as self-recommended in the City’s Equal Employment Opportunity Plan utilization report submitted to the US Department of Justice.

Currently, Personnel must limit where it advertises because it has no recruiting budget, requiring it to rely on a few departments to fund its already limited efforts.

G. The City could do more outreach to candidates to ensure the City’s workforce is representative of the communities it serves.

The City needs to address the gender gap to attract more women to its workforce, especially in non-traditional and management roles. According to one study6, the authors “found that female city managers bring different priorities and policy preferences to the job, and are perceived to be more responsive to their constituents than their male counterparts”.

Currently, the gender composition of the total City workforce (including all three proprietary departments) is 29% women. When excluding sworn employees, the percentage slightly rises to 35% women. Personnel reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that it has identified recruitment strategies to improve diversity in order to comply with federal laws. Personnel management indicated that they have developed targeted recruitment plans for some under-represented job classes, but are limited by available resources.

The City could also diversify the places and methods used to seek prospective employees. The City centralizes most of its recruiting and testing in downtown Los Angeles. This may have worked before the internet and when traffic was less of a barrier, but it does not work well now.

Currently, there are limited efforts to recruit prospective candidates from within their communities, or local high schools, trade schools, military bases, and colleges and universities. While the City could participate in more recruitment fairs, it could also make computers available to those without the necessary technologies, so that underserved applicants can obtain information on jobs or take tests from their neighborhoods instead of having to travel downtown to do so. The City could start by transforming unused space in the Personnel department to provide access to such computers, and then spread out into other neighborhoods.

H. The City should increase its use of alternative pathways into City employment.

Non-traditional feeder positions could be more fully utilized. Fellows and student interns may receive some benefit (e.g., college credit) and learn how the City works, but they are not provided an entry into City employment at the completion of their internship or fellowship; City job bulletins do not generally address those experiences.

The City developed the Targeted Local Hire (TLH) program to recruit from underserved communities (e.g., veterans, homeless people, formerly incarcerated people, disconnected youth, disabled people, transgender people, etc.). The Mayor promoted hiring through this program by issuing Executive Directive #15. Those hired through TLH are able to become civil service employees without taking a civil service exam, substituting their training for the exam. To date, six job classifications are applicable to TLH.

I. The City should evaluate whether salaries and job qualifications are aligned with comparable industry jobs.

We also noted that job solicitations for LADWP customer service representatives (CSR) resulted in 28,000 applications in one year and openings for meter reader generated more than 25,000 applications over the last few years. These jobs generated a lot of interest because they offer relatively high starting salaries (e.g., CSR starts at $57,000) and a pathway into City service.

Moreover, the level of interest for City jobs in general may be affected by minimum job requirements that may be too narrowly defined to provide sufficient flexibility to adjust the search for candidates as deemed necessary.

J. The City has some outdated job titles.

The City’s ITA management has specifically noted this as a concern, and wants job titles that new college graduates can identify with. Personnel has taken some action to address outdated job titles in the City. For example, the former Clerk Typist position is now entitled Administrative Clerk. With additional focus, Personnel could rename all City job titles that are not reflective of industry terminology or relatable nomenclature.

K. Personnel should continue to implement innovative ideas from the branding study (study) and Google Innovation Lab (Lab).

The Lab developed a recruitment goal to “transform the City of Los Angeles to become the best employer in the United States through recruiting the best, hiring the best, and developing a thriving workforce for the purpose of delivering exceptional City services.” Millennials value making an impact, and the branding study identified that the City should promote that a job in public service is a way to make a difference. The study identified opportunities to target the desires and expectations of Millennials (“Cultural Truth”) by emphasizing positive notions of the City of Los Angeles (“City of LA Truth”).

Excerpt from City Branding Study

Personnel has been creative in implementing some aspects of the Lab and study, with the resources allotted. Personnel staff produced YouTube videos that frame City jobs as inspiring, meaningful, diverse and fun. Personnel has also posted successful, creative ads on social media, including Facebook, Linked In, Instagram and Twitter such as the one for a Procurement Analyst shown on the following page.

Additionally, Personnel has developed a skill-matching site for entry level jobs to assist candidates on identifying positions that fit their skill sets and interests.

Section II Recommendations:

  1. Policymakers should provide the Personnel Department with dedicated funding for recruitment efforts.
  2. The Personnel Department, working with Policymakers and City stakeholders, should continue to improve its outreach by: a. Focusing on universities, organizations and events for women in order to address the gender gap in its workforce and provide non-traditional and management roles for women; b. Increasing recruitment outreach and exams offered on college campuses during career fairs, conferences, military bases, high schools or other non-traditional locations; and c. Providing options to candidates allowing for both centralized and remote sites for recruitment and testing activities. Recruitment efforts should be expanded to increase access by using other City neighborhood services/facilities (e.g., neighborhood city halls, libraries, etc.) and readying existing unused space by furnishing it with needed equipment and furniture to increase on-site testing.
  3. The Personnel Department, working with the CAO and Policymakers, should:
    1. Engage a consultant to conduct a salary study to determine whether existing City salaries are aligned with industry benchmarks;
    2. Work with hiring departments to develop job requirements that will qualify the best candidates internal or external to the City; and c. Evaluate job classification names, changing the job titles, as needed, to correspond with industry terminology and make jobs relatable to applicants.
  4. The Personnel Department should work with Policymakers and City stakeholders to increase the use of alternate pathways into civil service by:
    1. Establishing innovative partnerships with non-profit organizations to provide job training that can substitute required civil service examinations (modeling after the Targeted Local Hire program);
    2. Permitting City student internships and fellowships to qualify for civil service; and
    3. Using fellowships as a pipeline for mid-level managerial positions.
  5. Policymakers should fund and empower Personnel to implement innovative practices related to branding the City as a great place to work, and improving outreach and recruitment.

5 A compendium of research reported by the International City/County Management Association, entitled The Workforce of Tomorrow. Unless otherwise stated in the report, research cited is from this source.

6 The Workforce of Tomorrow, Richard Fox and Robert Schuhmann. 2001. “Mentoring Experiences of Women City Managers: Are Women Disadvantaged?” The American Review of Public Administration. 31:4, pp. 381–392.

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Engaging Employees in a Renewed Workforce

Considerable effort is dedicated to recruit employees, so it is important for the City, as it renews its workforce, to keep employees engaged by addressing their motivations and concerns. According to a survey of state and local government7, turnover is one of the highest concerns relative to workforce issues. The economy has improved, the labor pool is shrinking, and employees have other options, which emphasizes the importance of retaining and engaging employees. While much of the exodus from government organizations is due to retiring baby boomers, there is the risk of losing disengaged workers or retaining disengaged and unproductive workers.

All employees need to be engaged to remain productive but research indicates that Millennials and Gen-Z employees value different things than past generations. Another survey indicates that “younger workers expect to stay in jobs for shorter tenures than their baby boomer counterparts”8. Therefore, the City must be cognizant of what is important to the next generations of employees as it renews its workforce. As a group, Millennials and Gen-Zs value the following:

  • Opportunity to Make a Difference in an Organization that is Aligned with their Values
  • Flexible Compensation and Benefits
  • Opportunities for Professional Development
  • Opportunities for Promotion
  • Variety, Collaboration and Interesting Work
  • Feedback
  • Flexible Work Arrangements

Therefore, the City should work to: improve the onboarding/work experience from the very beginning, offer more flexible benefits, provide clearer career paths, and offer more leadership and job training. These changes will also support a stronger shift in the role of the Personnel Department, from its current focus on hiring, and serve to help transform it into a more robust department for Human Resources, which should also be reflected by a formal name change to the Department.

L. The City could improve its employee orientation process by making it a true “onboarding” experience that provides newly hired workers with opportunities to meet colleagues, learn new processes, integrate into the workplace, and identify how they can make an impact.

Orientation typically occurs in one day and focuses on reviewing rules and policies, choosing benefits, and completing paperwork. Onboarding is a longer process that keeps new employees engaged and connected with others. Private industry frequently starts the onboarding process before the employee’s first day. For some federal government managerial positions, onboarding lasts a whole year.

The positive effects of a robust onboarding process extend far beyond the first day and can help employees feel engaged. After the City has invested the resources to hire its employees, it should provide a positive experience to transition employees into the City family.

M. The City’s compensation and benefits package is attractive, but benefits could be more flexible.

The branding study revealed that employees value compensation. Employees’ pay is typically increased annually, regardless of performance and, for most employees, as negotiated by unions. In the private sector and in a few government agencies, salary increases are primarily merit-based. In addition to considering merit-based pay, the City should also consider providing managers with more discretion to increase salaries as a means to retain experienced employees.

The City’s benefits are also attractive. However, the City could offer more flexibility allowing employees to customize their benefits package to better align it with their own personal situation. The County of Los Angeles provides a set amount to be spent on benefits, allowing increased flexibility to their employees.

N. Limited career paths and lack of awareness about job opportunities affect employee engagement and retention.

Career ladders are well-defined for only some classifications, and employees are not readily made aware of opportunities for which they qualify. Personnel voluntarily publishes internal transfer opportunities if a department makes the request, but there is no requirement to post those opportunities on governmentjobs.com, which would make the process more open transparent and result in more applicants.

O. Research suggests that government should focus on talent management, leadership development, mentoring, and job rotations.

Leadership development and tuition reimbursement are inconsistently offered in the City. Personnel provides classroom leadership training to the 23 departments that it directly serves. A few other departments also offer this type of training, but employees in smaller departments may not have that opportunity. DWP and the Port have tuition reimbursement programs that cover all or significant portion of the employee’s costs, but some departments do not offer any tuition reimbursement at all.

Millennials expect information quickly in order to develop into leadership roles rather than gaining knowledge over time. They rank training and development higher than financial benefits, because professional development prepares employees for advancement. If the City expects to grow talent from within, it must help its employees gain new ideas and expertise by expanding their opportunities, through both internally sponsored, and external training programs.

In addition, formal mentoring or job rotation programs help employees learn how to succeed in the organization. LA County uses job rotations to help employees develop, and we noted mentoring and job rotation programs at BOE.

P. In order to retain the new generations of employees, the City needs to improve its feedback mechanisms, as this is relevant and important to Millennials and Gen-Z.

New employees want feedback–not the traditional annual performance evaluations, but frequent, real-time feedback or coaching to improve performance and receive recognition. The City does not enforce regular employee evaluations, and some employees receive little or no feedback on their performance. Personnel introduced the City of Los Angeles Employee Assessment and Review (CLEAR) program using the Cornerstone platform. CLEAR enables interactive reviews focusing on communication career development and performance improvement; while it is available to all departments, only LADOT is using this tool.

Feedback is also beneficial when it is used to facilitate 360 evaluations, where management also obtains information from existing or departing employees through surveys and exit interviews.

Q. New generations of employees highly value work-life balance, and desire more control over their time through flexible schedules and telecommuting.

Millennials prefer self-directed work, reduced layers of decision making, and working in teams in a friendly, relaxed environment. They also value a balanced work-life schedule and flexibility. “State and local governments are implementing policies and procedures that support and promote work-life integration and balance”9. Most City departments offer some flexibility in scheduling for their employees, providing choices of 4/10, 9/80 and 5/40 work schedules. Additional flexibility may also be provided to employees by allowing them to take on-site college classes or address child care needs on certain days.

Telecommuting is widely offered and successfully implemented in the federal government; and some local jurisdictions have offered telecommuting options. The report entitled, “Status of Telework”10, stated that telecommuting improves employee attitudes, recruitment, and retention and has a positive impact on the environment with reduced commuting miles, and reduced real estate and energy usage. While the City has a telecommuting policy, we only noted a few departments using this option. Currently, ITA is considering implementing telecommuting for the 311 operators.

R. Workplace conditions, including technology, can have a significant impact on employee performance and satisfaction.

Next generation employees are more mobile and more reliant on information and communication technologies. Growing up with technology, they expect to have up to date tools and technology at their jobs.

Physical space and the ability to interact with other team members is another important consideration for new employees. The federal government identified that “designing innovative workplaces provides high performance facilities to attract and retain talented, motivated employees”11. The report identifies working conditions, including physical design and technology as critically important.

Government agencies have a reputation for maintaining outdated, bleak spaces, which may be compounded by poor environmental conditions (i.e., poor lighting, poor indoor air quality, etc.). For example, during difficult economic times, the City reduced janitorial services by eliminating window cleaning and trash pickup services. While these decisions made financial sense at the time, they should be revisited as unkempt workplaces can disengage employees and result in diminished productivity. Prospective employees may also be discouraged from seeking to work at the City when comparing the City’s work environment to other organizations. As the City’s Human Resource representative, Personnel should advocate for continued investments in workspace improvement and tools, to decision makers and departments that have those responsibilities.

S. As the Personnel Department continues to develop its role to support City departments and the entire workforce, it should change its name to “Human Resources” to better align with its role and mission.

Due to budget constraints, and cultural history, including the decentralized nature of the City operations, Personnel is not able to do as much in areas of employee retention and engagement. Its focus has been with the complex selecting and hiring process on behalf of City departments. If supported, it could function more as a true “Human Resources” department that helps develop and implement citywide programs for employee training, leadership development, succession planning, etc.

Section III Recommendations:

  1. The Personnel Department should develop a robust onboarding process that is geared towards engaging new employees, which may include a:
    1. welcome package and formal job offer;
    2. welcome video that introduces new hires to the City, its departments/divisions, Council/committees, commissions, the budget process; and
    3. packet of information on mentorships and career advancement, in addition to the current process of reviewing policies and benefits.
  2. The Personnel Department should work with the CAO, Policymakers and City stakeholders to propose some elements of merit-based pay to allow managers discretion to increase salaries as a means to retain employees.
  3. The Personnel Department should work with the CAO, Policymakers and City stakeholders to consider giving more benefit flexibility to employees such as:
    1. Providing a cafeteria-type benefit package that employees can customize, rather than a one size fits all plan; such as an allowance of funds for an employee to use to purchase the benefits that are most important to him/her.
  4. The Personnel Department should increase employee opportunities to promote or expand their work experience by:
    1. Providing reciprocity between career ladders for similar requirements and experience;
    2. Requiring departments to submit transfer opportunities to the Personnel Department for transparent posting; in addition,
    3. Consider implementing the use of governmentjobs.com (the NeoGov module) for internal transfer opportunities;
    4. Explore establishing job rotations and mentoring programs citywide.
  5. The Personnel Department should:
    1. Develop consistent training and development opportunities for all employees that includes access to its leadership training programs, especially in departments that do not offer such options; and
    2. Work with Policymakers and City stakeholders to consider providing more educational opportunities to employees through a citywide tuition reimbursement program.
  6. The Personnel Department should assist departments’ efforts to improve feedback mechanisms for employees, by requiring regular evaluations. Personnel should promote customized development plans geared towards the employee’s career path and strongly advocate for the use of software tools to facilitate employee engagement and progress towards those plans, such as the CLEAR program through Cornerstone, which is being piloted at LADOT.
  7. The Personnel Department should encourage departments to use and evaluate the results of employee engagement surveys and exit surveys to make improvements relative to employee satisfaction and productivity.
  8. Personnel should encourage departmental management to identify and implement flexibility options that are consistent with work/life balance preferences of Millennials, such as:
    1. Use of telecommuting; and
    2. Adopting flexible work schedules.
  9. The Personnel Department should promote improvements to employee workplaces by working with Policymakers and appropriate departments to:
    1. Provide updated tools and technology;
    2. Improve workplace design; and
    3. Restore some maintenance services to provide a clean and healthy environment.
  10. Policymakers should provide appropriate resources and support to help the Personnel Department evolve from primarily a recruitment and regulatory body to a human resources function that focuses on employee engagement and development. These changes should also be effectuated by formally changing the Department’s name to the City’s “Human Resources Department.”

7 The Center for State & Government Excellence, Survey Findings State and Local Government Workforce: 2018 Data and 10 Year Trends.

8 Local Government Research Collaborative and Center for State & Local Government Excellence. 2015. Workforce of Tomorrow.

9 Local Government Research Collaborative and Center for State & Local Government Excellence. 2015. Workforce of Tomorrow. 10 The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reported to Congress in 2017 on the Status of Telework.

11 GSA Office of Government-wide Policy, January 2006, Innovative Workplaces: Benefits and Best Practices.

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