By: Katie Kaneko, President
“Why don’t agencies collaborate more often?” This comment was made recently by a director at a small city. Over the years, I’ve heard from HR leadership that critical projects such as a compensation study or initiatives such as supervisor training, have been deferred due to competing demands for resources.
If you are reading this and find yourself in this same predicament, there is an option that you may not have considered: Inter-Agency Collaboration. In order to stay informed on your competitive position and make progress on staff development, a possible solution is to seek out collaboration with similar agencies. If two or three agencies, with geographic proximity and similar services, were to share the cost of a compensation study, for example, the same core group of labor market survey agencies would be used. Data gathering, the costliest and most time consuming effort, would only need to occur once. There is a real opportunity to capitalize on commonalities to get the work done in a timely and more cost-effective manner.
When I worked in the high-tech sector, specifically with software developers, we regularly collaborated with others in the industry. To obtain niche compensation data, in a highly competitive environment (and private I might add) each company would submit their job information and total compensation data to an objective consultant who would compile and present a summary report. In the end, all participants received a relevant, affordable, custom study to utilize for future decision making.
Reach out to your peers, surrounding agencies, or those with a similar profile, to gauge interest in collaboration on your study or training efforts, specifically those in which only a few employees at a time might participate, such as supervisor training. Many agencies participate in consortiums or regional meetings where people gather on a regular basis to discuss common issues, brainstorm solutions, and leverage knowledge. That is the perfect forum to discuss collaboration.
Customization for each Agency
With agreement on the appropriate labor market groups, i.e., agencies with geographic proximity, similar size, demographics, and services, etc., different cuts of data can be created to customize for each agency. While not every agency is going to have the same list of positions/job classifications, typically there is significant overlap in the types of survey “benchmarks” that are represented in similar agencies. Other aspects and nuances of each agency can be customized for each report or cut of data, as needed.
For example, K&A recently conducted a compensation study for two Community Services Districts that have overlapping services. Each provides water, wastewater, and parks services, while only one provides recreation services. It was easy to separate out recreation services from the rest and create customized reports and recommendations for each agency’s unique profile while combining efforts of data collection, job analysis, and matching for the majority of benchmark positions and classifications that were surveyed.
Human Resources training and/or study efforts are considerable and sometimes it may be cost prohibitive for individual agencies to take them on. However, these efforts are essential to every organization, so it is time well-spent to scout your region and look for opportunities on which to collaborate.