Recruiting and Retention Task Force

Wednesday, February 15, 2023 - 11:00 AM


Joe Pete Wilson - Chairman


Chairman Wilson called this task force to order at 12:04 pm with the following in attendance: Stephanie DeZalia, Shaun Gillilland, Ken Hughes, Jim Monty, Matt Stanley, Joe Pete Wilson, Mike Mascarenas, Jen Mascarenas, Chelsea Merrihew, Joe Keegan and Jim Dougan.


Also present: Dina Garvey



WILSON: Okay, weíll try and get and started here to keep this day moving a little bit.

Iíll call us to order. Thank you for sticking around on this long conversation filled day, but the only thing on the agenda today, is a put a draft summery report and recommendations, that I really wanted to just review briefly, not go through it line by line, but ask that you give some feedback. You know what do we need to change, what did we leave out, what did we not highlight enough. So, just real quick; the first part is just a little part of summary of the work thatís been done, but the first recommendation is to sustain this effort, this mission needs a home and as Ken said earlier, the Personnel Committee seems to fit that. So, that the Personnel Department and then the Personnel Department might take on some of the operational aspects of this. So, again, having it in the Personnel Committee would make sense for a line or reporting. That would also give a committee channel for the County Manager or Budget Officer to make sure that weíre funding, planning, you know, keeping this mission alive by building it into our operations. So, thatís recommendation one, in a nutshell.

The second is marketing. We need to market and we need to do it professionally and this marketing recommendation is really right out the of the draft plan that everyone reviewed after we got some help from North Country Community College and Kyle Johnston there, who handles the type of outreach that we were looking at. So, that really hasnít changed, recommendation number two, from the draft-marketing plan that we all reviewed.

Recommendation Number 3 is having a communications and recruitment specialist. Someone who can not only manage our marketing, manage our partnerships with the college, with CV Tech, with BOCES. The things Charlie was eluding to in our last discussion. You know, having a job fair, the work that Jim and Ken are doing, tomorrow, to start building bridges. We canít do this ad havoc. If we just keep having it based on who wants to do it, itís going to start eroding or losing focus. And this Recommendation Number Three, to have a person in charge of this would also fit in, I was hoping Shaun would be back, at the end of last year, Shaun brought up the need for communications, marketing person for the County, as well. So, what I envisioned here is this would just be an additional, you know that person we would hire would have the expertise to handle the type of marketing, communications we need to recruit and retain, as well as some of the broader county. So, we wouldnít be asking for two communications people, weíd be trying to have someone who, weíre going to keep them busy with doing the recruiting and retention and also communications for the County.

And Number Five, the educational pipeline, you know, a lot of the things weíve talked about, a lot of the same things weíre seeing being successful, like down in Ticonderoga, that Donna Watton and Ti Alliance are doing and Kenís doing a bunch, and Jimís doing a bunch. And we really need to formalize this, the mission of it and then how itís going to fit in with the communication and retention specialist, Personnel Department, the Personnel and Administration Committee. So, those were the recommendations that I pulled out and Ken really helped put this together. But, this is where Iím at and Iím sure Iím missing some obviously things. So, I really want some feedback and it doesnít necessarily have to be off the top of your head, right now. But, if you make some notes on this and give it back to me or email me or if you do have some thoughts right now, it would be great to hear them and I can take some notes.


HUGHES: I have just a very quick, under recommendation Number One, sustaining the effort, just for clarity, itís the Personnel and Administration Committee?




HUGHES: I just realized that. And then under Number 3, communication and recruitment specialist, I think we want to add language in there about a PIO, Public Information Officer. I think thatís what Shaun is looking for, in addition to just general communications and I had, at his request, written up a report about that to try and education the Board about where we are, where weíve been and what weíve done and recommendations moving forward. So, I donít know where that, I did submit it. I donít know where it went. I have a copy, but just adding public information officer to Recommendation 3, I think would be wise.


WILSON: Yeah and if you have something from that other report that you wanted to cut and paste into there, let me know.


HUGHES: Yeah, Iíll reread the report. I like this, because itís just general. It sunrises and then the report goes more in depth, because youíre making recommendations. So, Iím okay with that.




HUGHES: And Iím glad to see you included the employee handbook and county hiring.


WILSON: Oh yeah, I forgot that, didnít I. Did I skip over that? And again, I wish Mike was here.


HUGHES: Iím glad to see that you had that in there.


WILSON: Oh yeah, I missed Number 4. In conversation, in talking to Mike about work heís doing and would like to do, revising and updating the employee handbook and County hiring and employment policy, I think is going to be key. If weíre going to have discussions about work from home, about part-time, you know how do we, like I know Jimís talked about trying to get some retirees back, part-time. How do we start building that in, so that it fits with our Union commitments, it fits with, you know, itís consistent across the County and it gives Department Heads clearly designated tools to be creative. So, I added this, about the employee handbook and policy in support of what Mike is doing.


DEZALIA: Yea, so we have a subcommittee for that already and we met last year, I think it was 2021.


MONTY: I think it was two years ago.


WILSON: I forgot, Iím on that committee with you.


DEZALIA: And we made recommendations. I donít know that they really went any farther than that. So, I think we can have some of those subcommittee meetings, again and weíll address those and take the recommendations that have come from this committee that do exist then and maybe add some of those things to our other recommendations that we have.


WILSON: Oh, thatís a great idea and youíre right. I remember that and we did a lot of work and I forgot that we were on that committee. So, yeah we should resume that.


MONTY: My understanding, we submitted that to Mr. Manning who gave it to Mr. Tedford and he had it just about complete with some other things and heís now charged Mr. Tansey with it, but we also went, if you remember, last meeting, weíre going to RFP for a consultant to piece everything, to try and find someone who will piece everything together for us, matching, mirroring it with the contracts and stuff for us to look at. For them to do that work, with our suggestions and Iím not sure when the RFP is due on that, but I know that we just approved that, as a Board.


DEZALIA: Yeah, Public Sector HR did a really good job of melding all our policies together on ours.


MONTY: Yeah, so I think thatís going to go, fit right in to what youíre looking at. But, I agree, we probably should get together and discuss it, because Iím pretty sure it was í21. It might have even been í20.


DEZALIA: There maybe some additional things we want to put in there since weíve had this meeting.


MONTY: I think it might have been 2020.


WILSON: I think it was before Covid, yeah.


MONTY: I canít remember, Iíve only asked for it for 8 years. .


WILSON: Thatís a great idea, Stephanie and maybe we could sit, you know as we work this draft through a little more, we could get the three of us together, that would be great.


KEEGAN: This is great. A couple of questions and then an observation, maybe. So, is it, does the plan recommend the hiring of one individual and then this there a specialist?


WILSON: Yes, yup.


KEEGAN: The marketing would all be, the current vision is to have the marketing RFPíed out?


WILSON: Yes, we would, we looked at what Kyleís doing and didnít feel like we had the in-house ability or the, quite enough need to dedicate one person. Is that how we see it?


HUGHES: Yeah, kind of. I mean I keep thinking about Holly. You know Hollyís doing a lot of marketing for the fairgrounds and she has told me the past that itís just not, there could be more work put on her plate. So, Iím not saying that there might not be something internally, but there could be, depending on what the scope of work might end up being.


MASCARENAS, MIKE: And thatís the crux. I donít know that she has the tools to do that kind of marketing. I think being able to do television ads and/or those really fancy type press flyers.


HUGHES: I apologize. I was seeing her as an internal liaison to a hired out-sourced company.


MASCARENAS: Yes, agrees.


HUGHES: I want to replicate what you guys are doing.


WILSON: We looked at the collegeís model and the data that you get back from that and the why youíre able to tailor what youíre doing. That takes a level of sophistication.


HUGHES: I want an internal person to be the liaison to that.




WILSON: And overseeing.


MASCARENAS, MIKE: Joe, if you could and Iím sorry Iím coming in on this late, butI was just meeting on this 5 minutes ago, which is why Iím late. We are looking to develop an RFP, weíve got a couple good examples, but did you RFP to get the firm you got?


KEEGAN: I believe we did. Iíll get the contract to you.


MASCARENAS, MIKE: Yeah, if you did that would be a helpful thing to see. Weíre trying to collect explains of RFPs. What people are using.


KEEGAN: I canít remember. Let me look and Iíll share whatever we have with you.


MASCARENAS, MIKE: That would be great.


WILSON: And then you had some other points, as well?


KEEGAN: I did. The thing that we found is our communications specialist was so, itís important for them to be so tied into that marketing piece. So, that youíve got that synergy of messaging across, you know whether that PIO is quite the same role. Heís our PIO, heís our communications, heís doing enrollment marketing, heís doing press releases, all that kind of stuff. So, having that link of the communications specialist is important, if not a full-time job just to make sure that thereís that constant flow of the same thread of messaging going through.

And I was wondering if under 5, any of the educational pipeline duties could fold up under that person?


WILSON: I was hoping that. Iím hoping that weíre not creating a job thatís too big and with too many, thatís what I was hoping though. Is that we could keep this is one person and some, like with consistent messaging, the depth of knowledge. I am hoping, but I have no idea.


KEEGAN: And we saw, was it Finance Committee, I canít remember, but you had a presentation fromÖ


WILSON: Public Health, the ones with the videos and theyíre just getting ready toÖ




KEEGAN: So, thereís a model already out there about marketing Essex County.


MASCARENAS, MIKE: And I do have that information from them in terms of who they used, the tool they used to procure those individuals.


KEEGAN: Yeah, we use them, as well.

And one last thing, Joe Pete and this is a real quick read, but a lot of seems focused on recruitment. More recruitment heavy then retention and I donít know if thereísÖ


MASCARENAS, MIKE: You sound like Jim Dougan. Now, youíre going to get him going.


WILSON: And thatís a fair statement. Going through this I reflected on that quite a bit and itís so much easier to come up with ideas for recruitment than it is for retention and some of the things that we did already address. Like with the life insurance, the referral and I think when we overall the employee handbook, that might be a place. I struggled to get these bigger initiatives. Well, we worked when we looked at housing and childcare. I mean those are some of both, but youíre absolutely right.


MASCARENAS, MIKE: And youíre absolutely right, 100% right and thereís some real reasons for that and you probably even deal with it, somewhat at the college. This year weíre in a negotiation year. So many of these issues end up being contractual that youíre dealing with. You know, weíre at a competitive disadvantage in terms of civil service where we have a lot of different jobs that are in the same class. One area, Iíll give you a for instance, in DPW, Jim, if I misspeak, tell me, but theyíre get the general idea. Our MEOs are say a Grade 8, well we have 13 titles that are in a Grade 8. So, if we decide that our MEOs are getting paid too little and maybe thatís why weíre struggling to get them, itís going to impact every Grade 8 we have. I canít arbitrary move one Grade without it impacting every Grade in/around that. So, then the Grade 10s, well, hang on a minute, Iím a Grade 10, because I have this level of education or this level of experience or I have a doctorate; right and theyíre not wrong. So, now it creates a domino effect where towns may only have a handful of employees, they might not even have anybody else in a Grade 8. So, itís figuring out how to do that salary structure it a little bit easier for them. Iím not saying thereís not things we can do, there absolutely is. Jim and I are talking about for his particular office starting to create additional titles where movement can happen more free and easy. Where maybe we have, we havenít landed on this, but an MEO 1, and MEO 2, HEO, HEO 1, HEO 2. So, now weíre rewarding people that have been here for a longer period of time and weíre able to give them that shout out through title and theyíre automatically a Grade higher, because of that without impacting our whole salary structure, which is 500 employees. So, thereís some real reasons for that, Joe Pete, why retentionís a little harder, but in your contract, you do have things such as flextime; right? We have paid leave for different things. So, I donít want to keep talking, but.


HUGHES: I have to leave in 5 minutes, unfortunately, because I have a 1:00 grant meeting, but I just wanted to remind the committee of the November 4, 2022 webinar that I attended with Ian Coyle of Livingston County, heís the administrator there, Page 2 provides a bunch of strategies for retention. I actually spoke with him at NYSAC this weekend and had a really good conversation with him at retention and recruitment. If weíre looking for strategies, I donít think we have to create them. I think they already exist and I just would like to remind people of that November 4th document. I think we can add some of those in here for future consideration.


DEZALIA: Yeah, in Syracuse and along with Saratoga County they had a lot of strategies. I think the paid parental leave is also a retention and recruitment. So, thereís like creative ways that you can use different things for both.


WILSON: Thank you for sticking around, Ken. And I think again, this goes back to recommendation Number 4, the one I skipped about the handbook. A lot of this stuff is where weíre going to address it in our small work group, then in the Personnel Committee, Personnel/Administration Committee with the County Manager, with the Head of Personnel. A lot of that stuff is going to get developed and fully codified in that work.


MASCARENAS: One thing and like I said, I donít want to belabor this and before our Chairman returned I was going to talk about something that was very near and dear to your heart. So, every night or at least some point during the week the Chairmanís reminding me that we some sort of communication specialist in the County. Somebody to do that work and it looks like thatís part of your recommendation. That maybe something that we can look certainly look at sooner rather than later or make it part of the 2024 budget submission. Currently we have 85 positions or so, as we learned today that are unfilled. We could look at creating that and not have an impact on our current budget, because those positions are budgeted, quite frankly. If itís something, youíd rather do sooner than later, we certainly can and I think we can integrate, maybe the two goals to meet the needs of the Recruitment/Retention Committee and the overall County voice that weíre trying to get out there.


WILSON: And thatís what this recommendation was meant to dovetail with Shaunís talk about public information and so it was meant to be an additional rational for having the position and some additional duties to make it really a full time job.


MASCARENAS: Yeah, because that was my concern, at first.


WILSON: Yeah, so thank you. Any other thoughts?


STANLEY: I think recruitment is something that weíre sitting around here brainstorming to see who we can get to walk through the door. Retention I think is an issue, trying to get the voice of our current employees to help, maybe create some of those things that we may think are great things and great points that maybe we think would help retain people, but maybe thatís not what the employees think are important. So, I think in trying to get a pulse on the voice from our current employees may help us in some of those retention issues.


WILSON: And Joe and I were talking about recruiting younger people, whether itís for college or for the workplace. They donít want to show up 9:00-5:00, 5 days a week and they want to be flexible and they want to tailor stuff and thatís going to be hard for us to adapt, but we need, some of the things I was talking with Joe about were things that never would have occurred to me. I was getting them from younger, potential employees and college students and how are we going to adapt and itís going to come back to our policies, again.


STANLEY: Itís hard to plow a road from your couch.


MONTY: That was going to be comment, weíre as government employers, employing people providing government services, itís hard not to have people full-time.




MONTY: Because needs are there every single day, regardless of what department we have. Very few departments you can go and work from home and provide needs to the constituents that are paying you salary and thatís, to me, thatís a really strong consideration with anything we do.


DEZALIA: I can say that the three counties that spoke on this, they all implemented flexible work schedules. Where not everybody was coming in 9:00-5:00 anymore.


MASCARENAS: We do have that.


DEZALIA: So, obviously you have to look at every department. We would have to look at maybe their model and how it was working for them, because the implemented it. Theyíre in their first year of it.


MONTY: Are they unionized, too?


DEZALIA: Saratoga County, Monroe County and I think Livingston. I think it was three counties.


MASCARENAS, MIKE: We do have flex, but we donít have, so every department has the ability to do that and some of that reins on the department head. You do have offices that are statutory by nature and you have office that can be more flexible. So, like in IT, I have people that come in at 7:00 in the morning, right through 9:00 in the morning and I allow them to kind of set their schedule and it works. It actually is a better form of service, because now Iíve got coverage from 7:00 to 5:00. Places like DMV, are probably, Iím guessing are set by the State and say youíre open from this time to this time.




MASCARENAS, MIKE: So, if youíre a cashier or somebody working that counter you kind of got to be there from those times to those times. So, youíre right. We need to look at what titles can we be more flexible with? How can we do that and still provide a high level of service, because I think we would all agree that the Stateís work from home policy isnít working. We canít get a hold of anyone ever and so we want to provide that high level of service, but still provide that level of flexibility. Thatís the main thing and I think we can do it and I think we have an opportunity this year during the contract negotiations to work on those things.


MONTY: And playing devilís advocate, again and I donít mean to downplay anything. So, now weíre at some departments can offer it, right and some canít. so, now are we going to see an influx of people go and say, hey, I want to go from here to here, because I want to flex my time. So, the only thing weíre doing is moving the problem to someplace else. So, now youíve got less people working here, because everybody wants to go work here.


WILSON: But, I think that can be a strength, too, if we start identifying pathways in and offering, like Jim has talked about this, you start here, there are steps that you can work up where youíve got liaisons with training like the county or internal training. So, yeah that would be a way to get people in the door and they work their way up.


MONTY: Maybe, but also how do you explain to DPW, how do you explain that to the Sheriffís Department that these people and again, Iím playing devilís advocate here. Iím not disagreeing with anything weíre putting here, but I just think, you know this is not going to be a one fit for everybody.


MASCARENAS, MIKE: Itís all part of the discussion.


MONTY: There could be 20 different policies.


WILSON: Thereís going to be a lot of growing pains. At the job fair, I met someone that I would consider early career professional stage age, you know, probably around 30 years old and she said, I have 3 or 4 things that I do for an income stream, Iím totally in charge of my schedule, I can go anywhere, do anything I want, I am making enough money to be happy, but Iím exploring the idea of what it would be like to go to a job and you know, itís going to be to recruit people that bring real skills, but are coming at it from a point of view that I just never thought of before. You know, itís going to be growing pains for us and Iím sure for Saratoga, all the counties you listed, thereís growing pains there and yeah, weíre going to have to see what weíre comfortable with trying.

So, I would ask for any comments that you think of afterwards, please send them my way. This is a great discussion and this is really helpful. Iíll take what I got here. Look for other input. Weíll follow-up about the handbook and maybe get Shaun in.


DEZALIA: The subcommittee for the policy manual.


WILSON: Have emails been going out about that? I havenít seen them.


MASCARENAS: Friday, our RFP is due on the policy manual. So, we did put that out and hopefully weíll get some vendor that responds to that and we can get to work on that.


DEZALIA: So, maybe we can meet in March.




WILSON: That would be great.


MASCARENAS, MIKE: So, crossing my fingers. We didnít have a vendor, as of yesterday that has responded, but thatís not unlike a vendor to come in at the 11th hour and put in a proposal.


WILSON: Thanks everybody, thanks for being here this long.






Respectively Submitted,




Dina L. Garvey, Deputy

Clerk of the Board