Haines, Alaska. (Bruce Barrett/Flickr Creative Commons)

Haines, Alaska. (Bruce Barrett/Flickr Creative Commons)

A recent survey gives a window into Haines Borough employee workplace satisfaction. The $5,000 organizational climate survey was requested by former borough manager Bill Seward. It indicates that employees are dissatisfied with compensation, benefits and career development opportunities. Employees show the most satisfaction with work engagement and teamwork.

­­They manage our taxes, enforce our laws, put out fires, and run our library and museum. The Haines Borough employs about 90 people. And that doesn’t include the dozens of volunteers and elected and appointed officials.

How do all those people feel about their work? That’s the central question in an organizational climate survey conducted by Blomme Quality Consultants. Interim Borough Manager Brad Ryan explained why he thinks former manager Seward commissioned the $5,000 survey.

“I think the incentive was to just find out how employees were feeling about their job, and volunteers as well, and elected officials, and see if there are ways we can improve upon how people are feeling about their work,” Ryan said.

The 100 people who took part in the survey were mostly full-time employees and volunteers, but elected and appointed officials also participated.

The respondents rated how much they agreed with a list of statements about workplace satisfaction. For example, ‘I am satisfied with my overall compensation.’ Each question was rated on a scale of 1-5, from strongly disagree to strongly agree.

That first question, about compensation, received a fairly low score: 2.75 out of 5. Low scores were a trend in all the questions about compensation and benefits.

Survey author Peg Blomme notes that this is not unusual, as most government workplace surveys receive low ratings on compensation and benefits. Blomme puts the Haines ratings in context by comparing them to a benchmark compiled from more than 20 surveys filled out by other U.S. government and public administration organizations in 2016.

In the compensation and benefits section, Blomme points out the most dramatic difference between the Haines and government benchmark scores. Haines rated nearly half a point lower on satisfaction with overall benefits and satisfaction with healthcare-related benefits. Haines employees are also more pessimistic about opportunities for professional growth, compared to their other government counterparts.

Things look a little brighter when it comes to work engagement and teamwork. Haines employees are more excited about going to work than their counterparts in the government benchmark. They’re also more positive about how helpful employees are to their coworkers.

One of the highest scores in the survey, a 4.32, went to the statement ‘I am determined to give my best effort at work each day.’ Employees’ satisfaction with workplace culture also received a higher mark.

But most of the questions drew more grim responses, compared to the benchmark. Haines employees are significantly more worried about their organization’s fiscal well-being than their counterparts. Blomme also flagged a concerning number for the question about whether the respondent has a good working relationship with their supervisor.

Blomme did not respond to requests for comment by deadline for this report.

Interim manager Ryan says he is reserving judgment on the survey results.

“[Blomme] has offered to do a call-in and run through the survey results so we understand it completely,” Ryan said. “And so I want to reserve judgment until I hear that presentation.”

Ryan says the presentation may happen at an assembly meeting, if the assembly requests it.

The survey notes multiple times that the results should be compared to future surveys. Whether the borough will make the workplace poll a regular event is uncertain. Former manager Seward, who instigated the survey, was fired in December. Ryan says he would leave decisions about future surveys to the assembly.

Read full survey here: HainesBorough OAS Results Final