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Mission to assess employee environment through survey

This article originally appeared in the Friday, Aug. 3, 2018 edition of the Progress Times

Mission is contemplating what tools they will use to survey city employees and gain further insight into their jobs and work environment.

City council held a workshop last Friday to discuss the options for services that would conduct the review.

City of Mission logo“The consensus [at the workshop] was that we were going to do a performance evaluation survey for staff only,” Mayor Armando O’caña said.

The nature and type of questions in the survey will be determined by the mayor and city council. O’caña said they would be examining employee training processes and the “relationships between the supervisor and the employee.”

O’caña added that this was all being done “in the spirit
of improving the city.”

“Basically we want to find out about the morale,” O’caña said. “Keep in mind that I’m a new mayor, and Gus Martinez just came in also, and he also wants to assess the morale of the staff.”

If any responses come back listing problems, the mayor said they would treat them seriously and address the issues.

City Manager Martin Garza, Jr. said that the surveys would also allow employees to voice new ideas to help improve service provided to the community.

“For example, if you’re a dispatcher, and you have ideas on how daily operations affect the customer service, and you want to, you can provide those ideas,” Garza said. “We want to make sure the ideas are being shared by the employees as well.”

This initial survey will be separate from the employee reviews done by the city Human Resources Department, which are already in practice and conducted annually.

“The directors turn in their evaluations to HR,” Garza said. “I think the spirit of the council here is to promote better service and find out how we improve our service to the community.”

The surveys will not be specific with job description, and council plans for the initial study to be more general in nature.

The city is thinking about three different options for employee analysis.

UTRGV Data & Information Systems

Michael Uhrbrock presented at the workshop, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Economic Research Director, and he is part of the university’s Data & Information Systems Center. He conducted a resident survey for the City of Pharr.

“We looked at the pros and cons of that performance evaluation tool,” O’caña said. “But he actually didn’t give us the comprehensive information that he did in Pharr. I think there was a miscommunication there, he only gave us the survey that he used with the citizens.”

According to Garza, the performance instrument he used was conducted via mailed copies of 5-page surveys. He said about 7 percent of people responded to that study.

Survey Monkey

The idea of using Survey Monkey, an online survey service, was brought up because the Mission Consolidated Independent School District has been using it to conduct similar analysis.

It works by paying for a yearly subscription which allows the moderators (in this case, the potential moderators would be city officials) to send out as many surveys as they want for the duration of the subscription. Garza said, however, that the city would prefer a third party apart from city officials conducting the review, to remain as unbiased as possible.

“The Survey Monkey option is the one where the cost effectiveness looks a little bit better for us,” O’caña said.

OHI Survey

During the workshop, the mayor brought up the idea of contracting Dr. Roberto Zamora, the former superintendent of the La Joya Independent School District where O’caña is currently employed, to conduct the survey through the Organizational Health Institute (OHI).

“I also advised Mr. Garza [the city manager] that the person who does the one [surveys] for the La Joya school district is very effective,” O’caña said. “Dr. Zamora does a real good job, he has a program, he has a process, he has an instrument that also provides direct feedback and strategies for improvement.”

O’caña said LJISD has used the OHI system before.
Cost will be one of the determining factors in the council’s decision on what program to go with, along with benefits and effectiveness. Garza is currently assessing the three different programs and determining which would be the most useful for Mission.

“We want to make sure there’s a tool out there so they can communicate with us also,” O’caña said.
While O’caña has been recently elected as mayor, he served on the city council for ten years prior to his election, and this kind of survey has not been carried out before.

“Why is it coming out now? Because we’ve been able to have a discussion and a workshop on it to be able to dialogue that issue,” O’caña said. “I always wanted to do something similar to that, and I talked to several individuals [about it], but I never had a chance to bring it up to the level that it is at right now. There’s no hidden agenda to what we’re doing.”

The city council plans on reevaluating the three options and picking one from those to be presented at the next city council meeting.

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