Zawiercie hosted the meeting on 19 and 20 September 2022, welcoming representatives of Cieszyn, Jarosław, Jasło, Jelenia Góra, Żary and Żywiec. The EMPIRIAE – URBAN HUMAN RESOURCES / STAFFING Network has also been joined by Nisko and Zgierz.
Tools for cities

Local government officials from Zawiercie, Cieszyn, Jarosław, Jasło, Jelena Góra, the Nisko municipality, Zgierz, Żary and Żywiec worked on issues associated with staff satisfaction levels in the context of action taken by municipal institutions. The meeting yielded a more effective human resources management system – an essential component in delivering the Local Development Plan and Institutional Development Plan.

How do we make good employees stay? How do we encourage them to get involved in urban issues? Last but not least, how do we change the local government employer’s image? Answers to all these questions may seem banal: make working for the authorities and other municipal institutions satisfactory. Yet: how does one go about making this reality?

The purpose of the September meeting was to develop a satisfaction survey scope for local government employees, taking account of the municipal authority operating context. Our attendants concluded that a sound, “tailormade” survey would improve chances for success. When can a study be referred to as “successful?”

  • If the majority of our staff take part (having found out about the purpose of the study and concluding that it’s worth their while);
  • If answers are frank (and constructive);
  • If employers are informed of the specific shortages of their institution from the staff point of view – as well as of the positive sides they should be developing and concepts for improvements and change;
  • If it provides feedback on actual sources of staff satisfaction and employee emotions, offering an opportunity to resolve current issues;
  • If employees receive transparent feedback on survey outcomes and on changes planned by the employer to resolve the identified problem(s);
  • If it finally turns out that study-based follow-up activities has produced measurable benefits!

Unquestioned benefits of the proposed work format include the combination of points of view chosen by multiple local governments, as well as assorted roles in local government institutions. Participants included persons representing local government employers and staff. Network members were joined for meeting purposes by Human Resources employees increasingly often facing serious challenges tying in with human resources management.

The heated debate on day one produced a conclusion suggesting that the first stage of work ought to comprise consideration of no less than ten areas of potential impact on staff emotions and attitudes, such as:

1. Emotional comfort at work.
2. In-house communication:
a) Among departments,
b) With other organisational units.
3. Level of satisfaction with duties discharged in terms of qualifications held.
4. Motivating/Demotivating factors (pay- and non-pay related).
a) Earnings and award system,
b) Training system,
c) Work conditions,
d) Social conditions (Social Benefits Fund),
e) Promotion system.
5. Work organisation and task delegation (including between departments).
6. Task force selection and appointment.
7. Interpersonal relations (understanding, work climate, team integration).
8. Sense of security.
9. Introducing changes, innovation.
10. Identifying with the authority’s mission and city/town/municipality goals.

Proceedings were no less intense on day two, meeting attendants asking and listing questions they were seeking answers to. They developed an expansive file of nearly 100 questions allowing outreach into employee-related emotions, needs, and opinions.

An Association of Polish Cities expert sociologist is now working to convert work outcomes into a research tool meeting standards required for survey-based studies. In the first quarter of 2023, EMPIRIAE Network members will meet online to recapitulate work outcomes and decide as to the ways of using them. Selecting key issues for current use from today’s vast catalogue will be a particular challenge. Participants will also discuss the issue of how to best prepare their organisation for the study.

In summary of the September meeting, one would be remiss if failing to mention the surprise prepared for attendants by mayor of Zawiercie Łukasz Konarski. The Experience Exchange Network group spent around two hours building their teamwork and communication skills through gaming.