Retaining Staff – Are They Happy?

Wednesday, August 9, 2023 | 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Crystal Lawrence, CPE, RPL, ENP

The most recent RETAINS study, commissioned by APCO, asked ECC directors to evaluate their staffing levels, and fewer than 30 percent reported their ECC was fully staffed the previous year.  There are many factors to consider when thinking about why your ECC is not fully staffed. Usually we consider hiring more staff to fix the problem, which is likely a needed step. But what about maintaining the current staff?

In the 2018 study, employees reported an average of nine years at their current ECC. These are the people who are probably working overtime and extra shifts to cover the staffing shortage. Their commitment to the ECC, the jurisdiction, the field responders and the public cannot be overstated.

According to the 2018 study, “Retention of productive employees is a major concern of HR professionals and business executives. It is more efficient to retain a quality employee than to recruit, train and orient a replacement employee of the same quality.” While pay and benefits are important, it is not the money that keeps good employees. In fact, the majority of respondents to the 2018 survey indicated they would turn down another job for more pay in order to stay with their ECC.

The average retention rate shows the percentage of employees retained each year. The 2018 Report found an average retention rate of 71%, which is a sharp decline from previous studies. In 2005 the national average retention rate for ECCs was 83 percent. 2009 research found an average retention rate of 81 percent.

Overall, employee survey respondents in the 2018 study answered that they are proud of their jobs and their ECCs, and express overwhelming interest in maintaining their employment long-term at their ECCs. The 2018 Report found the following nine factors can determine an employee’s commitment to the organization:

  • Supportive supervision
  • Co-worker support
  • Opportunity for promotion
  • Job complexity
  • Perceived recognition
  • Exposure to emotional strain
  • Coping resources
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Closeness of supervision

Supportive supervision, co-worker support, and perceived recognition from the public emerged as key factors predicting employee commitment to their ECCs. Proactive supervisors and inter-employee cooperation creates a supportive environment that energizes workers and helps lead to the successful operations of ECCs.

Submitted by Crystal Lawrence