City hopes to keep workers happier


In an attempt to edge out its competition, Federal Way is stepping up efforts to retain staff members.

Included in the city’s 2007-2008 mid-biennium budget is an allowance of $293,800 to be used toward increasing staff recruitment efforts, development and wellness.

The move follows the loss of a handful of key employees, some of whom had been employed by the city since its incorporation in 1990 — and some of whom moved on to pursue similar positions in other locations.

“It’s always a concern when key people leave,” city manager Neal Beets said.

The city wishes to see its employees compensated well for their services, but also hopes employees are able to achieve their highest accomplishments, even if those are not reached with the City of Federal Way, Beets said.

Recruiting staff

Retaining knowledgeable staff members begins with the recruiting process.

Currently, the city is fairly conservative in how it advertises available jobs, city spokeswoman Linda Farmer said. Notifications usually appear in newspapers such as the Tacoma News Tribune, Federal Way Mirror and Seattle Times, she said. The city will start posting available positions at online job bank sites, such as, as well as in professional and foreign language publications, especially Korean ones, Farmer said.

Expanding recruiting efforts will also help the city attract young potential employees; many of them tend to use the Internet for job searching, management services director Iwen Wang said.

“Today’s job seekers demand different considerations,” Wang said. “The city is trying to meet the challenges of recruiting both today’s workforce in today’s job market as well as in the near future.”

These efforts will cost the city $25,000, according to the 2007-2008 mid-biennium budget.

Keeping staff on board:

An employee compensation study will occur in 2008, on a date to be determined. This will help the city’s managing staff determine how Federal Way compares, in regards to employee salaries, to other cities with similar characteristics. Though the city has evaluated the salaries of some staff positions, this is the first comprehensive study, Farmer said. It expects to find that some staff members’ salaries are at market level, but others are not, she said.

“As far as salaries go, we do check in on certain positions,” Farmer said.

The study is expected to cost $100,000, Wang said.

New and old employees alike will also receive a few perks for continuing their employment with Federal Way. One adult membership to the Federal Way Community Center will be provided to those interested in the offer. This is expected to cost the city approximately $51,800, according to the mid-biennium budget.

Staff who wish to continue their education will have opportunities to receive funds to do so. The money will come from the education assistance fund, which previously held $10,000, but will now reach $35,000, Farmer said.

Additionally, employees will receive more holiday and vacation time. This will make staff members’ paid leave consistent with that of the police guild, Farmer said. One additional floating holiday and increased vacation accrual rates for employees not represented by a union will be available, according to the mid-biennium budget. A one-time 40-hour vacation for employees who have served the city for at least 10 years will also be offered, according to the budget.

The city expects these benefits to cost about $43,000 annually, Wang said. The money will go toward hiring temporary staffing or compensating current staff for overtime as a result of the increased vacation allowance, Wang said.

The domestic partners of city employees will also prosper from the city’s efforts. Benefits will now be extended to same sex and opposite sex domestic partners of city staff members. Partners must be established through an affidavit process with the city before benefits will be given. These changes are expected to cost $42,000 annually, Wang said.

An additional $7,000 will be spent in 2008 to cover family and medical leave costs, according to the mid-biennium budget.

Senate Bill 5659 requires employers to pay employees on family or medical leave up to $1,250 — $250 per week for five weeks, according to the bill.

The mid-biennium budget was passed by the City Council on Dec. 4. Changes will begin to take effect January 2008 for eligible staff members, Wang said.

“We know the job market looks different today than it did 10 or 15 years ago, and we expect the difference will be even more pronounced in the future,” Wang said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: or (253) 925-5565.


Say goodbye

Former city employees who left their positions in 2006 and 2007:

• Police chief Anne Kirkpatrick left Federal Way to become police chief in Spokane in August 2006.

• Assistant city manager Derek Matheson left Federal Way to become city manager of Covington in February 2007.

• Administrative assistant Patrick Briggs, after serving Federal Way since its incorporation 17 years ago, left the city manager’s office for a similar position in Kent in June 2007.

• Community development director Kathy McClung departed the city in September 2007, after 17 years of service, to fulfill the same title in the City of Spokane Valley.

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