DAVIDSON COUNTY — An employee satisfaction and engagement survey spurred conversation between staff and commissioners at the first November meeting of Davidson County Board of Commissioners on how to improve the workplace for county employees.

Tony Dill, Davidson’s human resources director, said 278 employees participated in the survey, which revealed a few problem areas that he said need to be addressed. Perhaps most notably, only 48% of participants said they feel valued by Davidson County.

“[In asking the questions], we’re really trying to figure out what are we doing now that helps make you feel valued and what can we do better,” Dill said.

A quarter of the survey respondents reportedly had been employed with Davidson County for 16 or more years. A total of 75% of respondents said their supervisor takes feedback seriously, while 86% said supervisor treats them with respect.

Additional data indicated that 82% of participants said their supervisor is available and willing to assist employees when they need help; 77% said their supervisor communicates with employees on a regular basis regarding changes, new developments and policy changes; 82% said their coworkers can be relied on when an individual needs work-related assistance.

Broken down into peer groups, employees also indicated less-than-exemplary satisfaction with coworkers. Results showed that 70% of coworkers give each other respect, compared to 71% of directors who were said to treat employees with respect. A total of 68% of directors are said to be available and willing to assist when help is needed.

Employee pay was the category most glaring in terms of dissatisfaction, with 26% indicating that their pay is fair for the level of responsibilities assigned to them. Other satisfaction results showed 51% were content with vacation; 58% with retirement; 70% with the number of holidays.

Perhaps more concerning to staff, 53% believed they could reach their full potential with Davidson County, while 65% enjoy being at work and 60% feel valued by their respective department.

Overall employee satisfaction score came in at 62%, which is 18% below what county staff considers minimum satisfaction. The county is discussing the possibility of creating an engagement committee of employees to recognize employees, as well as possibly conducting focus groups composed of employees from each department.

Commissioner Steve Shell raised a concern that this committee could have an undesired effect if employees develop a mistrust of each other.

“If you were to do that, would you not be creating a fear factor with the other employees to that one employee that may be on that committee?” Shell asked. “It would encourage openness or shut it down.”

Dill said the committee should only be made up of employees. He also stipulated that department heads should not sit on the committee. Commissioner James Shores offered that his wife works at a local hospital and has said that type of committee is productive where she works.

“It works very well, because, where people won’t come to us and talk or won’t come to a director, they feel like Fred’s my peer,” Shores said. “So I’ll go to Fred and I’ll tell Fred what I won’t tell a commissioner or director.”

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.