PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – State procedures for recruiting and hiring personnel are outdated and flawed compensation structures lead to the inability to retain skilled employees, according to a 104-page report released by Governor Lincoln Chafee's office Monday.
The comprehensive study, completed by Washington D.C.-based human resources firm The Segal Group, details inefficiencies in the state's human resources department and recommends hiring a full-time human resources officer, implementing an online application system and streamlining a classification system that included more than 1,700 job descriptions for state employees.
"The report confirms much of what we already know –our personnel system has considerable room for improvement," Chafee said.
The report, which was produced following several months of interviews with an 11-member advisory committee that included management, labor and leaders from the private sector, also recommends the state develop performance-based pay programs that "provide agency leaders and managers the flexibility and funding to recognize their employees' achievements and accomplishments."
The pay-for-performance model would first be created for non-union employees and union employees later. Director of Administration Richard Licht cautioned that performance-based pay is something that must be negotiated with unions.
"This is not management versus employee," Licht said.
National Education Association of Rhode Island government relations director Patrick Crowley said he still needs to bring the study to his union members, but he noted that 10 of the report's 16 recommendations include union collaboration.
"This is an important first step in the process of reform," Crowley said. "My union hopes it will produce important results not just for our members, but for employees in the state of Rhode Island. The system is broken."
Among the most glaring inconsistencies highlighted in the report were the pay ranges for employees with the same job title. For example, a non-union clerk secretary for the state can earn a maximum of $38,186 while a secretary for the correctional officers union can earn up to $46,992.
"These pay differences lead to administrative inefficiencies, confusion and reduced morale within the workforce, and poaching of employees between agencies," the report states.
The report also found that compared to the public sector average, the state's pay rates at both the minimum and the maximum of the pay range are well below the market average. Those at the minimum of the range, earn 7% below the private sector average while those at the maximum earn 18% less than those in the private sector.
But before moving forward with many of the recommendations in the report, the state will first conduct a classification study at a cost of $1 million over two years. The study will define job requirements, update job descriptions and ensure that employees are properly classified.
"The big news from that study is now we need a classification study," Chafee said.