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Workforce Development: Workforce Analysis & Growth

What is workforce analysis & growth?

WSDOT evaluates systems to achieve and maintain competitive and career pathways. We do this by (click through the tabs to discover):

Recognizing turnover

How do we measure recognizing turnover?

WSDOT uses retirement forecasts and actual employee turnover data to help understand our future needs. In addition, the agency reports the number of appointments made during the year along with our employee counts.

WSDOT turnover rate
9.4% Baseline

Employees eligible for partial or full retirement benefits vs. Actual retirement numbers; FY2020
Eligible for partial benefits Actual retirees
1,402  Arrow to right  240
Eligible for full benefits Retirement rate
478 3.8%

Full-time, permanent
WSDOT employees

Of WSDOT’s 2,116 appointments in FY2020:

  • 30% of employees were brand-new to the agency
  • 24% of the appointments made were promotional opportunities for internal employees
  • 46% = other (includes seasonal, reversion, reassignment, reallocation, project, non-perm, etc.)

Source: WSDOT Office of Human Resources and Safety, 2018 Statewide HRM Report.

Note: Numbers only include permanent or intent to become permanent appointments. Non-permanent appointments and separations are not included in these calculations.

More about recognizing turnover

Why is recognizing turnover a priority?

Recognizing turnover helps WSDOT to better forecast staffing needs to mitigate risks to future delivery by allowing us to plan for succession. Employment forecasts help WSDOT understand what the agency’s workforce will look like in the future. This allows WSDOT to implement strategies supporting and maintaining a stable and skilled workforce, even with the potential for retirements and resignations. Turnover also creates movement within the agency, resulting in the hiring actions and new appointments noted above. Adding employment appointments to the picture gives the agency a more well-rounded look at our future. These forecasts help the agency identify focus areas for employee training and development, as well as targeted recruitment outreach as described in the Talent Pipelines and Talent Development strategy areas.

How are we doing?

Annually, WSDOT captures personnel data for all staff movement and hiring actions in the agency. Despite the percentage of probable and possible retirees, only 3.8% retired from WSDOT in FY2020; the average age at retirement was 64. In FY2020, 24% of the agency appointments were internal, promotional opportunities for existing staff, and 30% were new hires to WSDOT. Analysis of these actions is followed by a review of classification-specific turnover rates and exit interview responses, as well as extended or failed recruitment activities when vacancies occur. More information on that process is captured under the Successful Classification and Compensation Changes tab.

What are we working on?

Given regular, ongoing turnover and staff movement, WSDOT is using increased outreach and referral programs to attract diverse, qualified candidates and remain an employer of choice. Additional information on agency strategies regarding outreach efforts can be found under the Talent Pipelines strategy.

WSDOT also uses a variety of employee development tools such as in-training plans and mentorship programs, as well as professional and leadership development training to prepare staff for career path movement. Employees at WSDOT can take advantage of training opportunities and those employees looking to continue educational career path development can benefit from the WSDOT tuition reimbursement program. The Talent Development strategy provides details on agency training measures and includes a spotlight story of knowledge transfer at WSDOT.

Lastly, WSDOT is reviewing positions across the agency that have risk of recruitment failure. These positions, known as “single-points-of-failure”, carry risk of inability to fill in the future if the current employee separates from the agency. This risk typically occurs in areas where the work is specialized, knowledge transfer is complex and takes time, and opportunities for cross-training can be problematic. To mitigate this risk, WSDOT is implementing a succession planning tool in January 2021. Assuming the pilot project is successful, the agency intends to release the succession planning tool for agency-wide use by managers by the end of the year.

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Successful classification and compensation changes

Spotlight How do we measure successful classification and compensation changes?

WSDOT evaluates its job classification system in an attempt to maintain competitive compensation within state government. The first step of this process is identifying job classes at risk and requiring an update based on criteria in RCW 41.06. This update process is initiated every two years to align with the state’s collective bargaining process. The budget impacts are provided to the Governor’s office for consideration and ultimately sent to the Legislature for final approval. As the timeline below illustrates, Office of Financial Management determines feasibility; financially feasible agreements will be included in the next biennium’s budget. Successful changes are implemented nearly two years after the process is started, on July 1 of a new biennium.

Classification and compensation changes schedule image showing from Q1 2019 to Q2 2020
Classification and compensation changes schedule
Classification and compensation changes schedule image in smartphone size
Classification and compensation changes schedule
Classification and compensation changes schedule image showing 2020 Q2 to 2021 Q4
Classification and compensation changes schedule
Classification and compensation changes schedule image in smartphone size
Classification and compensation changes schedule
Here are job classifications being evaluated for FY2021-23:

More about successful classification and compensation changes

Why is advocating for successful classification and compensation changes important?

Employees who receive a comprehensive benefits package and competitive salary feel more valued in the work they do and are more likely to remain with WSDOT. Diverse, qualified candidates are more likely to apply and compete for open positions when salary and benefits are commensurate with other public and private sector compensation packages. If total compensation packages are not competitive, WSDOT could see an increase in staff turnover and declined job offers. Increased recruitment and retention issues could impact mission-critical services and WSDOT may not be able to meet its obligation to the travelling public.

How are we doing?

Recruitment and Retention
WSDOT uses nearly 200 Washington State general service job classifications. From July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2019, 84 WSDOT job classes experienced turnover rates greater than 10%, and 24 of those job classes experienced some extended or failed recruitments as well. In addition, the 2020 WA State Salary Survey, provides details of how Washington State compensation compares to market value, or private sector salaries. The salary benchmarks for job classes used by WSDOT can be found in the survey.

Total Compensation
A paycheck is only part of the compensation received by Washington State employees. They also have access to a competitive and comprehensive benefits package that includes health insurance, retirement, and vacation benefits. Washington State employees may be eligible for tuition waiver at state colleges and universities, as well as public service student loan forgiveness. Aside from the comprehensive benefits package offered to all Washington State employees, WSDOT offers additional benefits to support employee development and work-life balance. The Commute Trip Reduction program offers free or subsidized ORCA cards, transit passes, vanpool fare subsidies, or cash incentives for participating employees. WSDOT also offers a variety of flexible work schedule options as well as telework for eligible positions. See the Modern Work Environment strategy for more information.

What are we working on?

WSDOT is advocating for increased compensation for job classifications that meet statutory requirements. In July 2019, the agency submitted four compensation proposals to the Office of Financial Management for the 2021-23 bargaining process. The proposals encompass 12 job classifications.

At the time of submission, WSDOT anticipated successful implementation of the compensation proposals through collective bargaining, with an effective date of July 1, 2021. However, the budgetary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic halted all proposals.

OFM subsequently advised all state agencies that any proposal with an economic impact will not be considered for next biennium. The next opportunity to submit proposals will be September 2021—in preparation of the next bargaining cycle—with an effective implementation date of July 1, 2023, if successful.

In addition to capturing turnover rates, WSDOT also uses a statewide exit interview process to gather information from departing employees. The goal is to capture why employees are leaving and analyze how often employees are leaving for increased compensation outside of state government. By capturing this information, WSDOT will be better able to advocate for increased compensation in those impacted areas of the agency to help reduce the turnover of employees leaving for increased compensation elsewhere. In mid-2021, WSDOT will be transitioning exit interview efforts to a new enterprise-wide exit interview tool being introduced by OFM.

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