New Orleans mayor proposes revision for ‘outdated’ hiring practices for city workers

Hiring managers are always trying to update how they reach out to prospective candidates, but these adjustments may not sit well with every staff member. Sometimes, rolling out a new human resources policy will take some convincing, as is the case for New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Landrieu has been working on updating how the city hires and manages more than 4,300 workers since 2011, but pressure from the Police Association of New Orleans and other employees has made the journey extremely difficult, according to the New Orleans Advocate. However, there may be progress coming soon: the mayor filed a formal request for these changes on April 21 of this year, and it could be effective as soon as May 21, 2014.

Many of the hiring decisions stem from how applicants do on the civil service exam as well as the recommendations from the Civil Service Commission, not department supervisors and managers.

The five-person commission is responsible for creating job descriptions for city jobs and selecting who is eligible to move on with the application process. Often times, the candidates who move on to the next round are the top three candidates of the written exam, the Times-Picayune explained. Despite going off of this cutthroat metric alone, it takes about six months for the city to hire one candidate.

“We often lose good employees because we cannot raise their pay or promote them. And even more often, we lose good candidates because the civil service approval process is antiquated and hiring often takes six months or longer,” Vic Richard, CEO of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, said in the mayor’s press release on the proposal. “These changes will make it easier the Civil Service Department to modernize and for managers across government to hire and retain talent.”

Landrieu’s “Great Place to Work Initiative,” has five goals in place. One of his most popular notions is increasing the minimum wage for city workers to $10.10 per hour, as well as giving city supervisors more of a stake in the hiring process. This way, offices know exactly who is in the running and can make better decisions on promotions and bonuses, the press release added. His full list of improvements includes:

  1. Better Hiring Techniques
  2. Better Careers
  3. Better Pay
  4. Better Processes
  5. Better Training

The mayor also plans on getting rid of the compensation structure. As it stands now, candidates who apply for city worker jobs are unable to negotiate the pay scale — no matter how much prior experience they have. As a new member of the civil service network, they begin their career at “bottom level” salaries. Landrieu believes this set up is also holding the city back from many potential hires.

“We need to create a workforce system where morale and performance are high and are rewarded,” Landrieu told reporters in April. “This is all about making city government a better place to work and at the end of the day will result in better service for our residents.”

If New Orleans does end up changing its hiring practices, they should consider having a system that supports it. HR software solutions can help the city identify high-quality candidates that have extensive experience, but did not fare as strongly on the civil service exam.

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