How Phoenix is trying to recruit and retain for tough to fill positions

Published: Thursday, December 22, 2022 - 2:13pm

Bonuses, higher starting salaries and telework options are among tools Phoenix is using to recruit — and keep employees.

The city’s overall vacancy rate is 20%%. In some cases, Human Services Director David Mathews said applicants that don’t meet minimum requirements but, “We’ve also heard from individuals that this is due partially to wages, availability of telework and our hiring process.”

During a presentation to a council subcommittee, he said minimum salaries have been adjusted for some positions, work is underway to simplify the hiring process and some hiring events offer jobs on the spot. Departments can offer hiring and retention bonuses up to $7,500 for critical positions and employees who refer a successful candidate for critical positions can receive up to $2,500.

When it comes to lifeguards at the city’s 29 public pools, Parks and Recreation Director Cynthia Augilar said hiring bonuses will make Phoenix lifeguards the highest paid in the Valley, "A typical lifeguard, as you see, the recommended rate will be $15.72 an hour. That, combined with the $3,000 pay incentive makes their hourly wage about $25 an hour."

There’s not enough staff to meet current demand for on-site after school programs offered through the city. Starting hourly wages for recreation aides have been raised to nearly $16 an hour with plans to include hiring and referral bonuses.

The average vacancy rate for the city’s human services department is 25% but for casework aides it’s 63% with a turnover rate of 40%. Hiring, referral and retention bonuses are being used for hard to fill positions and the department said it’s participating in targeted job fairs and hiring events.

In June, the City Council voted to make Phoenix police the highest paid in Arizona. When results of a citywide compensation study are released next year, it’s expected pay will increase for many positions across the city. 

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