How Phoenix is changing the hiring process to better recruit, retain employees

Published: Thursday, January 12, 2023 - 4:22pm
Updated: Thursday, January 12, 2023 - 4:40pm

Phoenix thinks it can cut the time it takes to hire new employees by 35% to 45%.

For more than a year, the city’s Human Resources Department has been working to streamline the process from when a department head requests approval for a position to the day a new employee starts. Depending on the job, it can take more than 80 days.

HR Director David Matthews wants the City Council to approve temporary staff to handle administrative tasks for hiring managers, “So they could facilitate scheduling the phone calls to the candidates, they can upload the documentation into our system, they can help screen candidates, prepare interview binders, schedule those interviews.”

He said adding support staff and making other changes will get the total process between 45 and 54 days. The time a candidate is involved in the process would go from 45 days to between 15 and 27 days.

In fall 2021, some departments began using a dedicated recruiter model. Earlier this month, Matthews told a council subcommittee how it’s paying off.

“We have nearly doubled the number of 911 operator positions we have hired for using this dedicated recruiter in the police department. For the water services department, we’ve seen a 44% decrease in the time to fill vacant positions," Matthews said. 

Last year, after Phoenix announced plans to increase pay $3 an hour for solid waste equipment operators with commercial driver's licenses, the vacancy rate dropped from 23% to 11%. Lack of staff has led to employees working six days a week and delayed bulk trash pickup for many areas across the city.

City leaders previously approved hiring and retention bonuses and the HR department recommends an employee referral incentive be offered citywide. Last June, the City Council voted to make Phoenix police the highest paid in Arizona

Phoenix has about 14,000 employees. In December, the city’s overall vacancy rate was 20%. A citywide compensation study is underway and results are expected to be released before summer. 

BusinessLaw Enforcement