Marathon County staff pay ‘significantly’ below market rate, HR firm says


Damakant Jayshi

Marathon County staff compensation is “significantly below market rates” and would need to increase salaries by 8% to 12% to realign with the market, a human resources firm conducting a study on the class pay.

The company, McGrath Human Resources Group, said at the meeting of the human resources, finance and real estate committee that it would need to be 5-6% above the market average to remain competitive, attract new employees and retain existing staff.

The county needs considerable adjustment and “so no one should be terribly shocked” when it sees significant shifts in pay scales, a McGrath HR Group representative told committee members in August. She was referring to the study report on remuneration which is in the process of being finalised.

The county has not adjusted its rate in the past 10 years, Halvorson Maes said.

McGrath and Marathon County staff make a presentation on the “revised pay schedule” to the HRFP committee and county council on Tuesday, County Administrator Lance Leonhard told Wausau Pilot & Review, adding that they are still working compiling information for presentation.

McGrath met with each of the department heads and the county administrator earlier this month to discuss their proposed schedule, Leonhard said. Their contribution will be part of the compensation recommendation.

The final report, which will include recommendations on adjusted compensation for each position in county government and the likely realignment of certain positions, is not expected until October, the firm said.

The county’s 2023 budget discussion will soon become more detailed. HRFPC chairman John Robinson urged McGrath representatives to provide at least a preliminary report so supervisors know what the costs will be if the adjustments are made.

The McGrath presentation compared Marathon County staff compensation with 20 other counties and 19 other comparable organizations, including the cities of Wausau and Eau Claire. Nine of these entities have launched or plan to conduct their own compensation study. The City of Wausau also hired a company to conduct a market wage study.

Slide from McGrath Human Resources Group presentation on Marathon County Staff Compensation Study, August 10

Halvorson Maes said the compensation ratio — a comparison of the county’s wage range and/or salaries with the “market” — needed to be adjusted. She said the average market rate is 50% and the acceptable clearing ratio range is 45% to 60, adding that they would like to see a clearing ratio of 50% or more. Sharing more details, she also said the county’s 81% hiring rate “is too far out of market competitiveness to be competitive at this point.”

Dr. Victoria McGrath, the company’s director of human resources, said she performed statistical analyzes around average compensation to weed out any organizations that were too high or too low compared to Marathon County compensation. She was responding to a question about whether cost of living differences with other counties might impact the compensation recommendation.

According to the Department of Employee Resources, Marathon County has approximately 780 regular employees and approximately 165 casual/seasonal/temporary employees.

Major Staff Turnover in Marathon County Government

Although there is a nationwide labor shortage, turnover in Marathon County is a particularly serious problem. According to documents shared by McGrath, a third of the county government workforce has been employed for less than four years and 45% of the current workforce has been in the county for less than four years in their positions. current.

The report said the county had “significant turnover,” Halvosorn Maes said. “That may not bode well for you in the long run because these are the people who are going to be trained and then they are going to leave,” she added. “So you’re going to become a training ground if you’re not already and that turnover has a real cost – financial and cultural cost to the organization.” The average seniority in the government sector is six and a half years, she said.

Leonhard said officials are still compiling information to show which departments or departments have been most affected by staff turnover, but the information is expected this week.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, more and more employees are looking for hybrid or remote work. Another study indicated that “flexible working conditions” was the third most popular reason for a job search, behind salary and better career opportunities.

Leonhard acknowledged that some of the turnover was likely caused by an employee’s desire for “hybrid work, workforce flexibility.” He told the HRFP committee that the administration is doing everything it can “to remove the reasons that sometimes cause people to leave organizations or the county.”


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