The city currently holds 207 staff positions, not including council members and fire fighters. There are also a total of 71 vacant positions available within City Hall.
However, Hasan says when filling a vacant position, one must first go through options in which it would not require external hiring, as it’s said to be one of the most expensive measures.
“There are creative solutions how we can transfer some knowledge – some internal movement,” Hasan explained to council and staff. “So there are many things which we can plan to reduce external recruitment because external recruitment efforts can be costly and we need to have plans to have some internal succession and all that kind of stuff to fill those positions.”
Cost of external hiring isn’t the only factor backing Hasan’s rational, as he also points the strenuous recruitment efforts associated and the lost of productivity during an employee’s learning curve; resulting in reduced performance from the city, plenty of logged overtime and a strenuous impact on work/life balance.
As the city grows, so do vacancy rates, according to Hasan.
For example, in 2012, staff vacancy rates were at 20 per cent, compared to 35 per cent in 2014.
“We share this challenge with everybody in the community, all employers in the community; but that doesn’t say we just sit back and go ‘oh well that’s where we are’,” City Manager Dianne Hunter said. “…We are going to take a very proactive approach at looking at, as Rashid said ‘key performance indicators,’ and see if we can get this vacancy levels down to, I would like to see it well below the 25 per cent and see what we can do to achieve that.”
Hasan says a high vacancy rate equals a delay in service provisions – affecting all divisions including those that provide primary and support services.
Looking into the future, Hasan plans to develop an HR strategy for improvements to the work environment, process and system in an effort to mitigate the situation.
He also still plans on continuing to recruit and “meet the resourcing needs of the city,” while also supporting the efforts of council and staff to make the City of Fort St. John a ‘great place to work.’