A compensation philosophy has gone into effect for the City of Joplin and the city’s employees. This compensation philosophy was created with means of acting as a framework for maintaining a competitive market compensation program.
This philosophy was passed by the Joplin City Council at their January 4 meeting of this year. The team that worked to put together the philosophy included 10 city employees from various departments and levels of status, including Nick Edwards, city manager, Jimmy Furgerson, fire chief, and Leslie Haas, finance director.
“What that means to me is we have now this kind of consensus on where we want to go or the things we need to do with our compensation program,” Edwards said. “So, for me—practically speaking—what I think that means is looking at the documents prior to budget development, reviewing it as we look at resources and we identify resources that we’re able to address pay with those resources with the way it’s laid out in the philosophy. …”
As the compensation philosophy is meant to be used as a guide for salary and other pay-related aspects for city employees, the philosophy also states, “A competitive market compensation program is essential to attract, retain and motivate qualified employees.”
“As Nick mentioned, it’ll be a big piece as we move into the budget, but also relating to the market study it sets forth that we need to update the market study at least every two years,” Haas said. “So, it provides that framework for making sure that our compensation stays current and updated, as far as moving through the steps and looking at the local and regional market, as well as looking at those individual jobs.”
Joplin’s compensation philosophy comes in following the compensation study conducted in the city in fall 2020. The philosophy addresses this and states, “Another step in improving and maintaining overall market compensation for City employees is to develop and adopt a Compensation Philosophy.”
“So, the compensation study was kind of that first step, and so it gave us an assessment of how the City of Joplin how our pay stacked up to local and regional cities,” Edwards said. “And so, the city was behind, and as Chief said, this philosophy will help us over time correct and probably stay out of that problem we found ourselves in 2018.”
Edwards said the philosophy is “live now” and it is already in the works of providing “direction” for city compensation efforts. It is hoped that this compensation philosophy will allow the City of Joplin to stay competitive with surrounding cities in regards to pay. For Edwards, this philosophy means something specific.
“The real reason, for me selfishly, is to avoid a difficult scenario that the city found itself in 2018 where the city had fallen behind, and fallen behind, and fallen behind, and needed to do this big Herculean effort to make everything right,” Edwards said. “Hopefully, with this compensation philosophy and everybody agreeing or on-board or with this consensus that’ll allow us to prioritize resources and maybe keep pace with changes in compensation instead of falling behind.”
The compensation philosophy was made with city employees in mind, as Furgerson said the philosophy benefits the employees in different ways. He said it addresses employee compensation from salary to benefits, “the whole package.”
“… The city expects us to provide quality service, we want quality employees to deliver that service, so we hope this compensation philosophy will help attract and retain those quality employees so we make sure we’re delivering quality services to the citizens of Joplin,” Furgerson said.
Furgerson said that creating the philosophy was a “great process” and that the team had “fantastic discussions.”
“In a nutshell it boils down to this: it lays a framework or a guide, if you will,” Furgerson said. “Given that the city has resources, this is how we want to address those compensation issues moving forward. So, it talks about maintaining our salary plan, moving through the salary plan, benefits, the whole package. But it really is just a guide or a framework, and it is also very contingent on having those available resources to address those issues.”