Respect (Employer of the 21st Century)

What is a good employer? An excellent one? One that deserves your respect? Ramsey County Board Manager Paul Kirkwold introduced the vision of the model employer at the 9/26/00 Board meeting. It appeared to be a matter of routine, but as the presentation unfolded it became clearer that what the Board puts in motion now will impact the quality of the County workforce for decades to come.

Kirkwold's goal is to have Ramsey County become one of the top ten employers in the State. The first step to accomplishing this is to eliminate "racial harassment" and to develop a work environment that is inviting, safe and rewarding for people of diversity and color as well as for the present work force which, admittedly, is mostly white.

With an unemployment rate of just 2%, the competition for new worker recruitment among employers will be fierce. According to Kirkwold, close to 25% of the population in Ramsey County is minority. "The percentage of minorities in the St. Paul School District, is getting close to 70%. Looking at all the school districts in Ramsey County, the number of minorities in the St. Paul School District is equal to the total student population of all the suburban schools." If steps are not made to make the culture in Ramsey County a place where people want to work, we are limiting half of the labor force. That is something that we need to think of in a business sense, an economic basis, an unemployment basis and on a cultural basis, of how we are going to be a model employer."

The definition of Model Employer is still evolving. Eliminating "racial harassment" is a key first step to developing a work culture that will attract new workers and keep the old. A nonviolent work place is already a part of Ramsey County's thinking (see RRR Nov/Dec 1999). Educational and promotional opportunities will for sure be part of the overall model.

In this day and age, and for the foreseeable future, the challenge for any employer is to recruit and keep talented workers. Kirkwold believes that the first step to take in becoming a model employer is developing a workplace culture that attracts new workers and offering existing workers an environment that allows for balance between work and home life. He believes that within 3 to 5 years Ramsey County will be the place that everyone wants to work. Throughout the courthouse and County work sites, you will see lapel pins on employees that incorporate the County logo with the word, "Respect." This is a banner that reminds county workers of the ongoing goal of becoming a Model Employer. As stated in the Board resolution of 10/3/00a policy will be developed which will ensure the County is a respectful workplace for its employees, customers and clients.

Good luck to Kirkwold in this major endeavor.

Rettman Report (March/April 2001)
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Author: Commissioner Rettman's Office / Information Services