Work-Life Balance Pays Dividends in Coconino County, Arizona


The workforce: Coconino County is the second largest county in the US by area, with a population of 130,000 and 1,200 county employees.

Challenge: Budget cuts in fiscal year 2011 led to a reduction of 17 full-time equivalents (FTEs), although a hiring “frost” enacted in 2009 kept many positions vacant, so that all but one of the employees facing layoffs moved into open positions.

To retain employees despite an inability to offer salary increases, Coconino County’s Human Resources Department developed innovative and cost saving initiatives that emphasized employee work-life balance.

Strategies

Flexible work arrangements

  • Job sharing, phasing into retirement, and the ability to purchase up to 10 personal days a year.
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Telecommuting

Employee involvement

A county-wide employee committee helps develop recruitment and retention strategies. The committee has

  • attracted a large and diverse pool of applicants
  • reduced turnover
  • streamlined personnel policies
  • formed a pool of employees willing to work in other departments to decrease the use and cost of temporary employees
  • created teleconferencing options for employees who live in outlying areas and can no longer travel to meetings due to budget cuts.

An employee suggestion program resulted in internal candidates filling 40 percent of vacancies and a six percent decrease in turnover in two years. It has also engaged employees in finding ways to save money while maintaining services.

Employee Growth and Development

Employees at every stage of their career have access to training and education:

  • classes for new and experienced supervisors
  • leadership training for management level employees
  • free online training
  • cross training and developing internal talent to tap the knowledge and experience of employees near retirement
  • retirement planning classes

More

Coconino County was one of the 2011 recipients of the Center for Excellence’s Workforce Awards.

In March 2012, the county was selected for an American Psychological Association Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award.

Point of Contact

Allison Eckert
Human Resources Director
Coconino County
420 N. San Francisco Street
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
928-679-7102
aeckert@coconino.az.gov