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Today's competitive environment requires that wastewater utilities operate in the most efficient manner possible. In an effort to transform a good governmental organization into a world class organization by any measure, Clean Water Services of Washington County, Oregon has been planning and implementing dramatic change at all levels of the organization for the past six years.

A number of factors contributed to Clean Water Services' interest in developing and implementing a competitive initiative, including potential competition from private business, the perceptions of its customers, market conditions, political considerations and technological change. Clean Water Services (the District) recognized the necessity to become more competitive and efficient, increase the quality of its services and differentiate itself as a teambased, customer-driven organization. Several elements were put in place to meet the competitive initiative including the typical business process reengineering and staff reductions, but in addition, the District developed and integrated a plan for its human resources systems, enabling it to optimize its most important asset—its employees.

Like many other wastewater/stormwater organizations, Clean Water Services shared the challenges not only of losing employees to the overwhelming changes but also to losing many of its seasoned and valuable employees to retirements. The District can no longer count on employees working to age 65 or beyond. The financial performance of the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) has allowed many employees to retire at 55 or with 30 years of service. This isn't all bad, however, since employee movement into and out of the organization provides for new ideas, experiences and perspectives. The challenge is to retain our best performers and to have a plan for high quality replacements should we lose them.

The answer to our dilemma was the development of a Human Resources Master Plan (HRMP). The overall result was a dynamic plan intended to ensure a smooth succession that would resemble a flow of events that occurs over time–like a well-run relay race. The succession plan had to be a graceful carefully strategized and well executed plan in order to be successful.

The District adopted a balanced approach to succession planning to fulfill our commitments to our employees and customers. The experience covered the following areas of Human Resources consideration:

Reexamining and Reinventing

Retaining the Best Resources & Reducing the Number of Non-performers

Retraining the Workforce

Responding to Employee Involvement

Recognizing and Rewarding Employees

Recruiting New Employees

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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