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County employee engagement fund OKed
Commission sees this as helping morale
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Believing it is important to keep Barton County employees involved in county operations while supporting staff morale, the County Commission Wednesday morning approved transferring money from the General Fund to the Barton County Employee Trust Fund.

“The county has traditionally provided certain funding to source employee engagement.” County Administrator Matt Patzner said. Typical practices have included a summer picnic, holiday party, beef bundles, jackets and retirement gifts.

“The Employee Relations Committee, being responsible for these and other activities, has been dissolved,” he said. It is suggested that the commission transfer $10,000 to be used for employee engagement.  

In addition, Human Resource Director Brenda Kaiser will be tasked with development of an Employee Engagement Committee.

“Some of the areas that we want them to focus on are employee morale, community service and employee input on benefits and certain policies,” he said. “We are envisioning a five-person board of interested employees that come to us and wants to be involved in this. And I think that’s the most important thing.”

Patzner said county officials feel it is important that they keep something promoting employee engagement in place to get their input. “I think it’s really important that it comes from them.”

Although major expenditures would require the commission’s blessing, this money is earmarked for use at the new committee’s discretion, Patzner said. 

“The nice thing about this is that each department wouldn’t have to have someone on it – it’s only interested employees that wouldn’t feel like it’s an obligation,” said District 2 Commissioner Barb Esfeld. 

“I think that’s the biggest thing,” Patzner said. “What we wanted to move away from was seeing this as some sort of burden or obligation. I think an active want to participate in this is going to be key for it being successful.”

Right now, it is in the early stages, he said. “We’re just focused on getting it funded and in finding those five interested employees.”

That core group would then decide how it wants to proceed and establish bylaws, Patzner said.

“I think it’s a good thing,” said commission Chairman Shawn Hutchinson, District 3, inviting interested county employees to take part. “It’s going be a great deal for everyone.”

“I think it’ll be exciting to get five excited people who work at Barton County, who think it’s a great place, and they can spread their enthusiasm,” said District 4 Commissioner Tricia Schlessiger.