Tyler Public Library evaluates how to address part time employee turnover

 

The Tyler Public Library has a turnover problem, likely created by part-time employees unable to move up to full-time.

Overall, the library has an 18 percent turnover rate, said Circulation Supervisor Ashley Taylor. But, it loses an average of eight part-time employees a year.

Ms. Taylor completed a project to evaluate how much the facility is loosing a year to employee turnover and ways to correct it.

The library has seen its turnover rate increase since 2008, when several positions were eliminated or split into part-time. The problem has occurred for eight years.

A staff survey regarding turnover, completed earlier this year as part of the project, showed the main reason for staff looking for other employment is due to the absence of full-time positions or advancement opportunities.

The part-time turnover costs the library $45,312 per year, including hard costs like paying for drug tests and overtime to cover gaps, as well as soft costs including staff time to train new employees.

Most of the employees, even part-timers, are required to have a bachelor's degree, except for the circulation department and for custodians.

"A pay analysis is much heeded," Ms. Taylor said. "You have professionally-degreed employees working part time with no benefits."

The single highest turnover is in the custodial services. In 2010, the city cut the two full-time positions down to three 19-hour-a-week part-time positions. Ms. Taylor calculates the turnover in that department is 67 percent, adding the department has gone through 11 employees in five years.

In that department, the average number of years retained in .82 years for part-timers and 16 years for full-time employees.

In circulation, nine out of the 12 employees are part time. The turnover rate is 42 percent there, with the average stay at 2.5 years for part time and 12.6 years for full time.

"A lot of people in the circulation department are retirees or students working while going to college," Ms. Taylor said.

In access, or the records department, eight of the nine employees are part time. That department has a 22 percent turnover rate, according to Ms. Taylor's analysis.

The resource department is 86 percent full-time staffed and maintains the lowest turnover rate, with less than 1 percent.

Ms. Taylor's findings also show the staffing levels in the city are below Texas State Library Standards.

Those standards for Tyler's population include 27 full-time employees and eight librarians with master's degrees. Tyler currently has 24 full-time employees and four librarians.

To correct the staffing levels, Ms. Taylor suggests adding eight employees. Those could be added in phases.

She suggests combining the part-time custodians back into two full-time positions, combining positions to add a full-time person in circulation, combining positions in the access department to create two positions, plus adding two full-time librarians and a full-time outreach specialist.

The outreach specialist would be responsible for reaching out to groups in the community who could use the resources at the library, but do not live geographically close.

The goal would be to help Smith County combat its 13 percent illiteracy rate.

The cost of adding the eight new positions would be nearly $280,000 above what is currently budgeted for staffing at the Library.

Ms. Taylor said she is working on implementation plans and will present those to a city budget review board in January to see if the positions can be funded.

This week, the Tyler Public Library Advisory Board approved writing a letter of support for Ms. Taylor's findings and for the proposed changes.

Twitter: @TMTFaith

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Faith Harper is an East Texas native working for her hometown newspaper. She specializes in digital content for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In her spare time, she loves tacos, road trips and is currently learning to sail.