County employee survey results has leadership looking for ways forward

Thursday, August 26, 2021
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At the beginning of 2021, Stillwater County’s human resource software program generated an anonymous employee survey structured to help identify the local government’s strengths and weaknesses as an employer.

Questions were centered around whether or not employees would recommend working for the county based on factors such as work atmosphere, leadership, communication, pay, benefits and culture.

Forty-one employees responded to that first survey. Three months later, 36 employees responded to a second survey. It was the third survey that has caused commotion in the courthouse.

Out of a total of 107 county employees (including part-timers), 46 responded to the third survey.

More than half of the respondents — 56.52 percent — reported negative comments. Of those, 61.5 percent were specific criticism of the county’s leadership, namely the Stillwater County commissioners.

The News filed a formal Freedom of Information request in order to obtain the results from the third survey.


Of the 46 county employees who responded, 15 offered very positive comments regarding hours, pay, benefits and in general, people at the courthouse.

Four comments were basically neutral and talked about things such tweaking what’s in place to make the county run even better and benefits for part-time employees. Ten were negative comments about pay, benefits, professionalism, favoritism and human resource issues (human resource issues consisted of eight of the those 10 comments).

Sixteen comments list specific criticisms of county leadership — specifically, of the three Stillwater County Commissioners. Some comments included the following:

•“Our current Board of Commissioners need to figure out how to work as a team”

• “Lack of cohesive leadership”

• “Commissioners need to present a united front”

• “Quit asking the same questions through this app and get out and have conversations with your employees”

• “Nothing happened after the last two surveys”

Commissioners Mark Crago, Tyrel Hamilton and Steve Riveland told the News this week that while they look for ways to address what they called “constructive criticism” in the survey, there would not be any further surveys sent out to employees

The three also offered the following joint statement:

“As the leadership team for the county, we take the comments submitted through the survey seriously. A healthy board of leaders may not always agree on every subject but can still work together to render decisions that are for the good of the county. We will continue to work through the constructive comments received and take the necessary steps to make Stillwater County a better workplace. It is every department’s job to serve the public to the best of our ability and we want to make sure our employees have the tools and support they need to do just that.”