Minnehaha County stems high worker turnover with pay increases

Compensation bumps totaling 12% reduced the historic levels of employees quitting and make it easier to hire, human resource director said.


SIOUX FALLS — Minnehaha County's ability to retain workers is on an upward swing following a period of historically high turnover.

The turnover rate for county employees hit highs of about 30% early last year, ending the year at 18%. The first few months of 2023 are showing continued improvement and below 18%, said Carey Deaver, the county's human resources director.

Deaver credits salary adjustments made last April, which provided a 7% increase plus a cost-of-living bump of 5% in January. The county’s pay was lagging below similar government agencies and private businesses. Higher pay has been good for retention and made it easier to hire new workers, she said.

“It was very much needed,” she said in an interview with Sioux Falls Live, following a presentation to the Minnehaha County Commission this week.

The county currently employs 611 people.


Minnehaha County commissioners on Friday heard suggestions from the former director of the Nebraska State Fair and a company leader who works with venues around the country.

Commission chairperson Jean Bender said she thought the work by the human resources department and others to retain workers was “remarkable.”

Having to search and hire employees can have a “significant cost,” Deaver told the board.

Currently, 165 of employees - or 28% - have been with the county for a year or less. Another 15% have only been with the county for two to three years.

That means about 43% of county workers have been with the county for less than three years, Deaver said.

The county isn’t out of the woods, however. Deaver noted the numbers of applications are still down, with postings increasing compared to earlier years.

The $50 million facility will be built on the current site in southern Sioux Falls.

For 2022, she said there were an average of 39 applications per job posting, compared to 67 in 2018.

There were 74 job postings last year compared to 49 in 2018.

Besides the pay increases, Deaver said other moves to lower the turnover rate include improvements in employee costs for benefits, more social media use in searching for workers, participation in job fairs and retention bonuses for law enforcement and jail or correctional officers.


She said they would continue to work on most of those areas this year.

When reviewing exit interviews with outgoing employees, she said the biggest reasons for those leaving were for better pay and promotions.

“We support our employees if they find promotions,” Deaver said.

For one part-time job recently, an employee left because of daycare costs..

Deaver said they will continue tracking pay from other similar-sized government units in the region and hiring a consultant to do a market study, which also provides compensation in the private sector.

Deaver said there are 20 job postings currently, with several in the interview stage.

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