By Dave Fidlin


Whitewater officials are in the final phases of revamping the current employee evaluation system and, in the process, tweaking how raises are handed out in the years ahead.

City Manager Cameron Clapper and Human Resources coordinator Judy Atkinson have been discussing the impending changes at recent Finance Committee meetings, including one held Nov. 27.

Clapper and Atkinson shared with the committee a draft of a new evaluation tool, which is designed to provide feedback throughout the year rather than in one fell swoop at a specific designated time.

The Common Council has been advocating for a merit-based pay system, which was discussed in recent months amid budget deliberations.

Clapper said the new proposed instrument — incorporating formal feedback and a two-way, measurable goal-setting process — builds off a prior evaluation system that was put in place in the past three to four years.

“That system has been in need of some updating, based on a learning curve,” Clapper said.

Although feedback is designed to take place throughout the year, there will still be a formal review process, punctuated by a robust scoring system.

Atkinson said the goal of the merit-based evaluation system is to provide a comprehensive review of an employee’s performance across all aspects of a particular job duty.

“There’s so many factors that an employee is rated on,” Atkinson said. “The spirit of this analysis … is to help make things better and more supportive for employees.”

Based on the proposal in motion, the final score an employee receives could determine whether an employee receives an increase and how much he or she would be privy.

In the proposal, Clapper said employees scoring at least a 3 — a numeric designation meaning baseline expectations have been met — would receive at least a 2 percent pay increase.

Employees scoring 3.5 to the top-level 4 could receive additional salary increases, based on a weighted calculation system in the works.

After running a series of test scenarios, Clapper said the maximum increase likely would result in a 2.11 percent salary increase.

During a big-picture discussion about how the new system could carry out, committee members were supportive but also expressed concerns that top-performing employees could be unintentionally penalized if they bump up to the top level of the threshold of a particular position.

The city is moving away from the so-called step system, Clapper said, which in past scenarios has resulted in salary increases as employees have moved from scale to the next, based on years of employment.

Council President Patrick Singer, who sits on the committee, said he also hoped the city would continue offering competitive wages to peer municipalities.

“There’s the merit piece, but it’s also important we’re paying market rate,” Singer said.

To that end, Clapper said further components are being introduced alongside the merit-based system.

Ultimately, Singer said he believed the plans in place will serve the city well.

“I think this is a good foundation,” Singer said. “I hope this moves us to a place that makes us a little more nimble.”


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