Learn to Improve



Mayor’s recommended budget includes funding for “Employees’ University,” an avenue to greater professional development 

The FY17 budget Mayor Biskupski has recommended to the City Council includes a $50,000 request for tuition. Not for college, exactly. But certainly for higher education — in the form of funding for “Employees’ University,” a professional development program tailored to those who keep Salt Lake City running at is best every day.

Human Resources Department Director Julio Garcia is sold on the idea—well known in professional HR circles as the “corporate university model” and used successfully for decades by Blue Chip firms Disney, Apple, and McDonald’s, to name a few. Julio, in fact, spearheaded a successful employees’ university program as Salt Lake County’s Human Resources Director before joining Salt Lake City in January 2016. And Mayor Biskupski singled out the program as a top HR priority in her 2016 State of the City Address.

“Julio’s commitment to employee professional development was a key factor in my decision to appoint him,” Mayor Biskupski said. “He values people who choose municipal service as a career. His management style is innovative and fully supportive of their advancement.”

If approved, the program will feature online and instructor-led courses ranging from primers on emotional intelligence to more technical lessons on positive management skills, a supervisor boot camp, and issues of workplace harassment.

“We want employees in Salt Lake City to be excited about coming to work, to be engaged,” Julio said. “There is a big difference between a merely satisfied employee and a truly engaged employee.”

In addition to the online coursework, the program will keep track of who has taken training and when.

“Historically, the city has required various kinds of employee training, but we haven’t tracked it. So every three years, for instance, people have been required to take harassment training but we haven’t kept a record of it.”

That can lead to skepticism about the worth of employee education, Julio explained. As in, if no one cares enough to track the process, what does it really matter? Keeping track fosters accountability and professionalism among team members, he said.

Provided the City Council adopts the budget request for the program, the first step will be to survey city employees through a questionnaire about the kinds of courses they would like. Employees’ University will also have a board of directors made up of city employees.


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