An item on the agenda for the Oro Valley Town Council would eliminate a long-standing employee advisory board and replace it with a similar organization.

At the Wednesday, Nov. 17 meeting, council members plan to discuss the changes that would dissolve the employee known as Advisory Board of Oro Valley Employee (ABOVE) in favor of the renamed Employee Innovations Team.

The mission of the new organization would be to identify workplace problems and issues, and develop strategies to create a better work environment.

“This group will be presented with ideas and issues that address employee work-life as well as operational challenges or needs related to budget and finance, technology, processes, and services that require systematic and innovative solutions,” according to a draft proposal for the Employee Innovations Team.

The central organizer would be a so-called “First Look Team” made up of seven volunteers selected by the town manager and executive management team. Smaller groups, or “squads,” would take up specific tasks in the new organization.

The First Look Team would have the authority to approve or deny squad proposals.

Squads with names like “Geek Squad” would work on technology related issues. The “Money Bags Squad” would deal with budget questions. A “Mardi Gras Squad” would plan employee celebrations or fundraisers.

A department director would be appointed to advise the group and another assigned for each squad.

Squads also would be formed at the request of the First Look Team or at the recommendation of the town manager. Their membership would be made up of a supervisory level employee, a mid-level manager and a non-supervisor or management employee.

“It’s a very fluid kind of process,” said Oro Valley Town Manager Jerene Watson.

Watson authored much of the changes. She said the ABOVE group hadn’t ever worked as well as envisioned and employees rarely participated.

With the proposed change, Watson envisions an employee organization that manages issues and challenges as they emerge. The commitment from individual employees could be as brief as a squad taking on a single problem or working in long-term strategies.

Watson said her office would have little involvement or oversight in the new organization.

“I don’t like the top down approach,” she said.

Employees involved with the innovations team would be required to complete leadership training provided by the town human resources department.

The most significant change from the ABOVE employee group, involves the town council.

Under existing personnel policies, a subcommittee of three council members preside over an annual employee forum. At the forums, employees were encouraged to bring up their concerns or discuss with the council issues such as compensation and benefits.

The current proposal would eliminate the annual forum.

The proposal under consideration for Wednesday, written by Human Resources Director Betty Dickens, calls the annual employee forum a “conundrum” and a “challenge.”

“The council, by our code, does not have any authority over personnel issues,” Watson said.

Another area of change would be an annual employee satisfaction survey. Town employees would provide anonymous feedback to the manager on issues they deem important or areas in need of improvement.

The Oro Valley Town Council meets on the first and third Wednesday of the month. Meetings start at 6 p.m. in Oro Valley Town Hall, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive.

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