Compensation Study Helps Guide City Staff

Santa Monica City Hall.

Santa Monica City Council approved a Compensation Philosophy for City of Santa Monica staff, Tuesday, July 24, during a regular City Council Meeting.

According to the City, council implemented a key recommendation of the Moss Adams independent review of staff compensation.

Santa Monica City Hall.

“The philosophy aligns total compensation with the organization’s overall mission and goals to guide future policies and practices. The approach calls out the factors to be weighed in establishing, administering and modifying the compensation system for City staff, including fiscal sustainability and recruiting and retaining a high caliber workforce,” City staff said.

“This Compensation Philosophy represents longtime best practices undertaken by the City and includes clear guiding principles aligned with citywide goals,” said Mayor Ted Winterer. “It ties our commitment to competitive compensation to peer cities and to delivering the highest standards of service to the community. Adoption of the Compensation Philosophy is the first step in crystalizing the compensation review recommendations. The expeditious and unanimous adoption of the philosophy fortifies Council’s commitment to proactive and transparent fiscal management.”

A Compensation Philosophy is not a specific policy and is designed to capture the philosophy of the City as an “employer of choice” in the 21st Century that also has a responsibility to its citizens to be fiscally responsible and transparent, City staff said.

The philosophy states “we are committed to promoting organizational and community values that include: exceptional service to the public; consistent and excellent performance; innovation; good fiscal, social, and environmental stewardship; and ethical behavior.”

The new guiding principles state, “The compensation program should aim to retain and attract high-skilled, high-performing staff capable of delivering the highest standards of public service to our community. The City will expect all staff to consistently perform to those high standards in their work performance, service, ethics and passion for public service. The City will also strive to administer pay and benefits in a way that is fair and transparent to all, that provides equal pay for equal work, and that does not take into consideration race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or other factors unrelated to work performance.”

This is the first action item that has been completed of the 13 recommendations identified in the employee compensation study conducted by the independent firm Moss Adams. The study is the most comprehensive ever undertaken by a Southern California city.

The compensation philosophy was distributed among the City’s eleven labor unions in its draft form and calls for evaluation every five years. Other public entities with compensation philosophies include San Luis Obispo and the County of Sonoma.