Steadily climbing staff turnover has raised eyebrows at Moyne Shire, with council chief executive officer Brett Davis saying work was needed to arrest the exodus.
The issue was raised by councillor James Purcell at the monthly meeting this week, based on figures printed in a government-mandated council performance review.
"One of the issues we have raised before, and I think it's important we raise again, is the workforce turnover," Cr Purcell said.
"It's grown from 12 per cent to 17 per cent to 25 per cent, and if we extrapolate this six months it goes to over 30 per cent."
The report calculated turnover for each financial year as the number of staff resignations divided by the total number of staff.
In the 2019-20 financial year, when the COVID-19 pandemic started, turnover was just 12.6 per cent of staff, but by the 2021-22 financial year it had doubled to 25 per cent.
In the final six months of 2022 more than 15 per cent of staff had resigned, in an apparent sign turnover was continuing to rise.
Cr Purcell said staff retention was an issue many organisations were grappling with, but he wanted the chief executive's insights into the situation at Moyne.
Mr Davis said staff turnover was a major problem for local government, and had been highlighted in a new report from the Victorian Auditor-General's Office (VAGO).
"(The VAGO report) notes that from 2018-19 to 2021-22 (turnover has) risen from 14 per cent to 20 per cent across the board, and ... the large shire average is looking at about 22 per cent," Mr Davis said.
Moyne is categorised as a large shire, but even by those standards its staff turnover had gone from being below average pre-pandemic, to comfortably above average in 2022. Community and corporate services director David Rae said the staff losses went across all council departments.
"There is no one department or area within council which has been affected - it has been across the board and the sector in general is experiencing high staff turnover," he said.
"At Moyne, a number of planned retirements and ageing workforce have contributed to the higher figure. COVID has also changed people's mindsets and they are reviewing their lifestyle options which is also having an impact."
All those factors have been evident at the council's executive level, with two directors and the chief executive leaving since late-2021 for a combination of age and lifestyle reasons. It has meant that of the four-person executive team not one has been in their role for 18 months.
Mr Davis said that kind of turnover had a disruptive effect.
"Staff turnover affects our ability to prepare performance reports and financial statements and the like and VAGO has recently come back with a number of queries on some of the financial reporting going on and some of it was attributed to that," he said.
The VAGO report specifically said turnover was damaging because every staff member who walked out the door took with them a certain amount of corporate knowledge. Compounding that was the fact resources would have to be put into replacing that employee and training the replacement.
Mr Davis said more resources and effort needed to go into staff retention.
"(Turnover) is clearly trending one way at this stage and we will continue monitoring that and try to invest in staff development and opportunities for progression and other pathways," he said.
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