KYLE, Texas (KXAN) - When Kyle City Manager Lanny Lambert took the reigns of Kyle's staff and operations two years ago, he said his top priority was customer service.
He also soon realized that money was tight, staffing was short and any improvements would have to be done without counting on adding either money or staff.
"City government is all about providing our residents, businesses and visitors quality customer service," said Lambert. "Over my 34 years as a city manger, I've also learned that the key to quality customer service is to be sure that your employees providing the service are taken care of and are having their needs addressed."
In order to meet the necessity of awarding employees despite a strict budget, Lambert began considering more flexible work schedules for city employees after he noticed that the Parks and Recreation, Public Works and Police departments had already adopted them in order to address various working conditions.
So the Lamber and his staff worked to come up with a program to allow flexibility to other staff areas while at the same time improving customer service. The result was expanded hours at City Hall and schedule options for the staff.
"One size doesn't fit all," said Lambert, "The real trick is putting together a plan that addresses the needs of all of the employees, as much as is possible. I was inspired by what I saw in Kyle and wanted to drive flexibility down to the line employee level, and I think it has been a huge success."
The first step, said Lambert, was to provide flexibility to line staff employees who are necessary for the business function and customer service function of the city on a day-to-day basis by changing working hours to 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and working half days on Friday.
This strategy not only allowed extended hours before and after the work day at city hall for citizens who had business to tend to, but it also granted an amount of flexibility to the front line hourly employee that typically has very little discretion in their work schedule.
"The flexible schedule that we have is wonderful, it allows time on Fridays to run errands and even go have lunch with my son at school. I am motivated and eager to work harder. My customers seem to love it too," said Clarissa Guerrero, a utility billing clerk who has worked with the city for five years.
Over the past four years the city has expanded the flexibility that it used to only give to management employees in order to meet the needs of the younger generation of employees taking leadership roles. With a quickly growing city, its management team is comprised mostly of younger employees.
To this end, the city has tried to meet the needs of its predominant younger management team by providing constant technology connectivity to critical city operations, allowing mobile office space and allowing managers some flexibility regarding their own schedules, comp time for leave, and allowing flex time for the many late night meetings they are required to attend weekly.
An example of how this practice as been successful can be found with Kyle's Director of Human Resources, Sandra Duran. Recently, Duran was offered a position at the University of Texas, but after considering the University's less flexible work environment she decided to stay with Kyle.
"I've been offered other employment since joining the city of Kyle, which I have declined," said Mrs. Duran. "The city of Kyle has embraced my desire for a flexible work environment, allowing me to be there for my family and it is worth a lot to me."
Lambert says that since implementing the new work hours, he's seen increased morality and productivity among the city's employees.
"The risk of not being progressive is that we stand to lose our best employees to bigger organizations and the private sector," said Lambert. "Fast growing organizations live Kyle need to retain a vast amount of institutional knowledge that is best held by our long term employees. You want your best people in place when you are making decisions and plans today that will affect this community for the next 50 years."
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