The Richland County 911 Communications/Dispatch is still struggling to hire and retain employees after months.

Richland County 911 dispatch is currently short two employees. Dispatch has had difficulty retaining employees, as many places across the country have. A high stress environment and more competitive pay elsewhere has created a shortage.

Richland County Commissioner Perry Miller invited Richland County 911 and Communications Manager Jill Breuer to the Wednesday, Oct. 6, commission meeting to discuss shift differentials.

The goal is to help attract and retain employees by paying them more when they have to work at times that may not be as desirable.

Breuer listed several examples of shift differentials at other dispatch locations around the state. Barnes County has a shift differential between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. during weekdays, she said.

“When I did some exit interviews with people in dispatch, one of the comments that was made to me was that we needed to look at shift differential pay, just because we should be competitive with some other people that do it all the time,” Richland County Commissioner Tim Campbell said.

The concern among commissioners with shift differentials, is that they would likely need to be applied to all departments who work hours outside of the typical 9-5, increasing costs for the county.

“Jill has been talking to me about the shift differential for the evening thing, and we were obviously concerned about it. Because it will roll down into other departments or could, I don’t know if one department can be singled out, it doesn’t really seem fair,” Miller said.

Breuer said shift differentials have already been factored into her budget for the coming year, which was already approved by the commission.

Other commissioners were concerned about how effective a shift differential would be.

“I’ll just say I can appreciate it. But one, what do we do with the other shifts and two I don’t think it will make a difference,” Richland County Commissioner Nathan Berseth said.

Another problem for Breuer is the roughly six months of training required for new hires until they are able to work on their own without her.

“I can’t take a break, I’m pretty much stuck in the room with her (a new hire) all the time. So that’s kind of what we go through for the six months,” Breuer said.

The commission decided to look into the solution of dual roles, where someone in dispatch would also work for a different department for increased pay.

Commissioners plan to speak to other counties about their implementation of dual roles.

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