Council Approves Incentive Program

OCEAN CITY – Some Ocean City employees who go above and beyond could be seeing a little extra in their paychecks soon after resort officials this week approved a proposed two-pronged incentive program.

During recent strategic planning sessions, a top priority for the town was coming up with a salary incentive program to reward those employees who consistently go above and beyond, or who perform exceptionally on a specific task or project. The town has been faced with the same hiring and retention challenges experienced by other jurisdictions and the private sector.

To that end, Human Resources Director Katie Callan, coordinating with City Manager Terry McGean and various department heads, was tasked with creating an employee pay incentive program or programs that would reward employees for excellent performance. Callan presented two proposals to the Mayor and Council during Tuesday’s work session.

“I’m presenting two incentive programs,” she said. “The town does not have a merit-based pay system. There is currently no system to pay for performance. As it stands, increases are distributed in an across-the-board manner.”

Callan said the two incentive programs, if approved, could help with employee retention, improve morale and serve as a catalyst to motivate employees to do better.

“I think we can all agree there is tremendous competition for quality staff,” she said. “We’ve had challenges with morale and retention. Employees need to feel valued and rewarding current stars has the potential to motivate others to step up.”

The first incentive program includes SPOT Awards recommended to employees who show evidence of a significant contribution above normal expectations to a specific project or task. It would include a one-time bonus of $500 to $2,500 and could be accomplished over a relatively short period of time. SPOT Award recipients would only be eligible one time per year.

The second incentive program introduced on Tuesday was the Exceptional Achievement Award. It would be awarded to employees who show sustained, exceptional performance above and beyond normal expectations and would include an adjustment to a recipient’s base salary. An employee would only be eligible to receive the award three times during the course of his or her employment with the town.

The net fiscal impact for the town for both incentive programs would come to an estimated $33,000. Council Secretary Tony DeLuca praised the proposals and made a motion to approve them, a motion that passed unanimously by the council.

“This is a really nice job,” he said. “It encourages high performance and rewards outstanding performance.”

Councilman Mark Paddack asked if the incentives would be awarded based on ongoing employee evaluations.

“Who is getting evaluated and who is doing the evaluating?” he said. “I know on the public safety side they are evaluated at least two or three times a year.”

Callan explained her office and the department heads were going through the process of evaluating all employees.

“We’re at about 68% evaluated,” she said. “We still have some work to do, but we’re getting closer to having full inspections.”

Council President Matt James questioned if there were any stumbling blocks to reaching the full evaluations.
“We’re at 68% evaluated, excluding the police?” he said. “We can’t seem to get to 100%. Is there any reason why we couldn’t get to 100% by October 1?”

City Manager Terry McGean said each situation is a little different. In his case, because he has been in the city manager’s position for less than a year, he has not evaluated all of his staff.

“None of my staff has been evaluated because it hasn’t been a year and it wouldn’t be fair,” he said. “This is a decent solution. We already have evaluations going on.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.