The COVID-19 pandemic compelled sweeping adjustments all through Santa Barbara County authorities, some that improved providers for the general public and eased the roles of county employees, whereas others elevated strain and workloads for workers, in keeping with feedback from division heads in latest price range workshops.
Its impact on human resources is among the most far-reaching as a result of it impacts each division’s skill to rent and retain workers, and it’s the root of many adjustments that have been instituted, might be continued and are but to return.
“Post-pandemic consequences have without end modified our workforce, and the county just isn’t exempt,” stated Maria Elena De Guevara, director of the county’s Human Sources Division.
She stated post-pandemic fatigue is among the many components driving the so-called “Nice Resignation,” and workers’ and job-seekers’ expectations of the office have modified, creating what she known as a “candidate-driven market.”
Job seekers might be on the lookout for improved advantages, a give attention to their well-being, significant efforts at variety, fairness and inclusion, office flexibility and related and accessible know-how.
She stated the accelerated use of know-how and digital instruments improved worker communication, decision-making and the circulation of data, but it surely additionally decreased dependence on hierarchy and forms.
That elevated use of latest applied sciences and employees demand for it should require upscaling the coaching required for workers.
“So from right here on out, this coaching … or constructing the digital literacy of our workforce, will turn into an organizational duty,” De Guevara stated.
Whereas county departments skilled lots of the identical points, others had distinctive impacts to take care of.
The checklist of impacts by division is in depth. However among the many many adjustments, teleworking elevated dramatically — 92% of the Auditor-Controller’s Workplace employees telecommuted, for instance — though some departments just like the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Workplace and the Planning and Improvement Division remained open.
Social Companies Division had a couple of half-dozen workers who have been telecommuting when the pandemic hit. Six weeks later, that quantity jumped to greater than 170.
Over the previous 12 months, 274 division staffers have performed some work remotely.
However the division’s lobbies additionally have been reconfigured to supply non-public, COVID-safe areas the place employees might meet with purchasers who most popular in-person contact.
The county and its departments obtained tens of millions in federal COVID-19 help funds that helped cowl further providers and elevated prices, allowed infrastructure enhancements and offered help to residents and companies.
However that additionally added to the workload within the Auditor-Controller’s Workplace, which needed to observe the advanced American Rescue Plan Act accounting guidelines for COVID-19 reduction funds.
The pandemic additionally resulted in state-level impacts that, in flip, had an impact on county departments just like the Clerk-Recorder-Assessor’s and Elections Workplace — spawning Meeting invoice 37 that modified among the necessities for vote-by-mail elections
“You realize, our principal impression with COVID-19 was for the assessor,” stated Joe Holland, clerk-recorder-assessor and registrar of voters. “We needed to have employees go off-site, as many departments did, however most of our actual property recordsdata are nonetheless paper-based.
“So we weren’t in a position to do lots on-line,” he stated, including his workplace is beginning a challenge to digitally scan all of its property recordsdata.
His workplace additionally skilled a considerably sudden pandemic impact: The demand for marriage providers jumped greater than 50%. Holland attributed that to different counties having restricted sources.
“COVID during the last 12 months has been fairly the PR machine for Behavioral Well being Companies, which has additionally introduced with it some key challenges and rising points for us, together with the truth that our demand for … providers has been rising whereas on the identical time we’re having an growing scarcity in [the] workforce,” stated Toni Navarro, division director.
At present, the division is within the strategy of migrating on-line the steadiness of 160 providers that may be offered just about.
Navarro stated the division obtained $3.8 million in grant funds that may fund a 3rd of its requested employees enhance, and ARPA funds paid for a survey of COVID-19’s impression on residents’ psychological well being.
Whereas the survey of 5,000 people discovered a 42% decline in psychological well being, she stated the Psychiatric Well being Facility served fewer folks and the decision middle took fewer calls.
Navarro stated that might be attributable to “COVID burnout” and other people “hitting this new degree of regular … about what constitutes a disaster.”
Wendy Sims-Moten, govt director of First 5, stated the pandemic highlighted fairness points for kids from start to five years previous and impacted at-risk households, particularly relating to little one care.
“I believe the pandemic has proven the necessity to reinforce our security web [to help] these with much less alternative recuperate,” stated County Government Officer Mona Miyasato.