Most City of Eagan services are provided by people. In fact, 85% of the City’s annual budget goes to funding the people who make our community work, including those who fix and plow our streets, provide public safety, maintain our parks, facilitate our events, and plan our community’s future.
Yet Eagan is facing the same challenges that many corporations, nonprofits, and public organizations are experiencing — that is, recruiting and retaining employees, and, more specifically, a workforce that reflects the community we serve.
Our city, region, and state are changing. More people from a wide variety of backgrounds make up our community. Today, over one-third of Eagan adult residents identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), and 46% percent of children in Eagan are BIPOC. This diversity brings new opportunities.
In the next few years and decades, it will be important to think about how our changing community will affect our services and how we provide those services. As a City, it’s our goal to offer every resident access to top-notch services and programs. And as an employer, we must ensure that we hire the people who can help us provide these programs and services.
“As a service provider, not having the people we need,” says Jesse Swenson, Eagan’s Human Resources director, “is a threat to our organization’s mission to ensure that Eagan is a place where everyone can thrive. Over the past two years, we’ve been more intentional than ever in creating new pathways to careers in the City for people who haven’t traditionally been members of ‘Team Eagan.’ This includes enhancing our internships, seasonal hires, and Pathways to Policing program.”
Like many employers, Eagan is getting fewer applicants for certain positions. “We know if we continue to do only what we’ve done in the past, we won’t have the people we need to live up to our standards,” Swenson says. In public safety, for example, the City is receiving fewer applications for open positions — but that doesn’t mean a passion and talent for the work doesn’t exist.
With the Pathways program, the City brings people into police roles who wouldn’t normally have an obvious entry point. For example, one recently hired police officer had studied human resources, another has a master’s in mathematics, and a third, Kirsten Dorumsgaard, went to school for political science and global studies.
“The Pathways program gave me the opportunity to get into law enforcement, when I otherwise may have not considered it,” Dorumsgaard says. “When I saw the cadet job posting I was looking for a career change, and I immediately applied, knowing this was my way to help the community and hopefully make a difference. It felt like it was meant to be.”
BUILDING WORKFORCE FOR OUR FUTURE
Corporations, nonprofits, and public agencies continue to observe that employees’ diverse backgrounds and perspectives make organizations stronger. City efforts align with companies like Thomson Reuters and Blue Cross Blue Shield, which have also identified workforce diversification and retention as priorities to help accomplish their organizational missions, visions, and values.
The addition of new and emerging voices and abilities in staff can challenge previous approaches and improve programs, practices, and policies. That’s why our focus has shifted from seeking candidates who are a culture fit to those who are a culture add.
We are adding this perspective and lens to our recruitment, hiring, and retention processes.
WHAT’S A CULTURE ADD?
We aim to recruit and hire new qualified employees who bring unique skills and perspectives rather than perfectly matching existing team members.
In future editions of Experience Eagan, you’ll meet new staff, learn how they’ve come to work for the City, read about the value they find in public service, and understand how the City is opening doors and pathways for new people to join us in making an impact and serving our community. We’ll also share how we, as an organization, are challenging ourselves, and changing our internal practices to recruit, hire, and retain the team to best serve you and our community needs.
THIS EDITION’S FOCUS: SUMMER HIRES
Three hundred seasonal staff members join the City of Eagan each summer. Many are 15- to 17-year-olds working their first jobs. Last summer we piloted an intern program; this summer we’ll expand the program to seasonal staff, offering field trips to various City facilities and sharing the range of positions they might consider as they continue down their career paths.
Eight 2023 interns visited the water treatment facility, a fire station, and the central maintenance facility. “Whether they continue to work for the City of Eagan or use that expanded view of public service to find careers at other agencies, this inside view serves to show the workings of local government and where they might see themselves in the future,” Swenson says.
“Each summer we get the opportunity to show seasonal staff members the value they can have in their community, the impact they can have, and the career they can make by serving others,” she explains. “From the many wonderful stories of people who came into the City as interns or seasonal staff and grew in their careers, or those who made career transitions to join the City and make an impact, we know that those entry points are important. We are excited to keep building these pathways and welcoming the next generation of diverse voices to the City.”
City Administrator Dianne Miller’s first role with the City was as an intern, and she values what the experience sparked.
“Getting the opportunity to see the workings of an organization, the impact I could make on our community as a public servant, and the career I could have in the public sector had an immense and immediate impact on me and shaped my
plans and aspirations.”
“Today, as a community and public service leader, I want to make sure that the ladder of opportunities I was shown is presented not only to people who share my background and path, but a diversity of backgrounds, passions, and interests. And that’s the current focus for our Eagan team.”