This week is Local Government Week and Public Service Recognition Week. As I reflected on this week, I could only think about the dedicated LAGERS members that have been serving their communities for what seems like a lifetime. At every pre-retirement seminar, it seems like over half of the attendees have been at their employer for 25 or more years and there is at least a couple of folks that have been at their employer for 40 years or more. That is incredible! Let’s talk about the value of having an employee who dedicates her career to local service and how a pension plan, like LAGERS, can help incentivize an employee to stick around.
At a recent Annual Meeting, Rodney Bourne, the General Manager of Rolla Municipal Utilities, was asked about the importance of long term employees. His response was, “It takes a long time for our crews to learn specifically where the water mains and power lines are. But it’s not just about where the water and power lines are, its which ones are more prone to a main breakage, which lines need new poles or trees trimmed, which water mains need to be replaced in the near future. It takes a long time to develop the skills to work the water mains or power lines in an energized manner while also being safe and prompt.” He then goes on to explain the value of their pension benefit, “Providing modest retirement income to provide our citizens with the services they need, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”
Having experienced employees is incredibly important to the sustainability of an employer, especially local government. If a taxpayer demands superior service, the employees need to be dedicated and experienced. This requires that the employer take a long-term approach of recruiting and retaining quality employees. One of the most efficient ways to take a long term approach is through a defined benefit plan.
By design, a defined benefit retirement plan will attract quality employees to work at a particular employer. It does this simply based on the fact that the employer provides a pension. After that, the magic of the system kicks in. The employee continues to work for the employer and by design the employees defined benefit amount increases. The employee sees that the longer she works at the employer, the larger her benefit will be. So, the defined benefit retains this quality employee during her most productive years. Once she has worked her career at the employer, she is able to retire with a little dignity because her employer participated in a pension system like LAGERS. Not only that, but she has the security of knowing the benefit will always be there for her because her employer pre-funded the benefit during her working years. Once the employee retires, it then keeps the lines of promotion open and then attracts another quality employee.
So, a pension, like LAGERS, is certainly a driving force for employees to dedicate their career to their employer, but what amazes me about local government employees is they love to serve their communities. Not just because they have a pension, but because it truly gives them fulfillment. Karen Bailey from the City of Sikeston said, “We get to affect the lives of 20,000 people every day. We make the community safer. We make the community cleaner. It’s nice to be able to make that kind of impact.”
I think that says it perfectly.