Mayor Paul Ten Haken speaking to youth
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TenHaken to Share City’s Approach to Mentoring at June 22 Networking Lunch

  • June 14, 2021

With more than 1,300 employees, the city of Sioux Falls ranks among the largest employers in the community.

And the organization, like many, is striving to be an employer of choice.

“We need to be looking at culture and engagement in the same way the private sector does to stay competitive and also to be a role model in the community,” said Rana DeBoer, the chief culture officer for the city of Sioux Falls.

“Everyone wants to be a part of something that’s bigger than themselves; that’s what makes work great. Organizations with a positive workplace culture are shown to have engaged employees who feel respected and valued.”

A big key to that is mentoring. The city recently started an employee mentoring program called The Path focused on providing support for career and personal development.

“Our approach to this program will allow employees to learn from and support each other, and the program is wide-reaching,” Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

“For example, new employees will be matched with a mentor, newly promoted leaders will have the same from a peer mentor, and our leadership development programs always include a mentor match. We have seen a great response already from employees and are in the process of launching our first mentorship cohort.”

The hope is to instill a “mentoring mindset,” in the city’s culture, he said.

Mayor Paul Ten Haken speaking to youth

“It’s the right approach to communicating and collaborating effectively with our residents. And when that happens, we are able to best help create a high quality of life with our residents. So we just keep fostering it in our daily work while holding ourselves accountable to it through our core values and impactful programming like The Path.”

And the city is measuring its success, TenHaken said.

Employee engagement scores as tracked digitally have shown steady improvement and are at a high of 8.1 out of 10.

“We’ve also seen our nonretirement retention rate improve. We are right in the middle of some heavy work on recruitment and establishing our brand as an employer to find and hire the right people for the work of public service,” he said.

Mayor TenHaken will share a look at the city’s approach to mentoring, both internally and in the community, at the June 22 Recruitment Council Networking Lunch organized by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Washington Pavilion.

Workforce 101:  Learning How Mentoring Enables Talent Development and Retention is open to any business leader focused on workforce development.

“We’re very excited to welcome Mayor TenHaken and allow him to share more about the critical role mentoring plays as it relates to talent,” said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“The city is a national leader in this regard, and so much potential still exists.”

The mayor will detail his Sioux 52 Mentoring Initiative at the event, which he said offers myriad benefits for business leaders.

Mayor Paul Ten Haken speaks on Sioux 52 Mentoring Initiative

“We are actively asking companies to embrace mentoring and motivate employees to participate through benefits like paid volunteer time off, which we have modeled the way by implementing at the city,” he said.

“And we’ve seen a great response from the community in stepping forward to make this commitment.”

In 2020, more than 250 individuals signed up to mentor, 30 businesses signed on to be business partners who are creating a culture of mentoring in service to the community, and 27 organization that administer mentoring programs joined the Sioux 52 Mentoring Initiative movement.

“We look forward to continuing the momentum we’re seeing around mentorship, especially going into the fall, which is a kickoff to many mentorship programs,” he said.

The pandemic has further shown the importance of culture and how important the leader’s role is in that, DeBoer added.

“We’ve been increasing the role of our leaders to be good coaches and mentors to strengthen relationships and foster high levels of trust,” she said. “We’ve always had a focus on employee well-being and especially so this past year. We’ve fine-tuned our well-being offerings and are ramping up on mental, physical and community well-being. We need to take care of each other; public service is hard work, and it’s critical we take care of our people at the same intensity we take care of service performance.”