The Salt Lake County Library’s Kearns branch on Feb. 26. Forbes magazine recognized Salt Lake County Library Services and Salt Lake County for the second year in a row as two of America’s Best-In-State Employers of 2021. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — Forbes magazine recognized Salt Lake County Library Services and Salt Lake County for the second year in a row as two of America’s Best-In-State Employers of 2021, ranking fourth and 12th respectively within the state.
The list came from anonymous surveys of 80,000 American businesses with at least 500 employees, conducted from October 2020 to June 2021, a time frame that included the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Survey participants shared their opinions on every aspect of the employee experience, including working conditions, salary, potential for growth and diversity. The data was then examined by Forbes and Statista in order to rank the businesses and created the final list of 1,330 employers among thousands across the country and 40 companies in the state of Utah.
“Salt Lake County Library employees are talented, purpose-driven, and committed to delivering impactful, meaningful services that help shape our communities. We are delighted to be recognized by Forbes for the work that we do day in and day out to deliver on our promise to make a positive difference in the lives of those we serve,” said Jim Cooper, director of Salt Lake County Library Services.
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said, “Salt Lake County is an exceptional agency with a talented and diverse workforce. I’m thrilled that as the second-largest governmental agency in the state, our work environment is being recognized at this level.”
Although Forbes didn’t offer much about what qualified Salt Lake County Library Services and Salt Lake County in particular for this achievement, communications director for Salt Lake County Chloe Morroni said that the biggest reasons were job security and adaptability. There wasn’t a single layoff among over 7,200 employees during the pandemic, when job loss and unemployment were at high levels across the country.
Instead, they matched volunteer employees like librarians and recreation center staff whose work was stagnated by the pandemic with temporary roles created to meet the needs of the county in COVID-19 response and recovery.
“Salt Lake County employees staffed quarantine and isolation centers, provided transportation for members of vulnerable populations, assisted small businesses in understanding reopening guidelines, sewed face masks for people throughout the state, just to name a few,” Morroni said.
There were 314 individuals redeployed between April 2020 through July 2021, not including those who helped with surge calls, those who took on COVID-19 response work during their day-to-day duties or the health department staff members who were redeployed within the department. Many of these employees filled more than one temporary position.
Salt Lake County also allowed for the flexibility of remote work, which was crucial during the pandemic to keep things running smoothly while also protecting the health, safety, financial stability and family responsibilities of workers when schools and child care facilities shut down.
“Mayor Wilson’s No. 1 priority during COVID was not to lose these people,” Morroni said. “It speaks volumes that in such uncertain times, employees said that they felt their jobs were safe.”