HSVPOA Public Services Director Ken Unger believes in making Hot Springs Village a place where employees don’t just have a job but can advance down a well-defined career path. Unger has been putting processes in place to maximize the success of employees and the Village.

Unger has developed a multi-faceted plan called “Year of Operations,” where all levels of departments under his purview are organized to promote success, both for the Village and the Village employees. His plan not only gives employees an organized work environment where optimal success can be achieved but offers rewards for excellence in work performance. Let’s start by discussing the organization and overhaul of the Public Services Department.

Year of Operations

In a nutshell, “Year of Operations” is a many-sided approach in which all Public Service Departments are organized by level: The areas of focus are:

  1. Documenting all of the Public Service processes.
  2. Building Standard Operating Manuals for the plants, which include:
    • Safety
    • Operations (how things are done)
  3. Providing training for staff on safety and operations.
  4. Obtaining the necessary tools and equipment so we can self-perform a lot of the projects that, in the past, we have paid outside contractors to complete.
    • A good example of this is that recently there was a deep break in a sewer line. Previously, we were unable to repair deep sewer breaks. Contracting someone to repair the recent deep break would have cost around $21,000. Instead of hiring someone else to execute the repair, we purchased the proper trench boxes for $16,000. (See images below.) We did this repair and now have the in-house equipment to repair sewer breaks up to 10′ or 11′ feet deep. Previously we could not make sewer repairs on anything below 4′ or 5′ deep. The employees participated in trench safety and combined space training to use the trench box. This move will save us tens of thousands of dollars on future projects.
    • When staff is encouraged and allowed to expand their knowledge, this gives them a sense of accomplishment. The staff becomes more self-proficient at doing things, which is also good for the organization.
  5. Career pathing and recognition of outstanding service – Unger said, “It is important to develop our people.” The training on safety and operations is part of that. “But importantly, we want a good career path for people.”

Unger said, “When I came into the organization, some people had been here thirty years. Some people were brand new, and the seasoned employee and the new hire had the same job title. I have experienced that people who have been someplace for a long time like to be recognized for their experience, at least through their title, if nothing else. We didn’t have that. We didn’t have a career path for people. You were either line maintenance, a building person, or the superintendent,” explained Unger. There were no acknowledged job levels between the starting positions and supervisors.

Unger continued, “Now we are putting in place a career path for our people. I am doing this across every organization under me.”

“Part of our problem is retention. We have a hard time retaining people here, and I think partially, that is because of that lack of career path. People want a career; they don’t want just a job. I want to give people the ability to have a career at the POA. Having a career path for employees helps build morale, increases employee retention, and recognizes people for their experience.”

Recognizing You

Unger recently introduced an employee recognition plan called “Recognizing You.” This is a program that anyone in the organization can nominate anyone else. “Recognizing You” is focused on Unger’s credo, which he instituted when he started working for the POA.

The Hot Springs Village Public Services Organization Credo states:

  • “We have work because our customers trust us to do the right thing.”
  • “We focus outward on the customer, not inward.”
  • “We know teamwork enables us to serve our customers better and faster.”
  • “We believe integrity is at the core of who we are.”

The Public Services Director said, “‘Recognizing You’ is a program based on employees nominating other employees who have done things consistent with our credo and acknowledging the nominated workers. ‘Recognizing You’ is also used to recognize people who have come up with ideas or done things more efficiently, saving the POA a lot of money now and in the future.”

“We want people to develop ideas like Superintendent Todd Noles did with his approach to lake dredging. Noles solution has saved us a ton of money,” explained Unger.

Employees who receive the “Recognizing You” award will receive a Certificate of Excellence, a Coin of Excellence (see cover image), and a monetary award which will generally be a gift card or a bonus. Unger stated that he has already given out “Recognizing You” awards in the past week.

Join the Staff

The POA team has the honor of offering property owners in Hot Springs Village high-quality services in a genuine, competent, and innovative way. Hot Springs Village is ideal for living, working, and playing because of its welcoming, active environment and first-rate amenities. If this concept interests you, click here to view your career options with Hot Springs Village POA.

“Year of Operations” and the reward system of “Recognizing You” is a win-win for everyone!

By Cheryl Dowden; Photography by Joe Dowden

Cover Image: Two sides of the same coin – “Coin of Excellence”

Public Service Credo was Instituted When Director Unger Came on board the POA


Ken Unger
Director Public Services
Hot Springs Village

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