JoCo on the Go Podcast: Public Service Recognition Week (Come work with us!)

On JoCo on the Go, episode #135, we celebrate Public Service Recognition Week by talking about all of the great reasons to choose a public service career with Johnson County Government! There is truly something for everyone here, and you’ll learn about the jobs we currently have open and how you can apply. You’ll also hear about the culture, the benefits, the values and more reasons to come work for us! Learn more at


Look for JoCo on the Go where you regularly listen to podcasts.


Time Subject
00:30 Introduction
01:30 What does it mean to have a career in public service?
03:10 Recruiting people for jobs in public service
05:38 What are the pay and benefits like in public service?
10:09 The workplace culture at Johnson County Government
11:46 Building a diverse workplace
15:03 What kind of jobs are open now at Johnson County Government?
17:13 Why consider a job in public service?



Careers at Johnson County Government


Jody Hanson 00:00

The first week of May is Public Service Recognition Week. What are the culture and benefits like for employees who have chosen a public service career Johnson county government? And for what positions are we currently recruiting? Our team of experts will answer those questions and more

Announcer 00:16

Whether you live in or just love Johnson County Kansas, JoCo on the Go has everything Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.

Jody Hanson 00:30

Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go. I'm your host Jody Hanson, a Johnson County resident and employee of Johnson County government. Approximately 3600 people currently and 1000s more before them have chosen public service careers with Johnson County Government. The first week of May is Public Service Recognition Week, and it's the perfect time to give you a peek behind the curtain as to what it is like to serve the public as a Johnson County government employee. We'll also share some of the jobs we currently need to fill and how you can apply. Today I'm joined by Kendra Neal Wright and Corrine Espinoza from our human resources department. We also have with us Cameron Ahrens, who is our benefits and wellness manager. Thanks to all of you for joining me today. Let's start with a question for all of you. You've all as I have chosen a career in public service, what does it mean for you to have a job where you serve the community and local government, as opposed to working in the corporate world or another sector?

Kendra Neal Wright 01:30

Jody, I can start. I came from the corporate world not that long ago. And there's definitely a deeper sense of purpose when working for the county. Every day you can reflect on your how your actions make your own community better. And so that's just a great feeling to have and definitely, keeps you engaged in your work.

Corinne Espinoza 01:52

For me, it's kind of a no brainer, we have so many different positions here and such a wide variety that you really will have the opportunity to do the work that you love and are passionate about in the public sector. But not only is it going to reward you and your family like any other job would, but you also get that full circle of being able to have an impact on your direct community neighbors. And so it just really makes it better.

Cameron Ahrens 02:17

Well, with me I'm kind of a little unique in that we're considered a central resource department. So we really actually serve our employees. But it is a pleasure to provide the great benefits that we offer to such well deserving employees that have chosen to be so active with their community. It also though, because Johnson County is an important employer in the metropolitan area, we have privileges or have the ability to participate in a lot of community related organizations, focus groups. In fact, I serve as the chairman for the board of directors for the Mid America Coalition for Health Care that I probably wouldn't have been asked to do had I not been working for Johnson County. So creates a lot more avenues and options to work within the community.

Jody Hanson 03:10

I think those are all great answers. And it just feels good to serve. I know many of us could be doing the same kind of work in other places. And it just feels good knowing that we're contributing to our community. So thanks for sharing all that. Kendra, as the county's talent and diversity specialist, can you tell us what it is like to recruit public servants for this organization?

Kendra Neal Wright 03:33

This is certainly a challenging job market. And many workers don't realize the great variation of roles that we have at the county. So one day, we could be looking for an emergency medical services leader, the next day, a museum director, and the day after that, a landscape architect. So, you know, when recruiting, you really have the opportunity to learn about various industries and professions, but focusing on the things that tie us all together, like the county's values, you know, some of our values are being a caring workplace, a learning organization and seeking continuous improvement, you know, as well as the aspects of our culture that are so rewarding, and the numerous ways we support employees is ultimately what's going to draw people here to work and what keeps them here. So those are the big unifying factors.

Jody Hanson 04:32

And I love what you were saying at the beginning and talking about kind of the diversity of positions I you know, it's hard to think of a job that we don't offer here, there's just so many different things you can do to work for the county. Corinne, when you work with our various departments to recruit, are you looking for certain characteristics in applicants outside the technical skills or the experience or the know how?

Corinne Espinoza 04:58

Yes, absolutely. Johnson County has worked hard and identified a set of values that we hold every day throughout the organization. It's what brings us all together as one organization. These behavioral values are integrity, professionalism, humility, humor and respect. When speaking with the candidates, these are all in the forefront of every hiring manager’s mind. And they really have the opportunity to set you apart. The ideal candidate embodies these values, as well as our operational values that include being a caring workplace, stewardship, teamwork, continuous improvement and remaining a learning organization. So if you can show that you have these values, it's really gonna make you stand out.

Jody Hanson 05:38

Yeah, I see those qualities often when I'm meeting different colleagues or, you know, across the organization, and passion and dedication, it's just it is, it is a great place to work. So speaking of a great place to work, something that people are always interested in when they're looking for a job, I would think are the benefits. So, Cameron, can you give us kind of an overview of the benefits and the wellness programs that we offer to our employees?

Cameron Ahrens 06:07

How much time do you have? No, I'm kidding. The county offers so many great benefits, I'd really, it's very hard to describe in a limited amount of time. We do have a jocogov website where people can access and look at I look at our benefits. And you will be very impressed. They are top of the line, very exceptional benefits. But we do offer a couple of medical plans that people have to choose from dental vision, we have very generous leave plans. A lot of employers don't have family medical leave, caregiver leave, we have liberal vacation, sick time paid holidays, I could go on and on. But we also have a deferred compensation program where people can set aside money for their retirement and the county, actually, actually matches that. In addition, many of the benefits are highly subsidized through your employment with the county, meaning the county will pay a large portion of those benefits anywhere from 90% of the medical 80% of dental, free vision and short term disability long term disability and then there's always the Kansas employee public retirement system that you will be a member of, we also strive to make sure that our employees are able to be experienced the well being that they need. So we have full coverage 100% coverage for preventative care. We allow you fitness credits, so you have access to fitness classes, fitness memberships, so you can stay healthy and productive. So I, again, I could go on and on. But that's just kind of a brief overview.

Jody Hanson 07:54

Well, I am one of those employees that participates in the wellness program and having access to different fitness options. I really enjoyed that as a benefit. So I would imagine, Cameron, that you're a specialist in employee benefits, not just our organization, but that you kind of know what's going on in the metro area. So how would you say that the benefits that we offer employees compared to other employer, other employers in the Kansas City area?

Cameron Ahrens 08:21

Well, the County is committed to be an employer of choice. So in doing so, in addition to your regular compensation, the county places a high priority on very well compensated benefits. So if you look at other public sector, we are definitely in the top tier. And actually, even when you compare it to private employers, we would definitely rank in the top tier throughout the metropolitan area.

Jody Hanson 08:51

That's great to know. So Corinne, along with benefits, some people might be wondering about pay, I would think that that's also something that people look at when they're exploring job options. So how would you say the pay for working a public service job here compares to in a corporate setting? You know, what can you tell us about how competitive our pay is at Johnson County government?

Corinne Espinoza 09:16

Well, first off, it's great. We do recognize that our staff is the very heart of our organization and all the services so hard to provide, attracting, retaining and rewarding the staff is a top priority. So we are constantly conducting analysis of the external market. And we do that analysis. It is both public and private sector so you're not getting left behind in either group. We ensure that we stay competitive across the board. Also, our total rewards program, kind of what Cameron was mentioning there, it's not just a competitive base salary. Also, when you combine that with our benefits coverage, all the different avenues for paid time off and the retirement contributions and plans and other things that we offer here, and it really is impressive. And it does, you know, put our money where our mouth is and demonstrating how highly we regard our staff.

Jody Hanson 10:09

That's good to know. Thank you. So Kendra, as you know, pay and benefits are important, you know, when someone is considering applying for a job, but just as equally important is the culture of a workplace. So how would you describe the culture at Johnson County government?

Kendra Neal Wright 10:28

Well as you can hear here today, as we all talk, our culture is values driven. And you know, one of our values of being a caring workplace really means caring for the community, but also caring for each other. And so I appreciate when the county offers the flexibility in terms of flex schedules, working from home, or the hybrid models that we are seeing around the county, even having additional support to handle family responsibilities, through caregiver and parental leave. I know I appreciated that when having my son while at this organization. And I realized those things are not offered everywhere. We also call ourselves a learning organization. So there are many opportunities for growth and development through learning and training programs that are that are actually fun and engaging and on the in on the job training as well. And so lastly, I would say that we value innovation. So regardless of title and level, you are encouraged to speak up and say, hey, I have this idea for how things might work better. And in my experience, those ideas have been explored. And so that really goes a long way to communicate how you're valued.

Jody Hanson 11:46

I love that part that you were just talking about. You know, we say often that leadership is really expected from everybody. It doesn't matter where you are on the org chart for your department for your team for the organization, we are all expected to be innovative and encouraged to bring ideas to the forefront. So Kendra, you've got the word diversity in your job title, talent and diversity specialists. So what I'd like to know from you is what role do you think diversity plays in our workforce and maybe talk about some of the programs or efforts that have been made to really make this a workplace where everybody feels comfortable, to grow and succeed and to come every day?

Kendra Neal Wright 12:30

Absolutely. So to answer the first part of the question, there are significant advantages to prioritizing not just diversity, but equity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace. A diverse workforce brings a variety of wide perspectives, experiences, skills, together to solve problems. And so that means there are better opportunities for creativity, and innovation. There's smarter decision making overall. And there's increased productivity. And so employees feel better supported in inclusive environments. And so they also tend to stay in organizations longer, which reduces employee turnover. And so overall, diverse teams have often have a higher morale. Because the environments that they're working in, acknowledge their individual strengths, and, and the potential that they can bring. And so just a wealth of richness that we all gain, and I could go on and on. But at the county, we call our efforts to be a more inclusive workplace VIBE. And so VIBE stands for Voices of Inclusion, Belonging and Equity. And so VIBE is also meant to embody the definition of the word vibe, which means basically an atmosphere of a place as communicated to or felt by others. And so what we hope is that what is communicated to and felt by others about Johnson County is an environment where people feel they matter, feel invited to contribute and have access to the support that they need. And so you know, how we try to uplift the vibe across the county is, through constantly examining our processes to improve fairness and fight biased decision making. We equip our managers with training on various topics. And we workshop with teams around the county about inclusive practices. We offer a VIBE webinar series that's open to all staff, and it's called Learning Labs. And one of our biggest mobilizers is our employee task force called the VIBE advisory team. And they're made up of staff of all different backgrounds and seniority and departments. And so they focus on how to continuously improve our work environment as well. And so we're just getting started and so we just keep exploring ways To bring us all together.

Jody Hanson 15:03

Well, you're just getting started. But I feel like that team has accomplished quite a bit, I have the pleasure of working with that team. And I've learned so much from you. So thank you for sharing all that. So I'm gonna assume by now people are watching or listening and think, wow, that's a great organization to work for. I can't wait to apply. So Corinne, tell us please, what kind of jobs are we needing to fill right now and then also talk about how somebody can apply?

Corinne Espinoza 15:26

Well, happy to. And so I think one of the themes here is that we have a wide variety of jobs. And so if you love it, we probably have it for you. I know that right now, we are currently recruiting for very exciting openings. We've got paramedics and EMTs. We've got some sheriff's deputies. In our mental health centers, we have positions open for support professionals, clinicians, case managers, and our correctional facilities. We are looking for correctional advisors, youth correctional advisors. You also have our Wastewater and Public Works departments who are looking for great crew members. And then our libraries, many different libraries are looking for clerks and information specialists in their branches. And then finally, our pools are about to open. So we are putting our feelers out for some lifeguards. And if any of those sounds good, please go to And along the sidebar, you're gonna see it says positions open to the public, you have to click on that link. Obviously, they change all the time. I know these, these are out there, but there are so many more, so please just go check it out. Also, on that website, before you click on the positions open to a public, there is an abundance of resources there, please take your time and explore. There are things you can learn about our benefits, there is a cool little tool called the total rewards calculator. If you just put some numbers in and play around a little bit, you can really get a feel of how robust our benefits are, and put some dollars behind the words and see, you know, what are we providing. So also, there's some application resources, all kinds of stuff out there to make your application process and really give you an idea of what we offer.

Jody Hanson 17:13

That section of our website sounds like a very valuable place for people to go if they're if they're interested. We, you know, we heard a lot today about all of the great reasons to work for our organization. So just wanted to end with a question for all of you again. So let's say there's someone out there that's listening, maybe they're considering a career switch to public service. What would you say to help convince them that, that a public service career is at least worth exploring?

Kendra Neal Wright 17:46

I can go first, I would say that this is a way to build your community while you're building your career. And so really, there's so much opportunity your talent doesn't go under utilized. And then on the side of building your community, it's you're making an authentic difference, right, the things you do show up where you live. And so there's nothing quite like that. You have to come here to experience that.

Cameron Ahrens 18:16

I will even comment to that there are a lot of different ways that the county will encourage you to grow as a person. Again, because we have so many benefits, I overlooked the fact that we have an education reimbursement program. We actually have student loan advice opportunities. HR has many training programs, always encouraging employees to improve and expand their knowledge and their leadership role. So there are just a lot of opportunities for a person to grow within Johnson County and use many of the resources to continue their path, career path to whatever they desire.

Corinne Espinoza 18:59

I agree, I'll just say a second, all of that. I would say there really isn't a downside. We have, you know, all the pluses, the variety, the competitive pay stand out benefits. The work environments here, I would argue are second to none. But you know, ultimately you have that other segment of having this fulfilling experience to serve and to give back to all the locals. So definitely recommend.

Jody Hanson 19:27

Well, I just want to thank all of you so much. I feel like we gave people a great picture of what it is like to work here and also talked about some of the jobs that are available. And as we talked about earlier, our website is a great resource. So I would encourage people to go to and look for the careers button in the upper right hand corner. Lots of great information on our benefits, our culture, and links to open jobs. So Corinne and Cameron and Kendra, thank you so much for being here. Everybody have a great rest of your day.

Announcer 20:03

You just heard JoCo on the Go. Join us next time for more everything Johnson County. Have a topic you want to discuss? We want to hear from you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at JoCoGov. For more on this podcast visit Thanks for listening.

County Manager's Office