Good Morning Counties. This Is Your HR
This is a follow-up to a previous
HR Doctor article about the "Age of HR" (check it out at http://www.hrdr.net/).
Human Resource liabilities and
opportunities will define the success of public agencies well
past the next decade. The signs are very clear. Demographic
changes, including the emerging "senior-focused" America,
along with other needs in an increasingly diverse nation,
clearly point to the need for a more proactive and innovative
answer to keeping up with needs in the criminal justice, human
services, health care, community planning, finance, general
administration - indeed, every public service -
rests in having a committed, trained and accountable staff.
Even the explosion of e-government services over the Internet
does not preclude the need for great staff members, even
though it will change the way those staff members do their
prepared are counties for the challenges to attract and retain
a great workforce? How prepared are we as public
administrators to anticipate and prevent liabilities to seize
on and develop positive opportunities? "Not very well" is the
answer suggested by a recent survey conducted by NACos
Financial Services Center. More than 600 smaller counties
(populations under 50,000) were invited to participate and
nearly 23 percent responded. The results are important to help
elected and appointed officials ask insightful questions, plan
for the future and take immediate action.
Seventy-eight percent of the
counties report not having a formal HR training program. Half
of the counties responding report that little or no HR
training - formal or otherwise - is available to
managers and supervisors. Fifty-five percent report their
counties have been the subject of lawsuits or EEO complaints.
Eighty-one percent report not having a 24/7 source of advice
or help in responding to HR problems. Finally, over 35 percent
report candidly that the county does not manage its
human-resource issues well.
That situation is far out of sync
with the current and coming needs of public agencies.
Responsible officials must address these needs with at least
the same gusto with which other serious organizational needs
are met. The process begins with recognition. Without strong
proactive HR practices, no service will work well. Sheriffs
deputies, engineers, accountants, firefighters and those in a
thousand other typical county job classifications, as well as
their managers, need the confidence and support which comes
with HR innovation. The best counties prepare for the future
and act on the preparations! This applies to HR as much as it
applies to security and community planning.
After recognition comes action. A
majority of survey respondents want training help! Forty-nine
percent want coaching of managers and supervisors to control
liabilities. Help with policy development, with diagnosing HR
weakness, and business planning for improvement is also part
of the improvement recipe.
Support for acute problem solving
(what the HR Doctor calls "the HR ER") is also high on the
list of needs, as are security advice and assistance and help
with classification and pay issues. The needs list goes on but
the clear message transcends any one particular
message for counties is to prepare now for better HR
management, not after the plaintiffs attorneys have already
found parking spaces in the county lot. One county which
recently lost a "hostile work environment" case was ordered to
pay an award equal to about one-third of its annual
budget - from one case. Take direct organizational
responsibility for improving HR - an increasingly
compelling imperative in a modern government.
Heres to the fun of being "HR
proactive" in a world where some organizations appear to be in
a persistent vegetative state!