November 6, 2019
Last January I wrote of our intentions at HBI to rebuild our HR unit. I thought it is important to update all of you on the progress we have made and the challenges that still remain.
As I mentioned initially, while HBI’s metrics with respect to hiring and turnover are better than the industry, both nationally and within the state, HBI still feels the strong effects of the workforce crisis. Individual homes go through staffing shortages, long hiring times, and significant management turnover. So HBI must get better at hiring and retention of our employees, and it must do even better at our human resources mission. We must hire more employees, keep those we hire, support them well, and keep them engaged. We must ensure that our processes are simple, effective and efficient.
So we began a significant effort at HBI–to rebuild our Human Resources Department. Then life intervened as it often does! Our Director of Human Resources, Deb Voigt, retired in the summer.
Deb worked for HBI for over 34 years! She did almost every job in operations/program and HR. I cannot begin to tell you how valuable she was to this organization and to the individuals who received services from it. She essentially gave over her entire career to us and we are blessed and the better for it.
I worked closely with her from the moment I came on board as the CEO in May of 2001. She was involved in almost every major decision I ever made and almost every action I ever took, and often made both better. I am in her debt and profoundly grateful.
So we began a search for a new Director and we put some pieces of HR Rebuild on hold while working on other parts. Jan Gunderson HR Associate, Martha Duclos HR Hiring Manager, Cassi Reissmann HR Recruiter, and Amy McLaughlin HR Assistant kept the unit going. Hiring through the first nine months of the year is way up.
This group improved HR’s listening to the rest of the organization, especially new ideas and acted on them. They began reaching out to the rest of the organization, talking to staff in informal ways and gathering information. When it called for action we made it happen.
One example: several staff asked for more information about HBI’s retirement plan, especially how to access it online. So we arranged for our vendor to come out, present on the plan to interested staff, then meet one-to-one afterwards with them to access and work the online site.
The group also made a shift in how HR approaches employee issues. Listening and seeking understanding became key priorities before making decisions.
More formal parts of the rebuild including structural design, an HR audit, an industry assessment and upgrading of policies and procedures await the start of the new Director, who comes on board in late November.