New Human Resource column to address employee issues

Note: This is the first in what will be a new monthly Transporter column by Chief Human Resource Officer Mary Harker. ITD Director Brian Ness announced the new column in a recent Direct from the Director. Columns will provide insight and valuable information related to employee relations.

By Mary Harker
Chief Human Resource Officer

Welcome to News from the CHRO’s first column. I am excited about the possibility to make this column useful and informative. It is my hope that the messages also will create a better understanding and a closer link between you and me.

My goal in this first column is to set the foundation for all articles that will follow by explaining how the HR function is shifting its role and emphasis within ITD.

As you know, the director has placed a stronger emphasis on human resources by making the function part of the Office of the Director. Private-sector organizations have done this for years, recognizing that people are an organization’s most important resource and asset, and recognizing that there are no decisions made at the executive level that do not affect employees.

So, what’s different about HR now than from what it was before here at ITD? And why did the name change long ago from “Personnel” to Human Resources?

The term “human resource management” (HRM) was first introduced in the 1950s to expand the focus of personnel management from its emphasis on traditional functions such as recruiting, selection, and pay and benefits. HRM introduced additional strategies to address the needs of increasingly complex organizations, the changing workforce, advanced technology and the external environment. An organization employing an HRM strategy:

  • Emphasizes the integration of its mission and future direction with the planning and management of its workforce;
  • Fosters a collaborative relationship between management and employees and encourages employee involvement, and
  • Addresses not only the development and motivation of individual employees but also the development of work units and the organization as a whole.

The current model used at ITD is best described as a Customer Service Model, which subscribes to the philosophy that HR staff should do what they do better and faster and to be more responsive to the needs of managers. It centers on improving accuracy and speed in processing personnel actions and taking a more positive attitude toward managers’ requests; helping them find creative ways to do things within the constraints of the merit system instead of simply saying “no.”

The overriding philosophy of strategic human resource management is that the mission of the department must be done, and must be done effectively. To carry out the mission, the department must be able to attract, retain, develop and motivate talented people. Strategic HR Management focuses on the reality that people are critical to mission success and that the fundamental approach to people management must be changed to assure that government has the capability to deliver its services as effectively and efficiently as possible.

The strategic model places HR in a viable and critical role in managing modern public organizations. This role is key to the effective and equitable functioning of public organizations. The employee dimension must be represented at the table, and I will do my best to carry that out.

I will present a different HR topic every month, but I want this to be useful to you, so I welcome any questions from you, or any requests to address a specific HR topic that is of interest to you.

Published 1-7-2011