Name: Bruce Gardner
Title: Human Resources Director
Company: Town of Queen Creek
Years with city: 2.5
Years in current position: 2.5
Year incorporated: 1989
Employees in AZ: 230
Employees in HR department: 5
Explosive growth was the norm not so long ago in Arizona, but there probably weren’t many people wondering about its impact on human resources departments at city halls around the state. Even after the recession took hold, cities and towns had to continue serving new residents and businesses, and they had to have staff to do that.
In 2008, the Town of Queen Creek created and absorbed two new departments for utilities and fire protection. Suddenly, Human Resources Director Bruce Gardner had to contend with more than 60 new employees, including 14 supervisors and managers. Gardner knew it was important to indoctrinate the new supervisory staff in the town’s leadership culture. To accomplish that goal, his department crafted in-house leadership training for those employees and 11 other prospective supervisors.
Topics covered in the supervisor training were comprehensive — communication, motivation and delegation, team building, equal employment opportunity, valuing and managing diversity, interviewing new hires, coaching and performance management, discipline and corrective actions, and leadership. In addition, several of the town’s department heads participate in Arizona State University’s certified public manager program.
Human resources also has created a progressive policy under which town employees take ownership of their training and professional development. Annually, each employee is responsible for writing a training-and-development outline. The town offers several options for accomplishing goals, including classes, seminars, conferences and town-sponsored training. All employees may take advantage of a customer-service initiative recently developed by Gardner that focuses on internal and external communication and teamwork.
In 2008, Gardner leveraged the power of technology to automate the town’s entire hiring and employment process. This has freed up his staff to devote more time to activities related to employee retention.
To improve the town’s competitiveness in the job market, Gardner recently implemented a middle-ground salary structure that allows the town to attract and retain exceptional talent without busting the budget.
Looking for a way to better balance the needs of its employees and its constituents, the town implemented a four-day work week. Extended hours Monday through Thursday offer more flexibility to those who need to conduct business with the town. Fridays off give employees extra hours to take care of personal business and have more family time.
With the health of the town’s employees in mind, Gardner is launching free wellness and fitness programs that offer biometric testing, health-related seminars and “lunch-and-learn” sessions with various agencies. When a new, full-service fitness center opened, an agreement was negotiated to offer reduced rates to the town’s employees and their families. The town also hosts a large-scale wellness fair that features health care providers, onsite medical testing and health-and-wellness vendors and speakers. Also, mobile onsite mammography services come to town hall annually.
With the four-day work week and a variety of wellness opportunities available to employees, the Town of Queen Creek has improved productivity, reduced absenteeism and increased utilization of preventive-health services.