Tag Archives: human resources department

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McDowell Sonoran Preserve to close early July

Fire danger prompts restrictions and increased patrols –

Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve will close at 3 p.m. on Thursday, July 4, to reduce the threat of wild fires during the Independence Day holiday. Summer temperatures dry out vegetation and create an extreme fire threat that can endanger lives, property and the Valley’s fragile desert. The availability and popularity of fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday increases that threat.

All trailheads into the 27,800-acre-acre preserve will have “closed” signs posted. Scottsdale police, staff and volunteer stewards will patrol the area to advise visitors about the closure and fire threat. Violating the closure is a Class 2 Misdemeanor punishable by up to four months in jail and a $750 fine.

The use of fireworks is prohibited in Scottsdale, but sales are permitted. Fireworks should not be used in Scottsdale – or anywhere near a natural desert environment.

“While the legislature mandated that firework sales are permitted throughout the state, our local ordinance prohibits the use of any type of consumer fireworks within city limits,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jim Ford. “Fireworks should not be used in Scottsdale – or anywhere near a natural desert environment.”

Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve encompasses the McDowell Mountains and large areas of the Sonoran Desert north of Dynamite Boulevard.

Visit www.scottsdaleaz.gov/fire.

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2009 HR Team Of The Year Finalists

American Express LogoCompany: American Express Service Center – Phoenix
Web: www.americanexpress.com

Company established: 1850 | No. of employees in AZ: 7,400
No. of employees in HR dept.: 17

The 17 professionals in the human resources department at American Express’ service center in Phoenix have had a busy year and met many challenges amidst difficult circumstances.

The team fulfills its responsibilities by following two philosophies. First, it approaches its work as a partner with the center’s 2,900 employees. Team members participate in business meetings, listen to customer calls with employees and keep in touch with everyone who works there. Second, it believes all team members are “in it together.” They share information, focus on the most important priorities and support each other as a cohesive group.

The year began with work force reductions at the center, but the human resources team was expected to ramp up in areas needing additional attention. As part of that effort, the team successfully convinced existing front-line employees to take a chance and move into different jobs, even as the recession ravaged the financial-services sector.

Significant attention also was devoted to leadership development within the center’s management ranks. The team developed a new team-new leader assimilation program that reduced the learning curve for new managers. Four team members who specialize in leadership development conducted focus groups to help managers understand the needs and expectations of the employees they lead.

In addition, American Express selected its Phoenix service center to pilot a global wellness strategy this year. More than 1,300 employees participated in a kick-off event and 90 percent of employees who took on a healthy-living challenge completed it. The HR team also hired a full-time wellness coach and nutritionist.


Arizona Public Service Co.Company: Arizona Public Service Co.
Web: www.aps.com

Company established: 1886 | No. of employees in AZ: 7,147
No. of employees in HR dept.: 85

To say that the human resources department at Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) is busy is a vast understatement. This team of 85 professionals has its hands full.

APS faces a staffing challenge at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station west of Phoenix. As operator of North America’s largest nuclear power plant, APS must deal with the fact that the majority of the employees there will near retirement age at the end of this decade. Human resources has launched an intense 18-month program to train college engineering recruits on the operation of highly technical aspects of the plant. Also, existing Palo Verde engineers are being groomed as mentors for the college graduates.

Human resources overhauled APS’ leadership development programs, as well. Few succession plans were in place for key leaders, and many emerging leaders were not receiving the breadth and depth of assignments they needed to progress to the next level. All existing leaders are given values-based training and new leaders receive basic training in supervisory skills. And, for the first time, APS’ middle managers have a program that enhances their skill sets and gives them feedback from peers. In addition, human resources is developing an emerging-leaders program.

Another duty for human resources was modernizing the company’s compensation model. It also has revamped compensation philosophy, moving APS away from cost-of-living pay increases to a performance-based merit system. Starting in 2010, APS will have an incentive program impacting 95 percent of its work force that will be tied directly to performance of the company and its employees.


St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical CenterCompany: St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center
Web: www.stjosephs-phx.org


Company established: 1895 | No. of employees in AZ: 5,000+
No. of employees in HR dept.: 26

The human resources team at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center played a significant role in helping the Phoenix hospital reach two milestones this year.

St. Joseph’s became the only hospital in Arizona to be recognized by BestCompaniesAZ as a best place to work for seven consecutive years. And for the first time, St. Joseph’s was named by Modern Healthcare as one of the industry’s top 100 best places to work nationally. BestCompaniesAZ administers best-places-to-work recognition programs in Arizona. Modern Healthcare is a national health care business news magazine.

Employee satisfaction may have something to do with St. Joseph’s open-door and two-way communication policies. Staff members have ample opportunities to ask questions and provide input. Each department holds daily employee meetings, with the hospital’s president hosting monthly employee forums. In addition, senior management conducts employee town halls throughout the year. To promote a work-life balance, the hospital offers telecommuting, flex hours, compressed work weeks, summer hours and job sharing.

The 25-member human resources team encourages diversity at St. Joseph’s. It partners with the Center for Transitional Rehab to integrate brain-injured patients into the hospital’s staff. The team partners with local and national job boards to reach out to ethnic groups and has developed programs to support a large Hispanic and Filipino work force. Disabled workers are encouraged to apply for employment or volunteer at the hospital.

Reaching out to the community, the human resources staff hosted five workshops this year to help the unemployed use alternative job-search tools such as Twitter and LinkedIn. gement, and employee relations. Its clients include startup companies and Fortune 50 firms.

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2009 Medium Business HR Director Of The Year Honoree

Bruce GardnerName: 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
www.queencreek.org

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.

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2009 Small Business HR Director Of The Year Honoree

Camille McCalebName: Camille McCaleb
Title: Vice President of Human Resources and Operations
Company: Creative Business Resources

Years with company: 4
Years in current position: 4
Company established: 1997
Employees in AZ: 25
Employees in HR department: 3
www.cbri.com


Progressive companies know there’s more to filling job openings than simply interviewing people and hiring warm bodies. At Creative Business Resources, Camille McCaleb has taken the lead in ensuring that new hires are a good fit for both the job and this Phoenix-based human resources outsourcing company.

As vice president of human resources and operations, McCaleb brought personality profiling into the hiring process and became certified in personality testing so she can analyze the results. The profiles show the natural tendencies of recruits and how they likely will interact with other employees and clients on a personal and professional level. This insight gives the human resources department an indication of whether a prospective hire will be successful at the company. Taking the process one step further, all Creative Business Resources employees review one another’s profile results to help them relate to each other in times of success and failure.

McCaleb implements additional measures to help new employees succeed. Before they are allowed to interact with clients, new hires go through three months of training that gives them the knowledge they need to start client relationships. In addition, the entire staff participates in extensive customer-service training during which service expectations are communicated. Each department sets goals aimed at helping to achieve overall company objectives. Departmental goals are posted around the office.

Under McCaleb’s steady hand, Creative Business Resources has taken steps to make employees’ lives easier. Two years ago, McCaleb and other executives made the decision to open a second office in west Phoenix. This eased employees’ commutes and increased productivity. New technology helps employees work at home, also increasing productivity.

McCaleb is credited with doing an outstanding job in the areas of employee relations and recognition. Time is set aside at each department and company meeting to recognize employees for personal triumphs, professional successes, company anniversaries and birthdays. McCaleb leads this outreach to employees to make them feel special and to motivate them to do an even better job. The human resources and risk management departments also publish monthly newsletters that keep staff and clients informed about happenings at the company and in its industry.

Employee achievements also are recognized with gift cards and spa days. Bonuses are handed out based on company profit for the year and successful job performance. The company also helps employees with a Christmas savings club. Employees who put $1,000 into the club receive $250 from the company in time for holiday shopping and travel. Thanksgiving and Christmas bonuses are given to all employees, as well.

Diversity is a key pillar of the business model at Creative Business Resources and McCaleb works diligently to blend this concept into the corporate culture and the manner in which the company conducts business with clients. To lead the way, the human resources and risk management departments are bilingual.

McCaleb also encourages employees to be active in the community. Employees volunteer for Project C.U.R.E, the Phoenix Rescue Mission and Special Olympics on a regular basis. In addition, Creative Business Resources gives employees a paid day off to volunteer.

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2009 Mega Business HR Director Of The Year Finalists

Brian BoylanName: Brian Boylan
Title: Senior Vice President of Human Resources
Company: JDA Software

Years with company: 4
Years in current position: 2.5
Company established: 1985
No. of employees in AZ: 360
No. of employees in HR department: 12
www.jda.com

Someone must be doing the right thing when a company’s own employees are its most effective tool for recruiting new talent. At JDA Software, that someone is Brian Boylan, senior vice president of human resources.

Boylan is praised for helping establish a culture at the Scottsdale-based technology company that allows employees to succeed professionally and earn recognition for their accomplishments through extensive award programs. Although JDA uses recruitment and assessment tools, ultimately job candidates who interview are impressed by JDA’s culture and the collaboration among its staff members. Employees feed the candidate pipeline by offering referrals for openings.
JDA’s culture is in part created by a performance-management program strongly supported by Boylan. The program emphasizes continuous learning plans, 20 hours of professional development annually and 360-degree reviews centered on leadership skills. Boylan also developed an emerging-leaders program that brings potential company leaders together for development and pairs them with senior-executive mentors.

Boylan and his staff understand that well-rounded employees need balance in their lives. Employees may work from home to take care of personal matters. The human resources department also offers FranklinCovey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People seminar to give employees the tools they need to find a balance between work and home. Onsite, JDA provides a wellness program, yoga and a Nintendo Wii game room.

Diversity is another hallmark of JDA’s culture. As a global company, JDA has a presence in many countries with varied cultures, all of which are reflected in the company’s workplace.


Tina HuffName: Tina Huff
Title: Executive Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development
Company: Pro’s Ranch Markets

Years with company: 3
Years in current position: 3
Company established: 1992
No. of employees in AZ: 1,945
No. of employees in HR department: 24
www.prosranch.com

As a growing upscale Hispanic grocery-store chain, Pro’s Ranch Markets takes extra steps to create diversity within its employee ranks and Tina Huff is deeply involved.

As executive director of human resources and organizational development for the Ontario, Calif.-based company, Huff works out of the regional office in Phoenix. Her department coordinates with several nonprofit agencies to provide work opportunities for refugees the organizations resettle in the United States. Huff’s department also offers jobs to Central and South American college students who work summers in the U.S. on visas. Onsite English-as-a-second-language classes are offered through Scottsdale Community College.

With more than 20 years of human resources management experience in several industries, Huff has a variety of responsibilities with Pro’s Ranch. This year, she directed development of the Ranchie Steps Program, which provides job-training modules and establishes compensation structures for each department companywide. This program shows how employees can grow professionally within Pro’s Ranch. In Arizona this year, Huff rolled out a retail management certificate program, tuition assistance, an apprenticeship training program for bakers and the ESL classes.

Pro’s Markets has been growing the past few years, opening two new stores in Arizona and expanding into Texas and New Mexico. Huff worked with the company’s operations and advertising departments to craft a plan for bringing in new staff. An internal talent assessment offers new employment opportunities for existing employees. Job candidates are recruited from local nonprofit and employment associations and through job fairs that attract as many as 5,000 people.

operational nightmare

Prevent An Operational Nightmare At Your Company

Imagine this scenario: Your business has superior processes and efficiencies in place for R&D. As long as payroll is made on time, sales are coming in and operations are otherwise running smoothly, you don’t question what is going on in your non-development related departments. Then, the person who’s been running your human resources department for 10 years leaves.

All of a sudden, claims are slipping through the cracks, payrolls are missed and there are major issues with your vendors. These are the very real problems that arise in businesses every day when they rely too much on the knowledge of their long-term employees and fail to transfer that knowledge into systems. In many companies, there always seems to be that one person in every department who has been there the longest and knows the most. But this knowledge does not last forever. Once this person leaves the company, you may have to start over in many ways — and that’s when time and money are lost.

You’ve likely gone to great lengths to implement processes with your development team so your products don’t fail. Now is the time to do the same with your other teams so your business doesn’t fail.

Hands-off the tactical work
For starters, you can outsource, locally, the operations that are imperative to running your business. Customer service and HR are two areas that are worth looking into, along with sales-lead generation, training and technical support. This doesn’t always mean you have to cut your own teams. Many times, companies find that the managers they already have in place running sales, support and HR, can be much more effective overall when the more mundane and automated tasks are outsourced. Pairing internal technological systems with outsourcing to companies that specialize in any one area not only can improve efficiencies, but also prevent disaster when the internal manager leaves. Companies that outsource their operations see many benefits, including:

  • More efficient operations that are automated and run seamlessly, no matter what’s going on inside the company.
  • Fewer missed deadlines, as results aren’t dependent on one person who may be the bottleneck, preventing operations from moving freely.
  • Better performance from employees who are freed up to work more on big-picture strategy.
  • Better team work and company culture, as there is less confusion over who handles which responsibilities.

Find the technology
It’s amazing how many companies are still using manual spreadsheets and logs to track things such as benefits, billing and sales leads. What good is your best salesperson’s lead-generation strategy, for instance, if it’s recorded on a document that only he or she can decipher? Your business needs visibility into how results are accomplished every day, in every department, so work doesn’t ever miss a beat.

So what technology solutions does your company need? CRM (customer relationship management)? Online time sheets? Benefits tracking? Start with those managers who are hoarding all that great knowledge. Ask them to research and implement solutions that will easily capture and communicate the processes they’re putting into action every day. The greatest benefit here is that once others have visibility into how your internal “experts” are working, they can learn from those experiences and improve their own performance. The expertise of your best players isn’t being put to full use if those who work alongside them aren’t learning from it. Additionally, if everything is being captured and shared correctly through these systems, then any new person should be able to step in and take over rather seamlessly.

If you do explore the outsourcing route, the vendors you use may also be able to point you to the best technologies available to help streamline the processes. For instance, your HR company should be able to help you find timesheets, reporting and other tracking systems that easily integrate into their own systems. Same with your lead generation company, which should be able to recommend the best CRM or CMS (content management system) for your business. This may seem like a tedious and expensive undertaking, but most companies find they save money and improve productivity (and their bottom line) greatly over time.

Hiring the best people to run your various operational needs is an important task for every company. But hiring the best expert you can find is only the first step. Do your business a favor for the long-term and make sure that expertise is shared and supported in a way that ensures smooth operations.