Improved Processes and Engaged Employees
Last year we brought you a case study on a comprehensive audit we conducted for the HR department of a major East Coast public library system. The purpose of the audit was to identify and clarify the work and roles of HR within the Library; to establish a baseline for future improvement; and to standardize practices across branches and the central library. In that article, published in our September 2010 newsletter, we talked about our process, some of our recommendations and some unforeseen outcomes. This month we’re happy to bring you up to speed on the current situation at the Library 2 years after the audit.
According to the Chief Business Officer who heads up the library’s operations, the biggest success of the audit has been the HR staff’s awareness staff of how they were being perceived and a conscious effort by them to consistently deliver excellent service. As a result of the audit, HR staff now have an organized approach for prioritizing areas of concern and for dealing with them so that issues are no longer falling through the cracks or being left unaddressed. Two years on, HR staff regularly receive written and verbal compliments on their excellent customer service. Service delivery and turnaround time for requested information have dramatically improved.
Another gap identified during the audit was in HR’s use of technology. At the time, almost all HR processes were paper-based. Working in close partnership with the library’s technology group, the HR department is now 95% paperless. The online application process, for instance, has helped streamline the recruiting process, and, along with other recruitment process streamlining efforts, has reduced the hiring turnaround time by 4 to 5 weeks per hire.
Another outcome from the audit was the creation of a training manager position to oversee staff development. This position has since been filled and has created strategic coordination between HR and library-specific webinars, vendors, and trainings on topics such as youth development, customer service, and provision of on-line sexual harassment and diversity training. Lunch-and-learn trainings given by HR staff have also been widely successful.
But most important, especially in this economic environment, is the fact that the library has been able to almost eliminate their training budget by having a training manager who is able to develop and implement training programs in-house. For further cost savings, the library now also coordinates with their local government’s workforce development training administration for access to free courses.
We are now preparing to conduct a formal evaluation of the HR audit process and assess how processes have improved and staff are more engaged. But looking back, one thing the Chief Business Officer says he would have done differently is to have focused on more specific HR staff training sooner. Staff were previously hired to be more specialist in nature, and more cross-training in the areas outside of their respective specialties has helped them be more responsive to their customers. Also, documenting the changes in the processes sooner would have made it easier for HR to communicate with all employees and let them know how things had changed and improved.
Overall, according to the Chief Business Officer, “Our department would not be where it is today without the assistance of the Singer Group in this audit. They did an outstanding job with revamping our HR department and providing a road map for continued improvement.”