In every organization, public or private, there are things that “just happen” that the employees often take for granted. Perhaps there is no better example of this than the Human Resources Department.
At the Will County Health Department, the trio of Stacey Whitehead, Christina Salazar, and Louise Keane keep things up-to-date every day.
Human Resources at the Will County Health department actually has a triple crown of responsibilities when it comes to who they serve. There are current employees; but there are also prospective employees seeking information and past employees who need certain records forwarded. It is also important to note that Whitehead, Salazar, and Keane are all quite versatile at what they can do. Instead of focusing on one area, all three of them are generalists dealing with recruitment, retention, hiring, onboarding, benefits, training, payroll preparation, bargaining, discipline, and auditing, and more.
As Whitehead points out, it all begins with finding the right people to be part of the Will County Health Department team. Right now, including the Northern Branch Office in Bolingbrook and the Eastern Branch Office in Monee, there are 269 employees with the Health Department. Whitehead says the goal is longevity for employees, by finding individuals with the right attitude.
“We are not a money bag here,” Whitehead explained. “These are servant type of jobs. We need go-getters, those that have a servant heart.”
On a day-to-day basis, Whitehead finds herself coordinating many issues, including work rules and policies. She says one important point is that although most Will County Health Department employees fall under a collective bargaining agreement, minus those that are exempt from it and those that work in administration, the policies apply to all employees. “It’s always best to have everyone playing fair in the same sandbox,” Whitehead said. “It’s much better this way, it’s always been done like this, and it just gets better with time.”
Salazar spends much of her time with newly hired employees. This includes getting benefits set up correctly, but then much more once they are settled in. “It’s all about making sure people are getting paid accurately,” said Salazar. “That’s everything from salaries to vacation and sick time to workman’s comp benefits.”
On top of that, there is a tremendous amount of tracking and documentation. For example, Keane says auditors at the federal and state levels are often asking questions about how their grant money is being spent. “They want to see total hours employees have worked and where the money was spent,” Keane explained.
But so often, the main part of the Human Resources workday is making sure current employees have the information they need. Whitehead pointed out that once a month they send out an employee e-mail called “HR Connects,” which answer questions HR might often receive about vacation time or other HR issues.
Then, the last Friday in September each year, Human Resources holds the annual employees benefits fair. This is where all the vendors that offer services to employees, from cell phone service to retirement plans, are there to let employees know what other options they have.
Similar to all human resources departments, the future is very important for the team at the Will County Health Department. That would be not just employee wise, but also facility wise. With the Heath Department building in Joliet scheduled to be replaced within the next few years, Whitehead is imagining a different set up than the current one.
Whitehead says she would like an open, inviting area that can be seen from the main hallway, where current employees or prospective employees could walk in and quickly find what they need. “Right now we have to keep our doors closed except for appointments from Tuesday to Thursday,” Whitehead explained. “But if we had an expanded area where each of us had our own office, there would be more privacy; and we would be able to handle more walk-ins.”
In addition, there is hope for a future expanded area that emphasizes self-service. “Right now, we do a lot of hand-holding here,” Whitehead continued. “We want something that tells employees to stop in and find the information they are looking for. Visualization is always good. We’d like to make it that employees can stop in and see loads of pamphlets to answer questions about programs, policies, and retirement. Also, prospective employees could come in and sit down at a computer to apply, since they may not have a computer at home.”
Until the new building is up, the teamwork status quo of the Will County Health Department Human Resources trio will continue on every working day. For more information, go to www.willcountyhealth.org.