I know it may be hard, but try and ignore the impression of HR you got from Toby on The Office (okay, maybe I made it harder by putting a picture of him, but how could i not?). Not only is the Human Resources department more lively, they are also seen and used as a crucial asset by all of the departments in the City.
One of the topics that stuck out to me this week was benefits, which can be a bit of a problem for the City. For example, many people applying to jobs with the City don’t realize or don’t place importance on the great benefits that come with the job. The impression is that many people look at the pay and don’t apply or don’t accept the job because they are only focused on what they take home at the end of the pay period, missing the usually great benefits. This has unfortunately led to a few vacancies, which may require different methods of advertisement in the future. If there is one takeaway: look at benefits as much as you look at pay, because a job could have better perks than you realize.
That moves us on to interviewing! In addition to their daily tasks, each HR staff is a liaison for a few departments with the City and will help out with interviews. While departments can come up with their own question, they will sometimes ask HR for assistance in formulating questions or even style of interview. For example, we met with one department and tossed around some ideas for an interview process involving a supervisory role. One neat interview round idea was to have the applicant run a meeting, while the interviewers all took on personas that the applicant would have to deal with while presenting.
The department also started Salisbury University, which is a form of internal training. The six levels of training that involve an increasing number of classes allow internal staff to learn more about the organization and about being a leader, which ideally leads to promotion further down the line. I viewed this as another perk of the job, as leadership training and the skills it teaches add value to an employee, giving you a better chance at promotion or even skills that you could use in another organization should an opportunity arise. Plus, it shows that Salisbury is investing in its staff, which is a great environment to be a part of.
Last but not least – SWAY (the Salisbury Way). This is the new culture the City of Salisbury is trying to create for itself, and is a customer service oriented culture. In addition to encouraging staff to go above and beyond their duties, SWAY has various committees dedicated to workshopping ideas and spreading SWAY around the City. While SWAY is admittedly still in an early phase with kinks being worked out, it is already making Salisbury a better place to work and live. In one project, City staff could go visit and learn about different departments, which increases their knowledge base and builds a community. My personal favorite (which I think is SWAY related) is the Community Engagement Fridays, when a group of City staff go around a selected neighborhood and ask for feedback in person from citizens, as well as distribute flyers for any upcoming events. This is a great way to connect to citizens, especially if they can’t use the internet or come by the office. SWAY is hard for me to explain, but I definitely feel it when I am here.