How state and local government HR teams can prioritize the “human” aspect of the job
In a year marked by so much disruption, human resources (HR) teams were at the forefront of answering questions related to COVID-19, ensuring their workplaces were inclusive for all voices, managing changes to work environments and figuring out regulatory updates—and all for the first time. Since there was no roadmap for dealing with a global pandemic, HR teams had to keep pace with everchanging guidelines while keeping employees safe. For HR teams within state and local government departments, this meant they needed to digest the information and make recommendations more quickly, so that their own teams could work safely and efficiently while maintaining regulatory compliance. Government HR teams also had to ensure that employees in garbage and waste recovery services had the proper protection they needed to continue serving customers.
With information being updated on what seems to be a daily or weekly basis, it can be easy for HR teams to focus solely on compliance and meeting regulatory standards, rather than helping their colleagues and other employees succeed in their roles and ensure their mental and health well-being. To automate much of the regulatory aspect of their roles, state and local government HR teams can leverage workforce management technology, so their time can be spent on value-added employee initiatives, including creating inclusive and diverse cultures, or training future leaders to handle everchanging guidelines and support employees’ mental and healthy wellbeing—putting the “human” back in human resources. With more time spent on building up employees and colleagues vs. laborious tasks, HR managers at state and local governments can help their teams thrive.
COVID’s impact on the HR role
As the pandemic swept through the United States, employees across organizations turned to the HR departments for answers. With an already-full plate, HR teams were tasked with creating plans in terms of how the workplace would operate—fully remote, on-site or hybrid—and being the go-to resource for questions related to the virus and regulations surrounding it. For HR members working in state and local government, they must continue to balance managing COVID-19 inquiries while empowering remote and on-site employees, tracking time and attendance, managing leave requests and controlling costs.
As HR departments were tasked with more compliance-related responsibilities, this could easily become the sole focus for HR teams. While it is important for HR teams to pay attention to and ensure compliance, the “human” aspect of their jobs—ensuring the mental and emotional well-being of employees, creating inclusive environments and helping employees grow in their careers—is also critical as updates about the pandemic and unsettling current events continue to dominate news cycles.
To help manage the regulatory and compliance portion, state and local government HR teams can leverage workforce management solutions to streamline and automate compliance processes, so their energy can be spent on the “human” portion of their day-to-day roles.
Workforce management’s impact on state and local government HR teams
At the height of the pandemic, companies that could efficiently have their employees work from home chose to do so, and state and local government offices were no exception. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 57 percent of state and local government employees worked remotely in May 2020, but in August 2020, that number dropped to 35 percent. As an industry that is accustomed to working in an office setting, it was challenging to transition from in-office to remotely overnight. With a workforce management system, state and local government teams can increase efficiencies related to time and attendance, scheduling and leave management by providing HR personnel with the key workforce data they need to make the best decisions. Workforce management systems enable everyone to access the same information, so there is no confusion when it comes to scheduling and time and attendance data. HR teams can also share information, such as new policy changes, to employees so that everyone receives the same information in real-time. These tools can help HR teams learn what is top of mind for employees, so there is open communication between HR and employees. This way, HR teams can more easily understand what employees need and expect. Furthermore, these tools can help keep hourly workers safe, thanks to mobile and contactless clock-in systems.
Integrated workforce management systems can also help state and local government HR teams manage regulatory issues. As HR teams know, there will likely be more regulations that they will need to adhere to in 2021 and determine how they will be impacted. For example, the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act, which President Biden enacted in early March, impacts employers in terms of tax credit provisions, paid sick leave and covered reasons for sick leave. This means that state and local government HR teams will need to quickly ingest the information to understand how state, city or town employees are impacted, all while balancing compliance measures for COVID-19 regulations that were set to expire in 2020 but are still in effect.
With a workforce management system at their disposal, state and local government HR teams gain the time they need to complete value-added tasks and help their colleagues, both personally and professionally. By leveraging workforce management solutions, HR teams can optimize the regulatory aspect to help their fellow colleagues thrive, ultimately putting the “human” back in human resources.
Mindy Honcoop is the Chief People Officer at TCP (TimeClock Plus), where she builds and leads the overall vision to optimize the TCP culture. To ensure employee satisfaction, accelerate business performance and drive engagement, Mindy coaches and influences senior leaders, and designs and implements transition strategies that fuel global growth.