Brown, Juliann (PA) -- HR Director, Central Susquehanna Opportunities Inc. – Retention
Buckley, Diana (TX) -- HR Director, Ellis County, Texas -- Wellness Program
Fogel, Mark, SPHR, GPHR (NY) -- VP of HR and Administration, Leviton Manufacturing – Career Development
Harris, Catherine (KY) – Organization Development Specialist, Toyotetsu America, Inc. – Career Development/Layoff Strategy
Hess, Timothy (SC) – AVP of HR, McLeod Health – Financial Literacy
Hunter, Todd (AR) -- Workforce Training Coordinator, Arkansas State University/Beebe – Workforce Training
Jackson, Kim, PHR (VA) -- Senior HR Staff, Noblis – Leadership Development
Klein, Mary (FL) – VP of HR, Westminster Services – Health and Wellness Programs
Mason, Jennifer, SPHR (MI) -- HR Manager, Oakland County, Michigan – Layoff Strategies
Pasch, Rodney, SPHR (WI) -- HR Director, City of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin – Employee Morale
Powell, Curtis, SPHR (NY) -- VP of HR, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute -- Cost Reduction
Samples, Judy (OR) -- Regional Director, Providence Health & Services – Retention
Sturm, Steve (WI) -- HR Consultant, American Family Insurance – Strategic Alignment
Wojcieszyn, Sally (DE) -- Workforce Development Representative/Recruiter, Delaware Economic Development Office -- Career Development
Wolf, Karen, SPHR (WI) -- HR Manager, Dorner Manufacturing Corporation -- Layoff Strategy
Brown, Juliann -- HR Director, Central Susquehanna Opportunities Inc. – Retention
CSO, Inc. is a private non-profit, charitable 501(c)3 organization, based in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, that relies heavily on donations, community support, and grant funding. The downturn has impacted our future funding sources, including grant funding and individual donations.
The purpose of our health waiver strategy is to maintain an excellent benefits package to retain staff and keep morale high during these tough economic times, while at the same time reducing our costs. CSO is one of the few companies that provide medical benefits for the employees and their dependents without charging a co-premium. Our excellent benefits package has allowed us to competitively recruit and retain high-quality staff. Now, our new plan will allow employees to take a full or partial medical waiver option to eliminate unnecessary health benefits and increase their take-home pays. Currently, employees must waive all medical benefits to qualify for a waiver payment. Our new strategy is to increase waiver payments and allow partial waiver elections. We are increasing waiver payments from $1,500 annually to $3,500 for waiver of all medical benefits and to $3,200 waiver to enroll in only dental and/or vision benefits. The waiver payments will be paid to the employee bi-weekly. The employee may then use the additional money to cover a co-premium on another insurance plan and still have money left over to use where needed. To be eligible to waive medical benefits, employees must have proof that they are covered under another plan. Employees were notified of the new option in December of 2008, and the new plan went into effect on January 1, 2009. Internal surveys showed that 19 employees out of the approximately 92 employees eligible for medical benefits are interested in a full medical waiver, and 7 eligible employees stated they would consider a partial waiver. We currently have 12 employees waiving benefits which include 6 new enrollments due to the new options, 4 of which are partial waivers. We have estimated a total annual savings in excess of $80,000 by 2010 by offering this waiver option. This strategy will enable us to continue to pay 100% of the premium for employees and their qualified dependents despite the economic challenges we face. Although the typical route for another organization may have been to charge a co-premium, CSO understood that current economic times are affecting everyone. Rather than pass additional costs on to staff, our organization selected an option that we feel will be a win-win for everyone.
Buckley, Diana -- HR Director, Ellis County, Texas -- Wellness Program
Ellis County's worker compensation premiums doubled in January, 2008, so we decided to launch a wellness initiative designed to reduce these costs.
We kicked off the wellness program in September, 2008, with an employee health fair, which was attended by over 300 of its 550 employees. A total of 160 received flu shots, and many had blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol testing. They were introduced to exercise strategies, gave blood, learned about colonoscopies, ate a healthy lunch, and much, much more. We had great community involvement with 40 vendors along with seven insurance plan providers. A survey revealed health and safety topics our employees were interested to know more about, and we started monthly classes to discuss them. We also formed a partnership with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service to provide educational handouts with every pay check. County employees are thrilled -- they feel that the leadership truly cares about them as people. They are reading the wellness materials, attending the classes, joining the YMCA, and doing other healthy things. Our workers’ compensation premiums went down slightly already in 2008. While we had been told several times by our workers' compensation carrier that we would have another large increase in January 2009, we were notified this week that instead we will see a three percent decrease.
Fogel, Mark, SPHR, GPHR -- VP of HR and Administration, Leviton Manufacturing – Career Development
Leviton Manufacturing is headquartered in Little Neck, New York, and manufactures electronic applications and devices for residential, commercial and industrial applications. The downturn in housing and office starts has dramatically affected us and led to downsizing and consolidations in our factories, warehouses and businesses this past year.
Focusing our attention on our existing employees during tough economic times is paramount to our survival. Recruiting, retaining and developing a workforce of talented professionals is a core ingredient of Leviton Manufacturing Company’s 103-year long legacy of success. The purpose of our new Talent Management Program is to provide a low-cost organic development solution aligned directly to the pressing needs of our different businesses. Launched in September of 2008, Leviton’s Talent Management Program is utilized to assess an individual’s readiness to assume greater levels of responsibility and involvement within the company. It is based on evaluations performed by superiors, subordinates and peers, along with a self-assessment. The multi-dimensional assessment is based on 10 leadership attributes that are rated in an on-line questionnaire. Performance measurement levels for each of the 10 leadership areas are established for six leadership levels up to Vice President. While third-party application software providers charge in excess of six figures to provide off-the-shelf solutions that measure employee leadership suitability. Leviton, has developed its own in-house system with the only additional cost of $150 a year for "Survey Monkey," a third party survey vendor. Five areas within Leviton’s corporate headquarters have already undergone the talent management assessment program to determine individual employees’ readiness to advance in their careers. Several individuals are now under consideration for higher level positions in the organization, while others will be undergoing a series of training programs to refine skill levels that will be instituted as half-day training programs in 2009.
Harris, Catherine – Organizational Development Specialist, Toyotetsu America, Inc. – Career Development
Toyotetsu America, Inc. is a Tier One supplier for the automotive industry located in Kentucky and is the area’s largest manufacturing facility. Our challenge is to retain our highly specialized workforce and continue organizational development while reacting to a dramatically reduced product schedule.
Our Human Resource department devised a strategy to continue providing a full program of career development training to employees by asking them to dig deep and find new ways to cut costs. They rose to the challenge and submitted thousands of dollars in additional cost savings. We have also been able to provide the same level of training by adjusting the training schedule to allow for smaller groups and more classes in order to not affect the work schedule or require overtime. We have always supported our local SHRM chapter and in 2009 we will offer a weekly SHRM certification class free to local SHRM members and to the Toyotetsu America, Inc. Human Resource Department, which will be taught after normal work hours by me as President of Southeastern Kentucky SHRM. We will also provide scholarships for certification testing for all local SHRM board members who take and pass the PHR or SPHR exams during 2009.
Hess, Timothy – AVP of HR, McLeod Health – Financial Literacy
McLeod Health is a leading South Carolina provider of health care services, an industry which has been adversely affected by the economic downturn. As state tax revenues have dwindled, so have the reimbursements to Medicare and Medicaid programs. Further, patients are forgoing or delaying medical procedures, impacting hospitals' bottom lines.
McLeod Health has been in a process of educating managers and employees about fiscal responsibility to accompany the usual belt tightening called for in times like these. "Helping Enhance Employees Financial Well-being" was adopted with programs specifically designed to address root issues our employee workforce is facing.
Examples of programs that have been implemented or enhanced in 2008 include:
- Financial Peace at McLeod - Partnering with Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, this course is offered at no cost to employees who successfully complete the program. 94% of the initial 139 participants completed the course with a 42% overall improvement of their Financial Wellness Index score and a total combined $585,000 improvement in financial position (debt reduced and savings created).
- Angel Food Network - Partnering with Angel Food Ministries, McLeod Health became a host site to provide employees with a convenient way to access this group food purchasing collaborative. In the first month, McLeod had over 850 participants who ordered and over 75 volunteers who supported the distribution efforts.
- Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Resource - HR worked to educate staff about the IRS's VITA Program, which helps avoid high-cost tax preparation services, avoid refund anticipation loans, and leverage the Earned Income Tax Credit.
- One-on-one Retirement Counseling - Implemented an "On-site Retirement Counselor" to work with employees through the economic downturn to help alleviate fear and reinforce prudent retirement investment strategies. During a period of declining savings nationally, participants have actually increased their savings rates by an average of almost 10% and fund diversification has increased from 2.52 funds per employee to 3.9 funds per employee.
- Commuter Connection Program - A new program rolled out in January, 2009 to help employees save money on commuting costs and/or for those who desire to "go green".
- Medical Plan Design Wizard and Plan Cost Modeler - A Medical Plan Design Wizard and Medical Plan Cost Modeler were developed to help guide employees through each medical plan option and focused on the associated per pay period costs, as well as annualized costs. These changes, coupled with one-on-one employee education sessions, resulted in a shift from 10% of employees enrolled in the "Core" (low) option to 30% with this annual enrollment; after 2 years of unsuccessful attempts at using print media communications alone.
Hunter, Todd -- Workforce Training Coordinator, Arkansas State University/Beebe – Workforce Training
The downturn in the economy has caused many organizations in Arkansas to question workforce training and training programs in general. Arkansas State University-Beebe (ASUB) sought to find a cost-effective tool for organizations to analyze their training options in these circumstances.
ASUB responded to the growing concern by creating a training program catalog that will be distributed to over 250 business entities, chambers of commerce, economic developers, mayors and public school systems. The advantage of the catalog is that it is a "one stop shop" for 2009 training programs in the region. By consulting this workforce training catalog, those responsible for training will knowing when a program is offered, the location and cost of the program, and the way to register online. ASUB distributed a paper survey to over 150 business entities to identify their training needs, and our workforce training catalog was assembled from the information we collected, as well information on past successes and new opportunities. The catalog will be distributed in early January with a letter encouraging the recipient to use specific proposed training and directing them to the online registration tool for that training.
Jackson, Kim, PHR -- Senior HR Staff, Noblis – Leadership Development
Noblis is a Falls Church, Virginia, nonprofit organization with a mission to use the best of science, technology and strategy to serve the public good. As revenue pressures increased during 2008, cost control initiatives moved to the forefront at Noblis. The company plans to continue to grow and prosper by carefully considering each expense category while expanding professional development initiatives.
For many companies, the knee-jerk reaction to economic challenges is to cut any cost that does not tie directly to cash flow. Noblis’s more reasoned response has been to recognize the importance of continuing to invest in employees. We see three main benefits. First, talented employees are the primary source of a long-term reputation of excellence in science, technology and strategy. Second, knowledge-based companies have to ensure that employee skills evolve with markets and with marketplace issues. And third, continual investment engages high performers and helps keep them with the company longer. Despite economic pressures, Noblis senior management re-aligned company objectives for fiscal 2009 and for the first time made employee professional development the #1 corporate priority. As a result, Noblis increased its professional training budget, doubled participation in the formal leadership program, and made a substantial investment in a new online performance management system to be rolled out to all 700+ employees in early 2009. Nominations for our Leadership Development Program began in October, 2008, and, after a rigorous selection process, applicant selections increased twofold. Participants in this program will improve their ability to address our client’s complex systems, process and infrastructure problems, and develop skills that are immediately applicable to corporate initiatives. The new online performance management system replaces the former unpopular paper appraisal process and will provide a better understanding of how an employee’s performance links to company goals. In addition, it provides tools to add, modify and track progress on assignments and fosters a more meaningful manager and employee dialogue. On the cost side, Noblis activated the facility’s weekend energy schedule, extending holiday weekends by promoting “Green Fridays” to conserve energy, protect the environment and recognize employee work/life balance. In addition, our flexible work program promotes telecommuting, compressed work weeks and flexible schedules.
Klein, Mary – VP of HR, Westminster Services – Health and Wellness Programs
We are a Florida-based non-profit retirement housing organization. With the slowdown of home sales, individuals are delayed in moving into vacant apartments, thus causing our occupancy to go down. Our revenues and investments are also down due to the market ebb and flow.
We are trying to offer competitive health care coverage for our employees while also reducing costs. As a non-profit, although a large one, these savings are critical to our financial success, our ability to recruit and retain staff, and our mission to care for our employees. In 2008, we implemented a supplemental health care benefit that offsets the employee deductible and co-insurance, a Wellness Initiative that discounts coverage premiums for next year for participating in this year's wellness programs, and a pharmacy reimbursement program that encourages employees to use the $4 Walmart/Target programs, thus reducing our health plan prescription costs. As a result of introducing these health and wellness programs, we were able to negotiate a reduction in our 2008 health care coverage rates – both for Westminster and our employees -- and we will have no rate increase in 2009.
Mason, Jennifer, SPHR -- HR Manager, Oakland County, Michigan – Layoff Strategies
Oakland County, Michigan, has been particularly hard hit by the declining economy. In the fall of 2007 it became apparent that the declining housing market would result in drastic reductions in property tax values which would have a negative impact on the County budget. We are required to have a balanced budget, so something had to be done.
Our goal was to reduce costs, preserve as many services as possible, and avoid employee layoffs. The purpose of our “Separation Incentive Program” was to give County elected officials and department heads a tool to help them reorganize, restructure and reduce costs. Since we are a service-oriented public agency, employee related costs make up 80% of our budget. Consequently, after taking a look at our employee demographics, the Human Resources Department developed an incentive that would be offered to those employees who were already eligible to retire but still remained in the workforce. This was not an “early” retirement incentive, as we have offered something similar in the past and felt that as an organization we could not afford another “brain drain” of that magnitude. We also instituted a hiring freeze, which resulted in position vacancies that could later be deleted. The separation incentive was a one-time lump sum payment equal to one week of pay for each year of County service, up to a maximum of 35 weeks. A total of 152 employees decided to accept the incentive. Beginning in 2008 and continuing into our adopted budgets for Fiscal Years 2009 & 2010 we were able to delete 180 positions without laying off a single employee. The cost of the incentive was a one- time payout of $5.6 million, but the annual yearly savings going forward will be $10.5 million.
Pasch, Rodney, SPHR -- HR Director, City of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin – Employee Morale
The City of Fond du Lac has 368 employees who provide police and fire protection and a variety of other services. The harsh economic times have put pressure on the City to cut budgets while retaining current services. The situation is further complicated by the demands on City staff to respond to record snowfalls and severe flooding.
The strategy of the City was to counter the negativity of the national economic crisis and the challenges of Nature with a program that promotes the overall well-being of employees and improves their morale. Consequently, the City’s HR department developed “Have a Career – Make a Life”. This program aimed to engage employees in short-term and long-term thinking and actions that affect their day-to-day and long-term health and financial security. Twenty-four employees from all departments volunteered to participate in a Staff Development Committee to develop programs that create financial rewards, both for the employees and the City. Measurable results of the “Have a Career – Make a Life" initiative are as follows: 85% of the employees participate in the Health Risk Assessments program, and 70% of employees are active in some personal or City wellness program. The City has saved significant dollars in claims to its self-funded insurance plan. 40 new employees invested in a 457 tax-sheltered annuity account, 54 employees have invested in a Roth IRA account, and 75% of employees have participated in one-hour workshops on subjects such as: “How to Invest with No Money, How to Evaluate a Mortgage,” and “Things to Consider when your Investments are in a Volatile Stock Market.” A 60% decrease in personal injury and workers compensation claims has been realized. Even though the programs are coordinated by the Human Resources Department, it is the active involvement of the Staff Development Team that continues to make this effort successful.
Powell, Curtis, SPHR -- VP of HR, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute -- Cost Reduction
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a leading private technological research university, located in Troy, New York. Worldwide financial events have impacted all sectors of the economy, and higher education is no exception.
In 2008, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute leadership recognized the need to reduce Institute-wide expenses in preparation for a probable fall in revenues and recurring resources. Within a month of Lehman Brothers’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Rensselaer had in place a draft contingency plan. We wanted to take proactive steps to weather the economic downturn. Also, we wanted to protect our core academic enterprise; student life programs; and continue to focus on the execution of our strategic plan initiatives. Our challenge: We needed to cut our overall budget by 10-15 percent. Any contingency planning had to support The Rensselaer Plan that sets forth a comprehensive strategic course. The transformative Plan, envisioned by Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, President, is for Rensselaer to be a top-tier world-class technological research university with global reach and global impact. Four budget-cutting actions were planned: (1) reduction of salary budgets by staff reductions through attrition and a hiring freeze; (2) reduction of non-salary travel, procurement, advertising and consultant services budgets; (3) reorganization of units and assignments to minimize the impacts of the reductions; and (4) layoffs of non-academic staff positions. Through teamwork, Rensselaer Cabinet Officers and Academic Deans, each with unique and pressing strategic responsibilities, developed and implemented their contingency plans with the oversight of HR and exceeded the Institute’s target budget reduction goal. During this critical time, the Division of Human Resources sought to provide strategic leadership—to offer reason and reassurance—to be the calm in the storm. Our messages linked the well-being of the Institute with the well-being of our faculty and staff. Plans are underway for further workforce optimization efforts in fiscal year 2010. Rensselaer’s Division of Human Resources will continue to reestablish the employee value proposition, reinforcing accountability and productivity, Institutional pride and lead in the execution of the Rensselaer Plan initiatives.
Samples, Judy -- Regional Director, Human Resources, Providence Health & Services – Oregon Region -- Retention
By the summer of 2008, many Providence Health & Services Oregon Region employees were expressing concerns about the rising costs of food, gas, goods and services. In November, Providence Oregon announced major reductions in capital, operations and expenses as a result of the economic downturn.
In August 2008, Providence Oregon Human Resources, in cooperation with Public Affairs and other departmental partners, launched a one- to two-year initiative called “Inflation Busters” to gather and enhance educational, transportation, retail, recreational and wellness benefits available to the company’s employees. The goal was to promote retention and to help reduce the impact of national economic woes on employees through the launch of a comprehensive program offering them low-cost, high-value perks, discounts, incentives, work flexibility and education. These options help stretch their dollars and improve their health and well-being through preventive medicine and wellness techniques. “Inflation Busters” kicked off with an Aug. 4, 2008, letter to all 16,000 Providence Oregon employees from Russ Danielson, Oregon chief executive, and Terry Smith, chief operating officer. Included with each letter was a $25 gift card and a calendar of “sustainable living fairs” to be held over a three-week period at 13 Oregon Region hospital and business office locations in August 2008. Nearly 7,000 employees attended the fairs, and 38 vendors participated, distributing information, door prizes and giveaways. The value of items distributed to employees was estimated to be in excess of $75,000. Among vendors were regional public transit; energy and recycling organizations; cell phone companies; and Providence wellness programs. Portland-area employees attending the fairs also could pick up free annual public transit passes, which Providence purchased at group rates and are valued at $946 each. The “Inflation Busters” program became the promotional vehicle for other programs offering discounts and services to Providence employees, including: LifeBalance, a partner with Providence that offers discounts to employees on thousands of recreational, cultural and wellness businesses. In early November, an “Inflation Busters” logo and employee intranet site were created. The site contains links to the discount services offered to employees, a page with tips on saving money and staying healthy, and news about how Americans are coping with the economic downturn. In addition, an e-mail address was created so employees could share their own methods for saving money with colleagues.
Sturm, Steve -- HR Consultant, American Family Insurance – Strategic Alignment
American Family, based in Madison, Wisconsin, is a Fortune 500 mutual insurance company. The economic challenges our organization faces are the same challenges faced by every property/casualty insurance company in today’s economy. Auto sales are down 17 percent from 2005, and new housing starts are down 53 percent from the peak of the housing bubble in 2005.
American Family has taken a bold step to differentiate itself from the competition. It seeks to become the most trusted and valued service-driven insurance company and #1 overall in customer satisfaction. A key phrase found throughout the 2009 HR Business Plan is “Mission: Alignment.” As the company faces the challenges created by the economic crisis, HR’s alignment to the mission and strategic plan is crucial. Several projects our HR Department will tackle in 2009 are designed to help the organization deal successfully with the current business environment, while others are designed to position American Family for growth when the business climate improves. The projects include:
Wellness -- Our wellness initiative is branded as “Raise the Roof on your Life!” We’re expanding our already wide range of free health risk screenings, informational presentations and wellness events which ultimately help reduce overall health care costs.
Benefits -- We call it Benefits Web 2.0, and it involves creating a new web site for benefits education and communication.
Leadership -- New manager online resources will provide coaching and instructional content to help managers understand their unique role.
Diversity --- Our Women’s and Multicultural Business Resource Groups are affinity-based, diverse employee forums that offer opportunities to share perspectives and build relationships.
Onboarding -- This project will create an engaging onboarding process, which ensures new hires feel welcomed, learn our organizational culture, and are ready to “hit the ground running.”
Technology -- Upgrades to our HR systems will allow us to further automate business processes and increase efficiency.
Organizational Design -- HR experts are participating in a collaborative effort to align American Family’s organizational structure to its customer-focused mission. HR is providing project leadership, consulting and subject matter expertise to this initiative.
Social Media -- HR’s Sourcing & Social Media project is an effort to reach out to new talent pools using Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs and social networking sites like Facebook.
Work-life balance -- We are considering ways we can offer our employees even greater flexibility in their schedules to enhance work-life balance.
Employee Engagement -- HR is leading a Workforce Engagement initiative aimed at placing American Family on the Fortune 100 list of “Great places to work”.
Wojcieszyn, Sally – Workforce Development Representative/Recruiter, Delaware Economic Development Office -- Career Development
In the last three months of 2008, approximately 1,800 Delaware citizens have been, or will be, displaced, and these numbers are expected to increase in 2009. The total closure and elimination of shifts of Delaware companies is causing a catastrophic affect on our citizens, communities, and unemployment insurance funds.
DEDO will launch in 2009 “Bridge to a New Position,” a statewide career development program designed to help recently unemployed people, and soon-to-be displaced employees, to be successful in their search for a new position, thus lessening the impact on our social service agencies and unemployment insurance fund. Participants completing the series will have powerful resumes and the ability to tailor the resume to the potential position. Courses and support services will be offered free of charge. This is a statewide initiative and will be implemented utilizing a team approach which includes the Delaware SHRM, DelMaVa SHRM, RSVP-New Castle, RSVP-Sussex (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program), Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), qualified community volunteers, and affected companies. RSVP-New Castle and RSVP-Sussex, utilizing volunteers who are retired from Human Resources, journalism, resume writing/critiquing, and career and volunteer coaching. SHRM and DEDO will team for marketing and publicity. In Sussex County (southern Delaware), the pilot will target those recently affected by the INVISTA downsizing: approximately 400 individuals who are soon-to-be displaced workers and unemployed individuals who have requested our assistance.
Wolf, Karen, SPHR -- HR Manager, Dorner Mfg Corp -- Layoff Strategy
Dorner Mfg Corp, based in Wisconsin, manufactures low-profile conveyors for many types of markets, including light industry, food industry, and any type of sanitary environment. The downturn in these markets has made it necessary for Dorner to implement in 2009 a layoff strategy it tried successfully before.
Under the strategy, all employees, including our owners and top executives, will choose a one-week layoff period each quarter. We executed this program in 2001 when the economy hit a lull and found that, because it was an "equal" hit for all employees, everyone bought into the plan. In the fall of 2008, we held company-wide meetings to update everyone on how our business had been impacted by the downturn and our plan to implement again the 2001 layoff strategy. Our employees understood the need for this action and are supportive. Our fiscal year runs from October 1, 2008, through September 30, 2009, and our layoff strategy will start in the second quarter -- January-March. All laid-off employees will be eligible to apply for unemployment. Since we have approximately 170 employees, we will save a significant amount of salary costs. Following their short layoffs, employees will be caught up on their health insurance, life insurance and other benefits. A layoff schedule will be posted on the Dorner intranet so everyone can see when employees are scheduled to be off from work. Employees can choose their layoff weeks and our managers will work to honor their requests.