HR Professionals Across the U.S. Step Up, Create Programs to Survive the Recession

Feb 11, 2009

HR Professionals Across the U.S. Step Up, Create Programs to Survive the Recession

SHRM Honors 15 Members with Economic Stimulus Prize

Alexandria, Va. – The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) honored 15 of its members today for creating HR solutions that are successfully helping their companies survive the current economic crisis by avoiding layoffs, saving money and maintaining morale.

Called the “SHRM Economic Stimulus Prize,” $1,000 prizes were awarded to individual HR professionals whose HR strategies produced a measurable and positive impact on business operations.

The winning case studies highlight best HR practices to:

  • attract and retain talented employees through leadership training and career development;
  • create cost cutting strategies to avoid layoffs;
  • reduce health care costs through employee wellness programs; and
  • implement financial literacy programs that help employees cope with the difficult economic circumstances.

“I salute these 15 outstanding HR professionals for their leadership and bold thinking to tackle some of the toughest workplace challenges caused by this recession,” said SHRM President and CEO Laurence G. O’Neil. “These fresh ideas and innovative programs clearly demonstrate HR’s role in creating smart and sophisticated business strategies in response to the growing economic crisis.”

The 15 winners are from nonprofits, private companies, state and local governments, and universities.They also represent every region of the United States, which shows that HR professionals across the country are implementing innovative, results-based solutions to combat the economic downturn.

Highlights of the winning case studies are below. Detailed summaries of the winning case studies can be accessed at:

  1. Juliann Brown – HR Director, Central Susquehanna Opportunities Inc. (CSO) – CSO implemented an innovative health waiver strategy that allows it to maintain its excellent health benefits (no co-premium), retain employees, keep morale high, and -- at the same time -- cut costs.
  2. Diana Buckley – HR Director, Ellis County, Texas – After its worker comp premiums doubled in January, 2008, Ellis County launched a wellness program that has already led to a three percent decrease in its 2009 workers’ compensation premiums.
  3. Mark Fogel – VP of HR and Administration, Leviton Manufacturing Corporation – Leviton HR developed a low-cost, in-house talent management program aligned directly to the pressing needs of the company’s different businesses as they face stiff economic challenges.
  4. Catherine Harris – Organization Development Specialist, Toyotetsu America Inc. – Toyotetsu HR devised a strategy to continue providing a full career development training program, principally through employee creativity in finding new ways to cut costs.
  5. Timothy Hess – AVP of HR, McLeod Health – McLeod launched “Helping Enhance Employees’ Financial Well-Being,” a multifaceted program specifically designed to address several root issues the company’s workforce is facing.
  6. Todd Hunter – Workforce Training Coordinator, Arkansas State University-Beebe (ASUB) – ASUB responded to growing concern in Arkansas about workforce training programs by creating a comprehensive, user-friendly training program catalog to be distributed in 2009 to more than 250 businesses, chambers of commerce, economic developers, mayors, and public school systems.
  7. Kim Jackson – Senior HR Staff, Noblis – In spite of economic pressures, Noblis recognized that talented employees were the key to its reputation of excellence and made employee professional development its number one 2009 corporate priority, doubling participation in its formal leadership development program.
  8. Mary Klein – VP of HR, Westminster Services – Westminster launched a wellness initiative, a supplemental health care benefit, and a pharmacy reimbursement program that has helped employees and led to a reduction in company and health care coverage rates.
  9. Jennifer Mason – HR Manager, Oakland County, Michigan – Faced with a difficult economy, the County succeeded in deleting 180 positions without laying off a single employee, using a separation incentive program for employees who were eligible for retirement.
  10. Rodney Pasch – HR Director, City of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin – To counter the negative economic mood and to promote the well-being and morale of its employees, the City developed the popular “Have a Career – Make a Life” program with very positive results.
  11. Curtis Powell – VP of HR, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – Rensselaer’s HR department played an integral role in implementing a well-crafted contingency plan that achieved a $24 million budget reduction while still maintaining the Institute’s comprehensive strategic course.
  12. Judy Samples – Regional Director, Providence Health & Services – Oregon Region – To promote retention and help its employees cope with the economic downturn, Providence launched its “Inflation Busters” program, expanding its educational, transportation, retail, and wellness benefits.
  13. Steve Sturm – HR Consultant, American Family Insurance – American Family’s human resource department has developed a range of 2009 projects to continue its strong alignment with the company’s customer-centric mission in confronting current economic challenges and positioning the company for future growth.
  14. Sally Wojcieszyn – Workforce Development Representative/Recruiter, Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) – DEDO will launch in 2009 “Bridge to a New Position,” a statewide career development program designed to help recently unemployed people be successful in their search for a new position.
  15. Karen Wolf – HR Manager, Dorner Mfg. Corp. – Because layoffs could not be avoided, all 170 Dorner employees, including senior executives, have agreed to take a one-week layoff per quarter in 2009 -- a strategy that worked successfully during the 2001 recession.


About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at


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