September 26th is HR Professional’s Day. You may wonder, “Why does human resources get a day all to themselves?” If we had to guess, it’s because they serve as the silent backbone of any competent organization. Without them, business as we know it would likely grind to a halt.
To us, HR has always been about meeting the needs of employees and supporting their well-being. We talked to Melissa Yates, General Counsel/HR Manager, as well as Tonya Wurth, Benefits & Wellness Specialist, to get their perspectives on the how and why of human resources. What we found is that Melissa and Tonya serve very different but highly connected and complimentary roles within the organization.
First, every company needs quality people to grow and evolve. Without an influx of talent, a company would run out of bandwidth for the opportunities that come its way. Worse yet, you can’t simply fill seats without any regard for talent and personality. That’s where Melissa comes in.
“As the HR manager, I handle items such as recruiting, posting of open positions, and reviewing applications and resumes. My job also includes hiring through participation in interviews and making formal offers to candidates. We have to make sure the people we hire fit our culture of excellence. We are mindful of the mission which is to build a workplace where everyone can utilize their individual skills, talents, and passion to assist in the delivery of outstanding services to our clients. As we like to say, our company isn’t a good fit for everyone, it takes a certain type of person to thrive here.
I also assist managers with performance reviews, employee promotions, compensation analysis, compliance and risk management, strategical and tactical advice for the owners and managers of the organization, HR data and analytics management, employee engagement surveys, and information sharing with employees, whether that is about various benefit offerings or communicating information from management to employees. And, occasionally, my job includes employee relations and conflict resolution.”
To put it simply, Melissa has a large role in finding and acquiring the talent that keeps us relevant and maintaining, tracking, and cultivating that talent once an employee has been onboarded.
Benefits and Wellness
Benefits are what most people think of when they think of the function of HR. However, most people don’t recognize the breadth and responsibility of that function. According to Tonya, “There is more to my job than just benefits and wellness.” Her responsibilities also include items such as:
- Notifying new hires about what benefits are available, how to sign up for benefits, and notifying them when their benefits are effective. Then once new hires make their elections, I have to transmit that information to each insurance carrier in a timely manner. I also notify employees of any updates from the insurance carriers.
- Auditing the insurance carrier bills for accuracy in order to protect the company from inaccurate charges and make sure everyone has the coverages they signed up for.
- Encouraging new hires to participate in the wellness program and schedule educational sessions each month for the employees.
- Answering employee questions regarding their benefits or the wellness program.
Melissa gets involved in benefits from the perspective of analyzing the Company’s benefits offerings and making certain we are providing the best benefits options available to our employees. This includes participating in the annual renewal process with the various companies we purchase benefits through and trying to make certain the employees are getting the best benefits for the money. This is directly tied to acquiring and retaining talent so it is a very high priority within the organization.
Employee wellness affects the company’s resources as well as its productivity and, at the end of the day, its culture. The health of the employees, how they feel both mentally and physically, goes a long way toward guaranteeing the growth, stability, strength, and sustainability of an organization.
Is there a stigma to HR? We’re not sure, but we know that HR can be the butt of jokes at times, like in shows such as The Office, where the HR employee, Toby, is a total stick in the mud. We asked Melissa to talk about the misconception about what HR is and what it does.
“People sometimes think HR is out to get them and it just isn’t the case. On the contrary, no one will go to bat more than HR when it comes to making sure policies are applied fairly, that benefits are administered correctly, or getting employees an answer about benefits. Sometimes our job requires a delicate balance between employee interests and the company’s interests. However, we really try hard to be there for our employees because it is essential to be cognizant that the employee experience affects the health of the culture and protecting the culture is crucial to the success of HR and the company as a whole.
People also might also think we aren’t “fun” and get offended easily. However, a large part of our job is to be inclusive and try and make everyone feel welcome when they show up as a candidate or an employee. We do that when we welcome new employees, celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, recognize professional accomplishments, celebrate employee’s milestones such as marriage, children, grandchildren, retirement. That personal element is what gives our work in HR so much meaning.”
This is just a high-level overview of HR at BFW/Marcum. The day-to-day work of HR involves pivoting from one issue to another and the ability to exercise a great deal of discretion and sensitivity with regard to personal information. Melissa and Tonya work daily to preserve the culture of our company and to engage and highlight the efforts of our employees. They do those things because they truly care about the people they work with and want to see them benefit from their work in more ways than just receiving a paycheck. HR helps us cultivate a culture of talent and wellness, and for that we say, “Thank You!” to Melissa and Tonya.