Friday, September 5, 2014

Karen Visits FSSA!

I’ve spent the last three weeks in FSSA, the Family and Social Services Administration. This agency is responsible for distributing funds to care providers for children, the aging, the disabled, and other vulnerable populations in Indiana.  Like, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Child Services, FSSA is a very large agency with many, many employees and widespread locations.

Much of the agency’s workforce is retiring in the next five to seven years, and some key positions will lose many employees all at once. To prevent a crisis, FSSA is recruiting a large volume of people to fill the positions that will become vacant in the near future. In addition to current positions becoming open due to retirement, many new positions have been created and approved, and these too must be filled.

My main project during this rotation was to source for one particular position at dozens of schools and job sites. Thirty Disability Claims Adjudicator positions are open, and they need to be filled as quickly as possible. Because of this, I posted jobs as school and job boards based in other states as well as Indiana, and opened the position up for all majors and areas of study to get the maximum number of applicants. My other project during this rotation was updating employee information in PeopleSoft, which helped me get more familiar with the program and its capabilities.

The main lesson I learned at this agency was how important it is to be aware of who is in your workforce and when and how they might leave. If you don’t stay on top of this as an HR professional, you could end up with a large number of vacancies in key business areas, and your business will almost certainly be negatively affected.  It was also interesting to learn how difficult it truly is to get a qualified pool of applicants to apply for one open position, let alone 30. To get 30 qualified applicants, we’d probably need a few hundred general applications! This taught me that there’s much more to hiring than simply going through applications and choosing the right candidate – getting a pool of good applicants is a challenge all in itself.

Sadie works with Small Field Ops and AGO!

The past three weeks I have spent my time with the Small Agency Field Operations division. As I’m sure you can guess this division is responsible for many small agencies with the State of Indiana ranging from one single employee to about 300 employees per agency.  I had the pleasure of working with the HR Generalists for the Department of Education and the Adjutant Generals Office. Both of these were very different experiences, but both extremely educational.

The HR generalist for the Department of Education (DOE) just recently promoted into this position from another HR Generalist position within the State Personnel Department. In her new role, she is also responsible for a few other agencies but DOE is her biggest. While she was getting settled in and getting familiar with her new agencies, I helped her with numerous things to get started. The first thing I did was update all of her offer letters so that they would be specific to DOE. Then I put together a letter for her to send out to supervisors when they have a new employee starting with them. The letter included information such as a start date, starting salary, where the employee will be their first two days on the job, what equipment they will be receiving, and what badge access they will have. This, to me, was a great letter for the supervisors to have so that they are not in the dark about what is happening with their new employee.

The big project that we tackled was the DOE OnBoarding packet. When an employee starts, they have a full day of OnBoarding with the state. In addition, they also have OnBoarding their second day for DOE specific information. There was information in the packet that had not been revised in quite some time, so we went through all of the documents and updated them. There were policies that had changed, new employees that needed to be added to the contact list, and information that didn’t need to be in there at all. This was a great way for me to learn about reading and updating policies, as well as knowing more about DOE’s OnBoarding process.

I learned so much about day to day activities that happen in HR, as well as how to deal with employee relations matters. I had some experience with employee relations when I was with the Department of Health, but it was nice to see how different people handle different situations. It really gives you an idea of the steps that you need to take for discipline, and how to gauge if the discipline fits the situation. Everything I learned will be nice to take with me in my future with HR.

After I was done with DOE, I spent a week at Camp Atterbury working with the Adjutant Generals Office (AGO). I met with the AGO’s HR Generalist to discuss what I would be doing during this rotation. She told me that I would be job shadowing the gun range target technicians so that I could fill out a Job Analysis Questionnaire (JAQ) for them in order to get their job reclassified. The JAQ consists of questions such as what duties you perform, what responsibilities you have, and what kind of working conditions you have to endure. They are looking to get this position reclassified because there is so much technology and new work that has been assigned to this position over the past ten plus years since it was last reclassified.

I had a wonderful experience while working with the target tech crew. Their job has so many aspects to it that I don’t know how they manage to get everything done. They maintain thousands of electronic remote targets on 62 gun ranges. These ranges vary in size from less than an acre to 3 miles long. Not only do they have to make sure all of the targets and all electrical work is running properly, they also have to mow and upkeep the ground maintenance for all 62 ranges and the roads and trails that lead to the ranges. The sheer volume of maintenance that they have to do is astounding, but they manage to keep everything in perfect working condition so that military units, law enforcement, and civilians can get all of the proper training they need for real life combat or hostile situations.

The target tech’s main goal is safety. They are responsible for the safety of themselves and their coworkers while they are working on the ranges. They also supervise a crew of offenders from the Edinburgh Correctional Facility whose safety they are responsible. They have to ensure the offenders are using equipment properly as well as wearing the correct protective gear while they are running the equipment. Their job also requires them to run scenarios through a software program to ensure that everyone is getting the proper training they need on the ranges. Without the proper training, the military units or law enforcement teams could be put into real life situations that they may not know how to handle. These workers are dedicated to the safety of others and will do whatever is required of them if it means saving a life.

Aside from all of the insects and rodents I encountered, I had a fantastic experience at Camp Atterbury. I saw a total of 13 deer, 4 of which were babies, learned a vast amount about the military and how they train, and met some really wonderful people. I also want to say that I got to drive an old Army fire tank. The target techs use it if they have a brush fire or need to put a fire out on one of the ranges. That tank was huge and driving it was probably one of the coolest things that I have ever done. I had a great week full of excitement that I will never forget.

My internship is winding down and I will be spending my last week back with the Talent Acquisition Division!