From the County Manager Column from July 20, 2021

Implementing a new vision for the Human Resources talent team

As we strive to be a public employer of choice through the Talent Attraction, Retention and Promotion strategic priority, it’s important to reground on the piece that binds all this work together: talent. This summer, Human Resources is embarking on an exciting transformation to build our strength in recruiting and supporting the talented professionals we need to advance Ramsey County’s mission, vision and goals.

On a surface level, our work to position HR as a strategic partner through this priority admittedly isn’t the flashiest or most exciting. It’s harder to see the tangible outcomes of this work compared to new county values, job classifications, compensation structures and personnel rules. But a key element of being a strategic partner is building and sustaining foundational excellence – a concept HR has committed to as they lead our organization through integrating and implementing the four themes of Talent Attraction, Retention and Promotion.

One of the pillars of foundational excellence is making sure the right structure is in place to support the talent needs of our organization at all steps in the employee journey – from recruitment to hiring to retention. To address this, Human Resources has identified a revised structure for their talent team with three branches – general services; operations (which includes our exams, transactions and reception staff, and in the near future will include talent acquisition); and diversity, inclusion and organizational development. The new structure and vision is grounded in our county values, mission, vision and goals, and is focused on prioritizing racial equity throughout all HR practices and processes.

In the third quarter of 2021, the general services team will realign by service team to better support the county’s business needs. In our current structure, a generalist may support departments with very different services and talent needs (for example, the County Attorney’s Office and Public Works, or Emergency Management & Homeland Security and Communications & Public Relations). This makes it difficult to work with service teams to prioritize work and act as a strategic business partner to service teams. As we move later into 2021, we’ll have more to share about the new talent acquisition function identified as part of the team structure. At its core, this function will provide specialized recruitment and talent attraction capabilities to ensure we’re recruiting potential applicants with the skills, values, professional and lived experiences we seek in county employees.

All of this work will allow HR generalists to provide better strategic support to meet talent needs by gaining a deeper understanding of shared business goals and operations across service teams. Generalists will be positioned to advise departments within a service team on their specific strategic HR and talent needs like performance management, development, succession planning and employee engagement – not simply filling vacancies. This structure will also ensure consistency in programs and processes while allowing flexibility for specific business needs. Service teams can look forward to hearing more about the generalists that will serve as their business partners in the new structure in the weeks ahead.

My thanks to our HR team – particularly the general services action team that worked in partnership with HR’s deputy directors and managers – for doing the work to review, evaluate, develop and recommend this new structure to meet Ramsey County’s current and future talent needs. Your insights and ideas have been critical in leading us to this moment and moving HR from a transaction-oriented team to a strategy and outcome-oriented team.