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HR Expertise Made Convenient for Small Cities

April 6, 2017  |  Kaye McCann, Blairsville City Clerk
While large cities may enjoy fully staffed Human Resource departments with HR legal experts close at hand, smaller cities must often get by on the knowledge of their small staffs. However, HR law is complex—constantly chang­ing, updating and fluctuating. It’s hard to keep up.
 
Blairsville is a great example of a small city without ac­cess to immediate HR expertise that benefits from GMA’s new service—HR Express. For City Clerk Kaye McCann, this kind of timely information through webinars, news­letters, sample policies and access to HR experts is a god­send. For City Clerk Kaye McCann, access to timely HR information through webinars, newsletters, sample policies as well as to HR ex­perts is a godsend.
 
“Sometimes you don’t even know what questions you have until you listen to these HR webinars,” McCann said. “They spark questions about various HR issues that may not be top of mind or part of your knowledge.”
 
In this City to City interview, McCann talks about various examples of what she’s learned from HR Express, how she applies this knowledge to her growing city, and why cities, especially small cities, need to take advantage of this unique service.
 
GMA just recently started offering HR Express, and so it’s clear they developed the program to fill a need for cities. As a small city, what HR issues and problems do you struggle with the most?
Small cities often lack an HR department with staff dedicated to knowing the ins and outs of HR law. We don’t have HR legal expertise on hand or access to HR legal advice. Many times, we don’t even know when to ask questions because HR is such a complicated area. It’s easy to not even realize that what you’re doing is wrong.
 
In my previous job, I worked for a private school and one of my many hats was HR. However, I focused more on getting people’s benefits started and answered questions about insurance or sick leave. When questions came up about law, we had other people to fall back on. It became easy to take that access to expertise for granted.

Not so with small cities. And even if you have people at your city dedicated to HR, going to training, and learning the laws, there are still constant updates and changing laws. You need somebody dedicated to knowing the ins and outs of HR law—or a city clerk like me needs resources at hand like HR Express.
 
What are some examples of issues and problems that HR Express has helped you with?
I reviewed some recent HR Express slideshows about comp time. They clarified that there was a cap on comp time for dif­ferent classes of departments. For example, caps on comp time are different for police officers and emergency responders ver­sus other staff. As your staff accrues comp time, it’s one of those things in the back of your mind as you’re looking at year-end records. You need to know that certain people can’t use or have a certain amount of comp time.
 
We also have a policy in our handbook on bereavement leave, and we had a question that came up. I went onto HR Express online and found a sample be­reavement policy that clarified what constituted immediate family. It also gave us a chance to look at how our policy compared with the one on HR Express.
 
What aspects of HR Express have been most helpful to you?
All HR topics are important to us—especially as our city continues to grow. I like the monthly HR webinars and access to archived webinars (because you never know when you’re not going to be able to attend one). I also like the quarterly newsletters, and I’m looking forward to the yearly seminar. As a new city clerk, I like to network with other city clerks who have similar HR responsibilities. I en­joy finding out what issues they’ve come across, seeing if they had the same issues as me, and learning how they handled it. The yearly seminar will be a big help to many city clerks by getting us talking more to each other about HR.
 
For cities that might be on the fence about HR Express, what would you say to them?
While HR Express is still a new service, I’ve been helped a great deal in the short amount of time it’s existed. As a small city that does not have a standalone HR de­partment, HR Express offers resources for me to have at hand when issues come up. HR Express can be beneficial to all cities but especially those without HR de­partments or access to HR legal experts. HR Express is your access.
 
For more information contact Aileen Harris at aharris@gmanet.com or 678-686-6293.

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