Personnel Board undergoes review, proposes changes to bylaw

By Betsy Levinson - betsy@theconcordbridge.org

After the release of a bruising report on the way the town hires, compensates and supports its hundreds of non-union employees, the Personnel Board unveiled its initial reaction to the now-disbanded Personnel Task Force’s claims.

The Task Force charged that the Personnel Department did not communicate clear policies to potential new hires, nor meet with either the Select Board or the Personnel Board about its operations regularly, among other items.

“The Personnel Board recommends enhanced communications across the town related to personnel governance, employee engagement and transparency of Personnel Board information,” noted the written material.

“We recognize our responsibility to various constituencies, employees, managers and the Select Board,” said Chairman Bill Mrachek. He went on to thank the Task Force for “bringing together a tremendous amount of information.”

“It will help all of us,” said Mrachek.

The board listed four key areas for improvement: communication, governance, human resources and relationships.

The board is preparing an article for annual Town Meeting that will offer changes to the Personnel Bylaw. They will present it to the Select Board for review in the coming months.

Member Liz Cobbs said the town’s Personnel Board does not get hiring information from the Human Resources department regarding non-union employees whose numbers are down from previous years.

”The figures are not available,” she said, “and there is no requirement to collect the data.” The board is calling for a monthly report on new hires, vacancies and terminations.

Under the governance section of the report, the board seeks to review and update the bylaw, including the reclassification process and job descriptions.

Regarding the Human Resources department, the board is seeking to establish more transparency, clarity and accessibility of personnel policies and procedures.

HR Director Amy Foley said “it wasn’t easy” to hear some of the recommendations but she is committed to the Personnel Board’s push for transparency and clarity.

She touted the work of GovHR, a consulting firm that is conducting a comprehensive review of compensation, classification and benefits of non-union employees.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Foley. “There is a lot of work being done now.”

Foley noted that when she started in 1985 there were fewer than 300 on the payroll, whereas now there are an estimated 750 full and part time workers on the job. She noted the “changing workforce” and expansion of services, including the visitor’s center, lifeguard training, the Beede Center, in-house broadband and the Minute Man Media network

Cobbs said employee confidence and morale “waned a bit,” but the board is working to regain the trust of the estimated 750 employees.

“This is moving in the right direction,” said Select Board member Henry Dane, while colleague Terri Ackerman acknowledged that the town is “behind and needs to catch up” on personnel matters.

The two boards will continue to meet regularly.

Members of the Personnel Board include Mrachek, Cobbs, Nancy Crowley, Katherine Ryan and Joe Emerick.

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