Summary Employee Services Center

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1 Joel Riddle Senior HR Manager Mecklenburg County Human Resources 700 East Fourth Street, 2 nd Floor Charlotte, NC Ph: (704) F: (704) URL: Summary Beginning in 2002, Mecklenburg County began collecting data which indicated a need for change in many of the Human Resources areas. This data was received via consulting agencies, employee climate surveys, employee task teams and departmental customer surveys. This feedback noted opportunities for improvement in the need for more information and direction in areas related to pay, career advancement, training and development opportunities, and fair treatment. Opportunities for improvement also existed in the professional delivery of HR services related to timeliness, efficiency, responsiveness/helpfulness, and flexibility. All data reinforced the need for additional and/or more accessible HR services for employees as well as a need for change in the delivery procedures of all HR services. Employee Services Center Mecklenburg County Human Resources comprises several different divisions providing Human Resources support services to county employees, retirees, vendor services and other outside agencies. In addition to the individual employee attention that is required, HR supports all departments within the County structure by documenting and completing data entry related to employment changes related to departmental resources. Services provided through HR include: Recruitment, Diversity Management, Employee Development, Organizational Development, Classification & Compensation, Benefits, Strategic Planning, Human Resources Management System, Leaves of Absence, and Employee Relations. In addition, HR provides on-site consultation with departments, assisting with the hiring process as well as in the employee termination process. Considering these various services, the growing complexity of the content, and the actively changing workforce, it was becoming increasingly difficult to ensure good customer service. Beginning in 2002, Mecklenburg County began collecting data which indicated a need for change in many of the Human Resources areas. This data was received via consulting agencies, employee climate surveys, employee task teams and departmental customer surveys. This feedback noted opportunities for improvement in the need for more information and direction in areas related to pay, career advancement, training and development opportunities, and fair treatment. Opportunities for improvement also existed in the professional delivery of HR services related to timeliness, efficiency, responsiveness/helpfulness, and flexibility. All data reinforced the need for additional and/or more accessible HR services for employees as well as a need for change in the delivery procedures of all HR services. Other changing processes internal and external to Human Resources also drove the need for a transformational change. General employee information was handled by individual, departmental Human Resource divisions. Consistency in the delivery of this information was rare. In addition, the employee population was growing; employee benefit coverage was becoming more detailed and individually focused; a new market-based pay system had been adopted, and; the organized silo structure within HR was not effective in meeting the department s overall outcomes.

2 Mecklenburg County Human Resources implemented a Human Resources Management System (HRMS), utilizing PeopleSoft software in October The philosophy behind this selected software was to increase the self-service usage among the county employees by developing centralized and accessible means in which they could receive this information. The personalized system for Mecklenburg County HR is referred to as myhr. The Employee Services Center (ESC) concept reinforces the self-service philosophy by providing the support needed for employees who need access to consistent, timely and relevant information. One telephone number was established for this support (432-myHR). Employees are aware of this one, central number to call for assistance. This first phone call initiates a First Contact Resolution process, acknowledging that the issue presented will get handled internally and will be handled timely. Past practices related to immediate outside referral were eliminated. Through an Executive Leadership Steering Committee, the blueprint for the Employee Services Center was composed via a team process, utilizing input from across departments. In conjunction with the development of this work process blueprint, another county team worked to establish the specific competencies needed for employees of the ESC. The preliminary development of the overall HR Transformation project began in the spring of Actual planning and development of the ESC was in place by the fall of Implementation was July 3, A Call Center approach was adopted at the inception of this project. HR contracted with Telvation, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in the establishment, implementation and on-going evaluation of organizational Call Centers. Telvation, LLC had been involved in the development and implementation of other Call Centers within Mecklenburg County government. The top 100 questions/issues anticipated to be received were documented with appropriate answers. A knowledge-base was established with these issues, allowing ESC representatives easy access to documented step-by-step issue resolution for more common place problems. Through the involvement of the future ESC staff, it was quickly determined that the Call Center focus did not provide the appropriate parameters for the outcomes that were needed in HR. The ESC was to be more services driven, and it was recognized that individual employee issues were not going to be those easily monitored through numbers tracking. At the risk of moving beyond the Call Center approach, immediate moves were taken in the development process to focus on this process with a Services Center approach. During the Transformation process, resources from departmental HR divisions were re-deployed, acknowledging the move of some of the generalist activities to the Employee Services Center. The ESC staff was originally implemented with four (4) HR Technicians, three (3) HR Specialists, and one Manager. The composition was restructured and positions were reclassified after the first year. The current team is comprised of 4 HR Specialists, 1 Sr. Quality and Training (Q&T) Specialist for Benefits, and 1 Supervisor (specializing in Classification & Compensation). Outcomes of the ESC initially focused on phone calls received, which accounted for only half of the work completed within the ESC. The overall implementation included moving four original HR employees to the ESC and incorporating their work responsibilities accordingly. At times it was challenging to change the mindset of a Call Center to include the transactional work that continued to need completion.

3 As mentioned previously, Human Resources implemented an information management system utilizing PeopleSoft software. The philosophy behind this selected software was to create a selfservice environment (myhr) for employees to access information pertinent to their employment with the County. PeopleSoft/myHR. The ESC is the available support for customer assistance with myhr, and provides password resets and user-friendly instructions for accessing myhr. In addition to providing the answers to the issues or questions called in, phone conversations are closed by providing a short description/reminder of the ease in which the caller may access the information on his/her own, without assistance. Information in myhr that is not current or is not in a determined order will generate a notice to the ESC to alert them of the issue. ESC staff has access to the back-office process of myhr, allowing them to correct errors or adjust balances and/or totals. Information for payroll is completed through the ESC input, documenting in the system the amount of pay each employee should receive. Payroll cannot be processed until this information is correct. MAGIC. Customer calls are documented and tracked electronically using MAGIC software. This gives the ESC staff the ability to research prior histories of employee calls, noting the current status of each submitted issue or question. MAGIC is utilized by all County call centers. This enables the ESC to discover relevant information pertaining to related calls previously documented in the system. This tracking process allows for the analysis of trend information while also focusing on issues needing additional education among particular employee populations. Also within MAGIC is a Knowledge-Base. The Knowledge Base is set up as a search function allowing the ESC representative to search for a solution to a received issue. Consistent responses to issues will be given by utilizing this resource. T-Metrics. T-Metrics is a telecommunications system that enables many calls to wait in a queue until a representative is available to take a call. The system also captures and reports statistics such as call volume, length of calls, number of calls answered and number of calls abandoned. This information helps identify peak times during a day, week or month. In addition, T-Metrics provides each ESC employee with access to real time call data on their computer screen. Meckweb. Meckweb is Mecklenburg County s intranet service through which myhr is accessed. Employees utilize Meckweb to learn important employment information as well as to research additional County information. Employees have access to myhr from home, via Meckweb, through the internet. The cost for this implementation centered on office renovation, furniture purchases, and software licenses for all appropriate HR staff, which includes the program experts needed for issue escalation. Indirect cost not tracked include the support services utilized from the County s Information Services staff for the initial set-up of phones and computers in a temporary location, then subsequently moved to a permanent location after the work area construction was complete. Internal building maintenance staff was also utilized to install the electronic wallboard. The initial set up design included cubicle walls, four (4) feet in height, somewhat standard for Call Center environments. Due to the amount of confidential information the staff was receiving and discussing, it became clear that this height was not adequate. Extension partition walls were purchased, raising the cubicle wall height to 64 inches.

4 The original staffing design proved to be ineffective in supporting a quality-based, information environment. Changes were made in the classifications of the ESC representatives, based on the actual work they were performing. Two Senior Quality and Training Specialist positions were added, one focusing on Benefits issues, one on Classification and Compensation issues. The Manager position became a working Supervisor position, focusing on daily operations and outputs. Costs: $21,001 Office up-fitting and furniture $ 9,000 Cubicles upgrade (wall height extensions) $30,000 Software licensing $ 8,000 Phone upgrades (including an ACD system/menu option service) $ 4,000 Wallboard Monitor $72,000 Total Up-Fit Cost Salaries/Fringe (Market) Initial set up: $140, $35, x 4 HR Technicians $119, $39, x 3 HR Specialists $ 65, HR Manager $325, Salary Dollars Only $114, % Fringe $439, Total Initial Set-up Salary & Fringe (Market Rate) Restructure (decrease of one position): $199, $39, x 5 HR Specialists $ 51, Sr. Quality & Training Specialist $ 45, ESC Supervisor $296, Salary Dollars Only $103, % Fringe $400, Total Restructure Salary & Fringe (Market Rate) $439, Total Up-Front Salary/Fringe Cost $511,966.92* Total Cost to Implement *For budgeting purposes, the funds for the HR Specialists and HR Technicians salaries/fringe benefits were already available due to all positions being previously funded in that Fiscal Year s budget. Positions were reallocated from other departments to HR for this transformation process. The implementation of the ESC has been a benefit to all employees of Mecklenburg County, as well as to County Retirees, Vendor services and additional outside agencies. The benefit to employees has been two-fold: First, it allows faster access to needed personal information for their own personal business. Second, it provides a central contact for internal management and/or employee functions which should be handled within the HRMS (myhr) system. System-performed transactions are not always cooperative. The ESC is there to provide the back-up needed for assistance with these process interruptions. The amount of work and re-work that was previously completed has virtually been eliminated from all County departments. The quality of the work that is completed is now measured and the integrity of our data is reinforced. Within the first year the ESC averaged 1224 phone calls/month. In

5 addition, an average of 1888 transactions was completed monthly, not necessarily associated with these phone calls. These calls and many of the transactions were those previously handled in the individual departments of County government. The efficiency and time savings within departments has been one enormous, positive outcome of this investment. Human Resources staff located within those departments can now focus on more employee relations-based issues and be more readily available as needed. From July 2006 through November 2007, the ESC has taken 21,398 phone calls. Completed transactions were not in a measurable state until January 2007, however from that time through November 2007, a total of 20,247 transactions have been completed. Customer feedback surveys are sent electronically to random users of the MAGIC tracking system. From September 2006 (survey implementation) through August 2007, the average positive response rate was 96.7%. During February and August of 2007, the positive response rate was 100%. The lowest feedback response rate for that time period was in December 2006, at 93.6% positive and 6.4% negative. First Contact Resolution rate has remained above 95% since implementation. The outcomes from this service delivery improvement have been exceptional, supporting the costs associated with its implementation. Soft outcomes include: More consistent information A holistic approach to employee issues is taken More and more of the current HR responsibilities are evaluated for possible transfer to the ESC of either the entire process or an upfront, generic involvement, from an information-giving perspective. Some of these services include: New Employee Orientation, Leaves of Absence, Position Control, Market Survey Responses, and Retirement. As more data is collected and more knowledge is obtained by the ESC staff, we will continue to search for ways to incorporate parts of the Human Resources functions into the Employee Services Center process.

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