In a few weeks, Callaway County will have a newly organized Human Resources Department to deal with personnel issues involving the county's 160 employees.
Marilyn Bartley, who has worked in the county clerk's office for the last 10 years, will become the county's new human resources director. Her new 12 foot by 15 foot office will be in a Courthouse room currently used to store county voting machines.
Rather than hiring a new employee, the Callaway County Commission decided to convert Bartley's duties to a full-time human resources director. She already had been performing some of those duties for county employees on an informal basis in addition to her responsibilities as payroll clerk. She also was responsible for quarterly reports and prepared W2 withholding tax forms.
One of the problems encountered by the commission in establishing the county's first Human Resources Department was finding appropriate office space in the Courthouse.
But Don Horstman of the county's Maintenance Department came up with an idea to solve the problem. An office in the basement of the courthouse near the County Commission's office has been used to store the county's computerized voting machines that read voter ballots cast at each precinct during elections.
A large conference room in the building will be reduced in size slightly to create storage space for the voting machines in another county building. The conference room also will be used for training of judges and clerks working at each voting precinct.
"We still have some work to do but we are making steady progress in establishing a Human Resources Department. This is going to be a big advantage to our employees as well as to the county," Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungermann said. "We are starting this without adding new county employees and we will evaluate the situation later to see how it is working. We are heading in the right direction."
Western District Commissioner Doc Kritzer said creation of a Human Resources Department was discussed by various office holders when they meet for quarterly financial meetings with the commission.
"This department has been needed for quite some time. We finally bit the bullet this year and got the job done. We are working into it gradually," Kritzer said.
To create a professional Human Resources Department, the commission has hired Steve Cohen of Labor Management Advisory Group in Lee's Summit for $24,000 as a consultant for the next three years. Cohen has surveyed neighboring and similar-sized counties and has helped Callaway County develop a proposed salary schedule.
"We have been consulting with Cohen almost on a daily basis," Bartley said. "During the first year he will help us create human resource office systems. After that I will be consulting with him for advice on various issues."
Eastern District Commissioner Gabe Craighead said the new department also will help with liability issues. He said exit interviews with employees who are resigning will help in evaluating county working conditions.
"We thought about creating a Human Resources office in the county clerk's office but it would be necessary for someone with an employment issue to walk through an office with several other employees," Craighead said. "We wanted a more private place where county employees could discuss a personal employment matter such as a health insurance issue."
Craighead said during the April election Bartley likely will be helping the clerk's office with election-related tasks.
"That's no problem with me because I enjoy working elections," Bartley said.
In her new job Bartley said she wants to provide some wellness and morale services to employees to make their jobs more comfortable and enjoyable.
Next month special training will be conducted for supervisors in various departments on issues relating to human resources. They also will learn how to conduct performance appraisals of employees and create job descriptions.