Governor Ned Lamont yesterday provided a status update on the executive order he signed in 2019 that directed state agencies to streamline their human resources operations in an effort to reduce bureaucracy and implement efficiencies with the goal of improving the ability of residents to interact with the state, all while saving taxpayer dollars. Improvements the state has made so far include the elimination of backlogs, the launch of LinkedIn Learning, and the digitization of over a million pages of paper.
The governor said that an added benefit of centralizing the state’s human resources team during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been the ability of state agencies to work together more quickly.
“This process is a perfect example of the mantra that we can accomplish more when we work together, and that’s the culture my administration has tried to promote as a principle of good government,” Governor Lamont said. “From digitizing hundreds of thousands of pages of files, to eliminating backlogs, to building new teams with specialized skills, this is a modern HR effort that supports each and every one of our dedicated state employees and an environment that gets work done.”
Under this initiative, the state has reached a number of specific milestones, including:
- Launched LinkedIn Learning to help state employees address workplace and societal issues, state mandatory topics, business, technical, and skills development;
- Eliminated the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) backlog of 500 cases;
- Eliminated the military leave backlog of 30 cases;
- Digitized over 100,000 paper files, totaling over 1 million pages (most notably in workers compensation and FMLA programs);
- Processed over 700 retirement applications with higher rates of accuracy than in the past, eliminating the need to re-work service calculations; and
- Built specialized teams to work across state government in a consistent and more efficient manner, thereby relieving on-site human resources offices of service delivery workload and enabling them to better support their respective agencies during the pandemic.
This centralization process has allowed the HR team to balance work across a larger pool of individuals, rather than in smaller groups of staff at agencies, and ensure that policies across state agencies are consistent.
This update in structure has provided the state an opportunity to promote staff and hire new employees with a fresh perspective. The HR and labor relations teams started this process with roughly 350 staff, anticipating that by the 2022 retirement wave they would lose up to about 140 individuals. Centralization has helped support a plan to hire roughly 70 new staff, arriving and building a team of around 280 individuals who can work more collaboratively and efficiently.
“This initiative is a great example of the opportunities we have in state government to improve the quality of the service we provide, use technology to help us become more efficient, and create new training and career opportunities for our employees all while reducing cost,” Josh Geballe, commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services and the state’s chief operating officer, said. “Our HR team has been a critical part of the pandemic response, ensuring that agencies can quickly work together to accomplish common goals and address new challenges.”
“The centralization of labor relations functions has enhanced our ability to serve the residents of this state more efficiently and focused our efforts,” Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw said. “Rather than fragmenting people, expertise, and resources across each state agency, we are now able to maximize productivity by knocking down silos and taking advantage of specialization. We are already incredibly pleased with what we have accomplished and with additional time and training, we will continue to improve and help modernize Connecticut’s state government to meet the demands of today and tomorrow.”
“A value of Governor Lamont’s administration has been collaboration across state agencies,” Vannessa Dorantes, commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, said. “Not only does this lead to more efficient government, but most importantly, quality of service for our valued consumers – the citizens of the state of Connecticut. Centralizing human resources supports is one example of how this vision has been successful and can be used as a template for future efforts.”
“This effort has resulted in a team that has the ability to load balance work through a larger pool of talent, rather than forcing agencies to complete a significant amount of HR work with a small group of people and leaving other agencies with staff who would take on more,” Nick Hermes, the state’s chief human resources officer, said. “I want to thank the governor for his support, and the whole HR team who has worked tirelessly to ensure we move into a central organization smoothly, all while supporting agencies with the COVID-19 pandemic response. We couldn’t ask for a better team.”