Employees of Lansdale Borough, present and future, now have a document that outlines the guidelines, policies and procedures that impact their employment — a personnel policy manual.
Yet the policy does more than that — it now guides the borough manager as it relates to management of that personnel in the borough.
Borough council last week unanimously adopted the 79-page policy manual, which is a major facet of the recently completed human resources study by N.J. Hess Associates of Hummelstown, PA.
Before now, there was no human resources management system in Lansdale Borough.
Borough Manager Timi Kirchner presented the final version of the policy manual to council last week. Kirchner said that, under the borough code, the management of personnel falls under the authority of the borough manager.
"This makes complete sense, as it ensures the personnel function remains under professional administration and out of the political arena," Kirchner said.
She said the personnel policy assures no nepotism in the borough — no preferences will be given to close family of borough employees, elected officials or anyone closely associated with Lansdale. Staff is hired, she said, because they are qualified for the position, based on demonstrative knowledge, skills and abilities related to their job.
"However, no matter how efficient a borough manager is relative to the management of personnel, there should be a human resources system that guides the manager, and assures council, the public and the staff, that the management of such is indeed done professionally and done according to the laws that govern human resources," she said. "The overarching policy necessary for that guidance has not been in place in this borough."
Name it, and the policy has it: Lansdale’s values, commitment to excellence and administration of polices; the procedures of employment selection, medical exams, employee orientation, Whistleblower Law, ethics and resignation; compensation and work hours, including procedures for inclement weather, overtime and time off policy; employee benefits, like insurance, workers’ compensation, retirement, disability leave and sick leave; employee conduct, such as violence in the workplace, personal appearance, use of pepper spray and harassment; and disciplinary procedures.
"The adoption of manual gives council the assurance that the authority rightfully held by the borough manager is now guided by a document," Kirchner said. "First and foremost ... the manual sets the expectation that our goal at the borough is to provide the highest level of service to the citizens of Lansdale Borough. It is the effort, enthusiasm and loyalty that distinguish our contributions toward that goal."
Kirchner said the manual is the result of "signficant borough employee input" from the beginning of its development to now.
The borough employees, she said, developed core competencies that every employee must have and continue to develop as he or she works for Lansdale.
"These core competencies will be worked on every single year by all of us, so we get better and better and better," Kirchner said. "They also say to everyone 'This is what we expect by our employees.'"
Here are those core competencies:
- Application of Expertise – Application of specialized knowledge, training and job expertise to decision making and judgment.
- Big Picture Thinking – Understanding how different parts and functions of the organization fit together and create a sense of purpose for the team.
- One Team Thinking – The willingness to work with other groups and departments to achieve organization goals, as demonstrated by the “We Are All in This Together” approach to work.
- Customer Service – Understanding and anticipating customer wants and resolving customer needs.
- Creative Thinking – Finding ways to make things happen by looking at a problem from different angles and going beyond the obvious answer.
- Adaptability – The ability to stay open to change and adapt one’s approach as the requirements of a situation change.
Kirchner said the manual guarantees many other points:
- It complies with all contracts entered into by council with the unions and all applicable state, federal and local laws
- It ensures confidentiality in administration of personnel policies and action along with clarity of expectation for all employees
- It contains job descriptions for every job within Lansdale; the descriptions inform the borough of the jobs being done and to the hiring of new employees.
- It ensures a well thought-out performance review process is in place.
"This process will promote continuous improvement of employee talent and skills and is essential to the ongoing employee-to-employee and management-to-employee conversations throughout the year," Kirchner said. "This performance review process is supported with dollars for training in the budget of every department."
Kirchner called the adoption of the personnel policy manual a "significant moment" for Lansdale.
"(It is) yet another step toward this borough not only operating like a business, but also promoting the highest level of services to our residents," she said.