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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Updated: Amy Trapp Claims HR an "Employee Advocate"

NorCo HR staffers
HR Director Amy Trapp updated Northampton County Council yesterday about what exactly she's been doing in the 369 days since she was first confirmed. The picture on the left tells you the story. She has relied heavily on her staff, and brought most of them to the meeting to introduce them and explain what they do.*  "Without them, nothing else happens," she said, noting these employees bring institutional knowledge and are trained in specialized areas. Most of her staff were at one time union workers, and she believes that perspective makes them invaluable.

Noting that there are 11 unions, all with their own contracts, she indicated her departments help managers to understand nuances in each contract to prevent disputes.

She indicated that the employee policy manual has been completely revised, but will be phased in gradually to make sure that employees and managers understand the policy.

Amy Trapp
"The big pieces for me are accessibility,credibility and ...engaging the employee population," she explained. She noted that employees are a "little nervous" at first, but it helps her understand what really goes on. Though she is part of management, she also views her role as being an "employee advocate."  She said employees may not like her answers, but she strives to ensure it is "good information." Grievances have been resolved more quickly, and no Unfair Labor Practice claims have been filed against the County since Trapp started what is now 370 days ago.

She also encourages training, and had five people get management certificates over the past year through Northampton Community College. There has been management training in Human Services, and it is scheduled to start at Public Works today.

She is changing personnel files from paper to electronic format  She wants to be able to maintain the information securely and wants some information in HR only, like social security numbers. .

She indicated managers must be aware of union contracts, career service regulations and constitutional rights that apply to public sector workers.

Trapp spoke about FMLA, jokingly calling it the "Friday Monday Leave Act." She said it is  the "single most abused benefit" among employees anywhere, in or out of government. She indicated that the answer is better training to assure compliance.

If an employee on worker's comp is released for limited duty, she finds something for the person, even if it is outside that worker's department.

Executive John Brown believes the training has made a difference,and has resulted in the quick resolution of employee grievances. He credited Trapp with having had a "significant impact" in curbing abuses that occur when policies are unclear. He also likes Trapp's responsiveness. "They are really here to be service vendors for our employees," which is a far cry from the way county employees have historically regarded  Human Relations.

One of the biggest changes Trapp made was to establish a Human Relations presence at Gracedale, which employs a third oft he County workforce. Trapp will explain what is going on there today.

Trapp also indicated that, as positions open up, she is attempting to address compression. But to do it all at once "would create confusion"  and be expensive.

* Pictured above are, from left to right, Courtney Kendzejeski, Gracedale Deputy Director; Brenda Gurst, Clerical Specialist; Lisa Getz, Recruitment Specialist; Stephanie Hann, Clerical Technician; Margaret "Peggy" Feely, Benefits Coordinator; Luke DeBoer, Labor Relations Officer; and Deputy Director Michael Twining (standing). The staff also includes HR Analyst Mark SchaefferHR Analyst Shawna Shriver; and Executive Secretary Nicole Beers.

(Orginally published at midnight and updated to identify HR Staff.)


Anonymous said...

It all sounds great...but its still favoritism at its best. Training?? Only special people get to do training. The training mentioned was never available to other staff. Its the same old story. Blow smoke up enough people and get them to do what you want but don't reward or acknowledge their work.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The training is for supervisory personnel, and happens gradually. But there is nothing to stop negative people from remaining that way.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like she's doing a good job so far! I love that supervisors are being given training and I hope those in my division will be taking advantage. Sadly, promotions often occur based on seniority and actual management skills are quite lacking over here.

Anonymous said...

Amy seems to be one of Brown's better hires. He struck out with his first pick for HR director, and Amy's circumstances just fell into his lap. Even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in awhile.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Brown has made a few good picks. Amy and Keen seem to be tag-teaming an effort to change the culture at the jail. Dave Dalrymple has been excellent. Jim Hunter is honest, even if it hurts Brown. Stan Rugis seems to be making a big difference in Public Works as well. Brown has made some really bad picks, too. Overall, I'd give him a C on his appointments.

Anonymous said...

She is an attractive lady. Can't tell from the picture but is she a big woman?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Amy is attractive, but that is more or less irrelevant to her ability to do the job.

Anonymous said...

Yea, her attractiveness has absolutely nothing to do with anything. Sexism at it's finest...

Bernie O'Hare said...


Anonymous said...

The HR staff also includes Clerical Specialist Lin Quick and Benefits Coordinator Laurie Chambers at the Gracedale location.

Anonymous said...

Congrats LD...you finally made the Ramblings...go Pack!

Judith Ryan Abramowicz said...

I think Amy and her staff took on a big job and have done well in trying to bring us into current times. Kudos to all their efforts!

Anonymous said...