March 15, 2021
“When COVID-19 first hit in March 2020, it became obvious that it would be necessary to establish new business processes to respond to the new business environment,” said Scott Morgan, Director of Human Resources for the City of Waterbury, Connecticut. Morgan and HRIS Manager Laurel Webb were two of five panelists in a coast-to-coast tour of public sector responses to the pandemic, one of the highlights of Infor’s Gov21 Virtual Summit last month.
“I know from experience that a lot of people don’t say thanks for what you do,” JD Williams, Infor Director of Industry & Solution Strategy told an audience of public sector professionals. So “we’re saying thanks for what you’ve done for your citizens this past year, and what you’re going to do as you face the challenges of this coming year.”
Delivering on short notice
Like every public sector organization, the early stages of the pandemic forced Waterbury to adapt and innovate on extremely short notice. “We quickly realized the associated costs were going to be very high,” Morgan recalled—and that those costs would have to be tracked accurately to facilitate future reimbursements from federal agencies.
With so many employees and K-12 students working from remote locations, Infor enabled the city to track and monitor employee training and develop new ways of delivering education. Waterbury’s existing web-traced training tool adapted seamlessly to remote learning, allowing the HR department to track employees’ progress and issue exception reports when they were needed. And when the city introduced a voluntary vaccination policy, Infor allowed HR staff to monitor compliance until all 4,800 employees had signed off.
“We’ve really leveraged the power of Infor to help us develop some new work management processes and procedures to maximize our ability to properly use our workforce during the pandemic, track what’s being done, then report out on what’s not been done,” Morgan said. “We’ve been very successful at it so far, and we’ve learned a lot of new things that we can take into the future because I think remote learning, training, and working will be the way ahead.”
Tracking every step
Webb described the hands-on processes of using Infor to implement the city’s policies and track employees’ responses. When a new policy was issued in hard copy, she uploaded it into a Lawson stream, then created the secondary transactions as acknowledgments came back.
“This allows us to quickly track and have a hard record in our system that a certain policy was issued, not only with our COVID policy but with any of our city-issued policies,” she explained. “Going forward, I can see this becoming more the norm.”
The system really shone when it came to tracking employee training. Waterbury had been running safe personnel programs for several years, covering mandatory topics like pandemic flu and illness prevention, and relied on Lawson as its system of record. This year, Webb said she’s looking forward to shifting that activity to Birst.
The tracking process became that much more complicated—and even more mission-critical—when Waterbury had to use it to track employee leaves due to the pandemic. Leave allowances and compensation varied with the type of absence, employees often moved in and out of different leave categories, and it was essential to track that activity accurately for both HR and payroll purposes, Webb said. Once again, Infor delivered.
“Ultimately, it’s our responsibility to make sure our employees are paid correctly,” she told participants, “and we take that very, very seriously.”
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