Having a Human Resources officer to assist when things get a little messy at the work place can be the difference between settling a dispute and ending up in court. For employers and employees alike, knowing that there is a authority that can be a mediator if a difficult situation arises is very comforting.
By Melissa Anderson
Cavalier County has found their HR Director in Crystal Beggs, who also works for Ramsey County. Beggs was contracted through Ramsey County to assist at the courthouse with county policy and, if the need occurs, with employee disputes.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity the Cavalier County commissioners have given me to come work with them. I look forward to getting to know and working with all Cavalier County employees and building a strong HR department,” Beggs shared.
Begg’s explained that HR is an important employee-centered activity that happens in the background of business. One of HR’s important roles is assisting with federal and state law compliance. This can be a daunting task understanding which laws apply to a specific employer and keeping current.
“The Department of Labor alone has over 180 federal laws for an employer to potentially have to comply with,” Beggs said.
The second important role is resolving conflicts among employees. There will always be conflicts in the workplace, regardless of how satisfied employees are with their jobs, their department heads and their co-workers.
“Given the diversity of work styles, personalities, levels of experience and backgrounds of employees, it’s a given that arguments and disagreements will happen,” Beggs stated. “It is HR’s responsibility to help guide the employees back to a positive working relationship.”
Beggs gave examples of how HR can be a resource for reaching strategic goals within an organization. One way HR helps with success is by completing the development of methods that ensure high performance standards are met. This is done through assessments for the employees in order to determine the type of training and skills employees must have to properly and efficiently perform their duties. HR also assists with ensuring the county’s wages are competitive and realistic through studying and analyzing employment trends, the labor market and salaries.
“HR plays an important role behind the scenes of business operations. There is a delicate line between looking out for the best interest of a business while being a resource for employees,” Beggs added
At the Cavalier County Courthouse, some of the duties that will fall to Beggs are related to compliance of regulations. The regulations relating to FMLA, FLSA, benefit, and workers compensation federal and state compliance. Beggs will also assist department heads with annual reviews and job descriptions. HR duties go beyond compliance and assisting within departments as Beggs will also help with quarterly team building and leadership training, the hiring/termination process, grievances, advising department heads on disciplinary action, salary negotiations, and policy manual updates.
“Working in HR can sometimes be challenging – but it can also be immensely rewarding with the variety of work that comes into the department each day. I have the opportunity to contribute towards enhancing a business’s strategic goals, which is gratifying,” Beggs said. “I enjoy working with leaders, coaching them on improved communication skills, and on conflict prevention and resolution while at the same time doing my best to support the largest asset – the employee.”
Prior to working with Ramsey, and now Cavalier County, Beggs had extensive experience learning different perspectives on dealing with HR policy and issues within the state university system. Beggs has focused on the HR aspect of her career for the past 12 years, with her last position located at Mayville State University as the HR Director. Because of her position, she was able to be a voting member on the North Dakota University System HR Committee consisting of HR representatives from all 11 colleges in North Dakota.
“Being the HR Director at Mayville State University was a valuable learning experience in my career,” Beggs said.
From her perspective in the HR field, Beggs believes that, in general, businesses should always be proactive when it comes to HR. By being proactive, businesses will be better able to meet grievances head on as a poorly handled grievance can land in litigation quickly. It isn’t just being proactive about grievances but trying to avoid the grievances altogether by striving to make the work environment a great culture for employees that is important. Beggs has some pointers for employees of businesses as well.
“To employees, don’t be fearful of HR. HR is there to assist you with conflict resolution, grievances, medical leave needs, and career development, along with assisting leaders in making it a great culture for you to work in,” Beggs explained.
Looking back on how Beggs found her way into HR she feels extremely fortunate in how it fell into place. While she was earning her bachelor’s degree in business administration, her job consisted of HR generalist work. The supervisor she was working under had a master’s degree in HR. Beggs’s supervisor at that time coached and mentored her into the HR world. After receiving her bachelor’s degree and obtaining enough HR work experience, Beggs earned certification as a professional in Human Resources.
This is a field that also requires some continuing education. In order for Beggs to keep the certification from expiring, she must obtain 61 credits of HR professional development every three years. For those interested in a career in HR, Beggs has some great inside news to share. In the fall of 2019, Bottineau Dakota College will be providing an online HR certificate and associate in applied science degree. This is the first program of this nature to be offered in North Dakota.