The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) met again in 2017, representing 285,000 members in more than 165 countries. Among them, our very own Lori Lemme. Lori has been our representative at these conferences many times during her 7 years with ELCO Mutual. We thought it would be a good opportunity to take a fresh look at the past, present, and future of our “Department of One”.
A dinner engagement 7 years ago gave birth to Lori Lemme’s new career with ELCO. She left her position at a media advertising company where she handled a variety of jobs, including HR. Her ongoing philosophy of motivating people through leadership and engagement, is serving us well. We asked Lori what keeps her department of one going. This is where her fresh look took us, and I quote. “Every day is something different. I get great satisfaction seeing people’s strengths developed. I have learned that it takes three things when hiring. Are they teachable, are they driven, and do they have people smarts”? Hiring can be about industry knowledge but in most instances it is a cultural fit according to Lori. We are a people company. ELCO wants their employees to succeed through education and opportunity. If we need to fill a position that requires more industry knowledge, we have the confidence to fill that need from within. Lori said that a position in HR includes having a willingness to walk a fine line between advocating for both employee and company. In the business of HR you also have to be willing to show all company employees that you are human.
Lori helped us take a look at the future for human resources. When she started attending conferences with SHRM, she felt like a fish out of water. How did a smaller company like ELCO Mutual fit in with the larger companies? When you add in the fact that the attendance for one of these conferences is around 15,000, it could be overwhelming. Lori reached out to conference leaders and other conference attendees for help. She was flooded with emails from others feeling the same way, and someone took notice. Conference organizers recognized that Lori had hit upon something and set aside a separate room for those fish out of water. Today, the tank is full. Out of the entire SHRM membership, 9,000 are now part of their “Department of One” community. You see, thanks to Lori, that new message board is for anyone that wants to throw out an idea or ask questions about something their company may be going through. SHRM has even developed a new session for HR departments and companies that are smaller. This boost has allowed Lori the opportunity to bring back new ideas. Ideas for overhauling employee evaluations, tweaking SWOT Analysis procedures (analysis to help develop a strong staff strategy). To our great benefit here at ELCO, condensing the talent gap between the executive and regular staff by developing a middle management staff, came out of that strategic plan. Trending, is talk about flexible work weeks and schedules, and how this profits the company and brings balance to its employees.
Our Human Resource Department staffed by the one and only Lori Lemme, is in the business of motivation, development of leadership and engagement skills, overseeing various aspects of employment and employment standards, employee benefits, and aspects of recruitment. Lori is to be credited with taking charge of our education program and the many designations our staff has attained. Perhaps the title for this article should be changed to “One Department for All”?