Joellen Cademartori, CEO and co-owner of GovHR USA, discusses succession planning and ensuring continuity amid employee turnover during a Sept. 23 webinar, the first of the Massachusetts Municipal Human Resources association’s two-part Fall Conference series.

The Massachusetts Municipal Human Resources association held its annual Fall Conference virtually as a two-session webinar series.

The series kicked off on Sept. 23 with a municipal employer branding workshop led by Suzi Robinson, founder of the brand strategy firm brand2x. Robinson gave an overview of the components of a brand, and explored why branding is important for municipal human resources departments trying to attract and retain employees. When employers have dedicated branding strategies in place, she said, cost and time to hire are reduced, a better-qualified, diverse candidate pool is attracted, and employee engagement and retention are improved.

Robinson discussed techniques that municipal HR departments can employ to build their employer’s brand. She stressed the importance of getting buy-in from municipal leadership in branding efforts and focusing on consistent story-telling through internal channels like the municipal website and external channels like job boards.

The first webinar of the series also featured a discussion about succession planning led by Joellen Cademartori, CEO of GovHR USA. Cademartori discussed the importance of succession planning and the components of a succession plan. She explained the importance of starting the succession planning process with an analysis of the current workforce, and discussed a number of tools to conduct this analysis.

Cademartori also discussed the importance of assessing the potential, readiness, and interest level of the current workforce to fill key vacancies, and demonstrated tools that can be used to make these assessments. She also discussed the importance of employee development and retention plans for succession planning.

The second webinar, on Sept. 30, opened with a session on the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act and its implications for municipal employers led by attorney Maura McLaughlin, a partner with Morgan, Brown, and Joy. McLaughlin discussed some key points of the law, including how wages are defined and what is considered comparable work.

McLaughlin also discussed how employers can use the guidance from the Attorney General’s Office, issued in 2018, to ensure that they are following the law. McLaughlin detailed how employers can conduct a self-evaluation of practices and procedures that determine and affect compensation in order to ensure compliance with the MEPA.

The final session of the webinar series featured a discussion with Newton North High School Principal Henry Turner about engagement and retention of a diverse workforce. Turner explained what anti-racist leadership in an organization looks like, and how leaders can demonstrate a commitment to equity. He explained that engagement and retention of a diverse workforce starts with an organization-wide commitment to equity, starting with the recruitment and hiring process.

Turner emphasized the importance of organizational culture in the retention of a diverse workforce. Some action steps that he identified for employers include supporting affinity groups, developing professional development plans for staff of color, incorporating diverse lenses, and sharing employee retention data.

Turner also encouraged employers to move away from the “best fit model” of hiring, and instead focus on hiring employees that will add to the culture of the organization.

About 115 human resources professionals registered for the Fall Conference. The registration fee includes access to the webinar recordings and any followup materials. The recordings are available only to those who paid for the series.

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