SHRM Trains HR Workers on Competencies, Skills of the Future

As part of 1st phase of Single Employer Act, which allows transfers across agencies

SAN JUAN – It appears the government of Puerto Rico will soon fully implement the Single Employer Act (Ley del Empleador Único) as it begins one phase in the plan—the professionalization of government employees—through a series of workshops organized by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Under the Single Employer Act, the government will be able to transfer workers among the government’s 118 agencies, which before the law’s enactment, operated as separate employers with different administrative divisions and wages for the same occupations. The law was slated to be implemented for the Treasury Department in August 2017, was postponed.

Sandra Torres, head of the Office of Administration & Transformation of Government Human Resources, declined to say when the government would start implementing the Single Employer Act but noted that the workshops organized by the SHRM are part of the process. “That is part of the Single Employer Act,” she said.

SHRM Executive Director Ana M. Iglesias said that by providing the workshops to human resources officials in various government agencies, the SHRM is fulfilling its goal to prepare them for the future skills they are going to need in the workplace. The organization has been providing training every Tuesday.

The SHRM was teaching HR workers about the new competency model, which has been validated by studies. The SHRM model of competencies identifies what it takes to be a successful HR professional at all career levels, and in all job roles and job functions. The competencies include communication, business acumen, ethics and relationship management.

“This has been validated through a study done by 1,200 human resources officials and over 32,000 globally, so it gives it the strength to standardize what we seek in HR officials,” she said.

Although human resources officials in government are bound by regulations that often influence hiring processes, Iglesias said the competencies can be applied in all situations.

“Our goal is to bring this up to the sector because it is the global trend. We are going to be as good as the abilities we have,” she said. “These are competencies that deal with behavior and problem resolution,” she added.

Torres said the SHRM trainings have been of great assistance in improving the area of human resources but noted that the government administration has agreements with the University of Puerto Rico to enhance the course offering for human resources professionals and public workers.

She said that while most HR officials already have some of the competencies listed in the model, others are new. “These will empower the human resources professional,” she said.

Torres said the idea of using a competency model does not go against collective bargaining agreements or other laws regulating employment in the public sector. Human resources officials are not regulated by collective bargaining agreements and do not belong to unions.

“We are empowering the workers, providing the tools to better position them to even aspire to other positions,” she said.

SHRM represents some 285,000 members in more than 165 countries through its more than 575 affiliated chapters.

Over 4,000 Puerto Rico public employees take part in Voluntary Transition Program

Gerardo Portela, director of the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (Courtesy)

SAN JUAN – The executive director of Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF), Gerardo Portela, expressed satisfaction with the second phase of the government’s Voluntary Transition Program, according to a release issued by his office.

Portela said that during the past two months, around 4,500 public employees of the Retirement System (Government Employees and Judiciary Retirement Systems Administration and Teacher Retirement System), Education Department, Public Safety Department and Economic Development Department (including ascribed agencies) requested to participate in the program, which allows eligible workers to transition to nonprofit and non-governmental organizations or the private sector in exchange for a tax-free economic incentive.

The official mentioned that the requests are being evaluated and the government entities where the applicants work must approve or deny them by July 15. In the case of Highways and Transportation Authority employees, these have until Aug. 15 to request participation in the incentivized resignation program.

“The Voluntary Transition Program is a tool that allows us to reduce public spending in payroll…in a fiscally responsible manner and in a manner compatible with the public policy of our Administration,” Portela adds in the release.

The program’s first “phase” was carried out last fiscal year, when more than 2,165 public employees left government work.

Portela said new program phases aimed at government entities that are in the process of reorganization will be implemented in the coming months.

The retirement systems for government employees and teachers was extended until Nov. 30.

Puerto Rico gov’t reminds workers about its voluntary resignation program