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2019 Dynamic Dozen Top Human Resources Professional: Mailyn Jeffries

Human Resources Director, Greene County

Posted online

It takes more than just hiring employees and enforcing policies to be successful in human resources, especially in the government sector when coordinating with the community as well as elected officials.

Mailyn Jeffries, human resources director for Greene County, says human resources is more extensive than what people usually associate with the job.

“Probably the hardest part of my job is influencing decisions,” she says. “In HR, you kind of influence the C-suite, as you will, in making decisions. The hardest part is helping them make the decision that will benefit the most amount of people, mostly employees.”

One of Jeffries’ accomplishments is focusing on the wellness of employees. She established an employee wellness program at the start of 2019, called The Venture. It takes a holistic approach, focusing on physical, mental, financial and personal well-being of employees.

Jeffries, s Mexico, Missouri, native, says she just fell into human resources, after she came to school at Missouri State University, planning to go into advertising.

“After I went through those classes, I thought ‘nope,’ this isn’t something I want to do,” she says. “I got an internship with Associated Electric [Cooperative Inc.] following graduation in HR, and that’s how I became familiarized with it.”

Human resources at Greene County serves 875 employees, operating with an HR staff of seven, including Jeffries.

“We are probably the only department in the county that touches every single employee in some way, whether it’s through health insurance, workmen’s compensation or payroll,” she says. “Each employee has an encounter with HR at some point in their career.”

Jeffries serves as a mentor and coach in the department, meanwhile enabling them to make their own decisions.

“They bring direct issues to me and things that need my approval, but I really empower my staff to be experts in the area they are assigned to,” she says. “There’s no possible way as the director that I could be an expert in each area of HR. It’s just too vast.”

For that reason, Jeffries says her employees benefit greatly from having contacts within the community with HR experience in other areas besides government. She says the department works closely with community partners. She also serves as college relations co-chair on the Springfield Area Human Resources Association Board of Directors.

In today’s climate, there are challenges all HR departments are facing, sometimes but there’s even more in government.

In her role as director, Jeffries has learned to do more with less in finding qualified employees, because the county’s budget for job recruitment is $2,000 annually, or less. It’s restricted career advertisement to job boards, creative advertising and participation in job fairs or other events.

“It’s really difficult to attract new employees right now, because unemployment is so low,” she says.

“People are satisfied with their jobs. We don’t have competitive pay necessarily at the county, so we have to advertise the other benefits we have.”

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