Linetec People to Know: Jane Kessel

Q: Tell me about your job

Kessel-webA: As the head of HR, I’m responsible for developing and managing many different HR programs. Our team makes sure Linetec is supported with the people resources – number of people, skills and engagement – it needs to service our customers. This means I get involved in developing and implementing a wide range of recruiting initiatives, overseeing programs for our associates to make Linetec a great place to work, developing skills and retaining talent. My team also does lots of company-wide communication. We’re very big on communication at Linetec!

Lately I’ve been working on helping Linetec reorganize our structure to support company growth. Every day I’m doing something with hiring and recruiting. The cool thing is that every day is different. Some days we’re getting the critical tasks done like payroll processing or new hire orientation done. Other days we are planning recognition celebrations, planning training programs, working through a difficult employee problem, or developing policies to help the business run better and to ensure a good employment experience. Most people don’t realize it, but there is also a fair amount of financial and data management in HR and lots of software applications to oversee and manage – HRIS, time keeping, performance review, document management, etc.

I’m lucky to have a team of top-notch HR professionals who work hard to support our associates and managers. They make my job easier. Having been with Linetec for 16 years, I’ve seen the economy give us occasional ups and downs, but overall, Linetec has been mainly ups. With a lot of growth in the business, our customer base depends on our team of associates. It’s also been a tremendous opportunity for my personal growth, through both continuing education and lots of on-the-job experiences, including several assignments outside of HR. We have a very open door environment, so we get a lot of Linetec associates stopping in or calling with questions each day as well.

The laws that HR has to oversee change constantly, so I also need to make sure I’m staying current on any recent developments that could affect Linetec.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: Prior to Linetec, I was the HR manager at Greenheck for 10 years. Before that, I worked in HR for a general aviation company in Lincoln, Nebraska. I’ve worked in HR for almost 30 years. I started out in pay, benefits and payroll, and then moved into roles more focused on employee/labor relations, development and HR strategy.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: My best days are when I’m in direct interaction with Linetec associates – whether its working with them to address a question or concern, attending a fun company function, or just talking with them in the break room about what’s happening with their lives or their jobs. We have such amazing associates at Linetec. They are smart, engaged and really care about the company and our customers. The people really are the reason this is such a great place.

I’m also passionate about continuous improvement. I love new, challenging projects and feel really satisfied if we can put something in place that saves people effort, frustration or improves the experience people have interacting with HR. The best part of HR is that we have regular contact with all levels of the organization, our corporate headquarters and the community – we get involved in a lot interesting stuff!

Janek-6webQ: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A: The current low unemployment levels are a real challenge as we continue to grow and hire. There are just more jobs than people right now. Wisconsin unemployment is at an all-time low. It helps that we have a lot to offer compared to other companies – pay, benefits, culture, and that we are willing to train people from other industries. Linetec’s core values create a unique culture that really attracts people, but we also have to put a lot of time and effort into each hire to make sure they fit the Linetec values-based environment.

Q: Are there any trends that you are seeing more of lately?

A: There is a lot of technology being used in HR these days. It seems everything has an app. We continue to find ways to use technology to streamline processes, but also keep that personal touch that has made us successful. It’s an interesting balance.

People also look at their careers very differently than they did years ago. Associates and candidates want new challenges and lots of training and development. They won’t stay in the same job for many years the way prior generations did. This is exciting because we can employ people in different capacities. It also sometimes can be difficult to handle the movement in the company, and to provide the development and opportunities fast enough to meet everyone’s needs.

Q: What is something you are looking forward to?

A: Spring!

JaneK-3webQ: What is something people don’t know about you?

A: I’m a BIG University of Nebraska Cornhusker fan – that’s where I went to college. Actually, most people do know that about me. Also, I come from a big family. I grew up with 10 brothers and sisters. Family is important to me and I have a lot of it!

Q: If Linetec gave you a surprise three-day paid break to rest and recuperate, what would you do with those three days?

A: Golf, kayak, ride my bike and cook.

JaneK-webQ: What always cheers you up when you think about it?

A: My kids! I have a son and daughter – both grown and recently married. I’m very proud of them and their spouses. They are all talented, young professionals who bring a lot of fun and support to my life.


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