ARSHRM - Arkansas SHRM State Council

Promoting and Serving
the Human Resource Profession in Arkansas

SHRM -  Society for Human Resources Professionals

2012 Best HR Practice
Award Recipient - Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams, 2012 Best HR Practice Award Recipient

Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH) is a privately held LLC based out of North Little Rock, Ar. They have four other locations throughout the United States in Texas, Tennessee, Indiana and Louisiana. They are an Environmental Consulting company founded by four partners in 1997. Since then, they have grown to over 100 employees throughout the five locations. CTEH provides toxicology and human health consulting services to the public and private sectors. They pride themselves on providing highly technical and highly responsive professionals to evaluate and develop solutions to a wide variety of human health and environmental issues. More information about CTEH can be found at

The majority of CTEH’s work is project based therefore travel is an essential function of almost every employee. Due to each employee’s excessive travel, CTEH fell victim, as many companies do, to time management issues which contributed to a quickly growing gap in many of their employee related and administrative functions. The biggest of these were their Human Resources initiatives.

Such little importance was put on HR that HR functions were ran by the accounting department until they finally had enough and whipped their hands clean. From there, HR was still a low priority interest to the company. Within the past four years, CTEH has had four different HR managers. HR was deemed an “overhead cost” and little attention was paid to any initiatives made by the different managers ‐until the strategic formation of a business unit within the organization.

CTEH identified a problem within their company and transformed from an organization led by the founding partners to a strategic organizational alignment including a CEO, CFO, Board of Directors and an HR Director.

Since May 2011, with the hiring of an HR Director and an HR Generalist, CTEH has made significant improvements in every fundamental area of HR. The HR Generalist is a National SHRM member and uses those resources to help shape the HR initiatives developed and pursued within the HR department. Some of the initiatives completed by the HR Department include, but are not limited to, a formal recruitment process, a new hire orientation process, an updated employee manual, document retention policies, implementation of a new payroll provider, implementation of e‐Learning software, yearly employee performance evaluation, a learning and development program, a formal vehicle policy, a travel and reimbursement policy, a company intranet, a headcount report, and development of KPI’s for the HR department that have a direct impact on business data. These changes alone are not what make CTEH stand out as a Best Practice company – every company can or should have processes and documents like these. What makes the company stand out is their willingness to accept these changes and their desire to see more.

Where many companies meet conflict or resistance when trying to implement or change already existing norms, CTEH’s HR department has run into “Thank you’s” and “What’s Next?” The entire organization has opened their arms to the more dominant role of the HR department.

Managers are filling their vacant roles quicker, employee’s find more approachable outlets for problems or concerns, there is rising respect level between “billable” employees and the “non‐billable/overhead” employees, managers thrown into management roles in the midst of emergency responses are being accurately trained for how to handle both professional and personal issues that will arise with their direct reports, costs of expenses are declining with the creation of formal policies, problem employees are being properly disciplined and re‐trained, and executive management has a resource for what to do and what not to do regarding employee relations.

When concerns do arise, HR now has a seat at the executive table to explain and provide guidance for why measures should or should not be taken. Volunteerism within the organization has skyrocketed from almost zero to 50% of the organization donating time or money to the community. The learning and development monthly presentations are hitting attendance rates as high as 90% each month including those that are out in the field, finding time to log in and watch remotely. Payroll discrepancies have significantly decreased creating a great trust between employees and HR.

The bottom line is that without the organization’s willingness to accept, none of those examples would be possible. CTEH has designed the perfect alignment to continue to grow and thrive as a successful business within the scientific field.