I'd like to introduce Chrissy Fratzel, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Corporate Training at Claremont Savings Bank. She is an expert in her field, and has been with her current organization for the past 14 years. Have you ever thought about how someone starts their professional career, or what services they offer?
Let's ask the expert.
How did you start?
I have a bachelor’s degree in child development. In a previous life, I taught first grade. After moving from one side of the country to another, I realized my timing was off; the teaching roles had already been decided for the school year, so I was forced to find something else. While I loved helping form young minds as an elementary classroom teacher, I fell into an industry that I love just as much. I started my career at a temporary staffing agency; I sent temporary daycare teachers to daycare centers for daily and weekly assignments. From there, I found my way in to an HR Assistant role at a top-ten law firm in Boston. I was eager to learn, so I absorbed as much as I possibly could from day one at the law firm. I quickly rose from HR Assistant to Benefits Coordinator to Benefits Manager within my five years there. After the birth of my first child, my family life took priority, which resulted in a move to another state and two years off to focus on being a mom. I realized staying home wasn’t for me, and I moved into the very delicate world of balancing full-time motherhood and a full-time career. Because of my two year hiatus, I had to start at the beginning of an HR career, but it was 100% okay with me. I spent two years refreshing my HR experience before moving on to my forever home as an HR professional in the world of banking. In my current organization, I started as a Payroll and Benefits Coordinator. From there I was promoted to a HR Generalist role, a Senior HR Generalist, a VP of Human Resources, and finally to the SVP of Human Resources and Corporate Training.
I love building relationships and helping people, which keeps my frame of mind set to servant leadership. I work with employees from entry level to executive and from the beginning to the end of their careers. It’s rewarding to watch people grow, to help them through challenges, to urge people to step outside of their comfort zones, and to celebrate with them through triumphs. I cannot imagine any career other than Human Resources now.
What services do you offer?
I like to joke and say, “We are full-service HR.” It’s not actually a joke though, we walk people through work challenges on a regular basis. However, we often times guide people to the right resources for personal challenges. We offer benefits like medical insurance and employee assistance plans; when employees are in a personal crisis, we are often who they come to for guidance on the services we offer as their employer.
When should an employee reach out to you?
Human Resources is often the department that gets called for everything. I learned very early in my career to know who my resources are; while HR might not be able to help, they can often point people in the right direction.
Employees should reach out to HR for any employment related questions (pay, date of hire, date of last pay change, insurance benefit questions, 401(k) questions, etc.) Employees should also contact HR if they are struggling with a manager, employee, or colleague relationship. Unless the struggle involves an HR investigation, they will coach the employee on how to handle the situation; HR believes in the power of advocating for yourself and your professional role. It’s HR’s role to guide you through those difficult conversations; we push you out of your comfort zone, so you grow in the areas of self-awareness, self-confidence, communication, and collaboration.
If you feel like you are being threatened or harassed in any way, talk to your trusted HR professional immediately. Not only will he or she step in right away, but he or she will ensure that there is no retaliation for a complaint made in good faith.
What is a common misconception in your field?
That’s a difficult question to answer. I think, in a lot of ways HR professionals have a reputation for taking themselves very seriously and being fun killers (think Toby from the office). We’re not all like that. While we all take employment law very seriously, we are people and employees too. Introverts and extroverts exist in every department. Build a relationship with your HR professionals, and you will learn they actually do like to have fun.
What is the best advice you would give to your employee?
- Always assume positive intent.
- When in doubt, ask the question. If we don’t know the answer, we will find it for you or point you in the direction of someone who knows the answer.
- Actively practice the skill of confidence. Don’t sit in discomfort for two years because your office mate clicks his or her pen when he or she is thinking (insert any other distracting/annoying behavior here). Sure, the two-minute conversation will be uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as being upset for two years. I can almost guarantee that your co-worker has no idea that you are bothered by his or her habit.
- Take advantage of learning opportunities.
- When you have downtime, ask if there’s anything you can do to help others. We love to see initiative.
- Enjoy work. While your work should be taken seriously, you don’t always need to take yourself seriously. Form relationships at work, and take time to learn to enjoy the people you are with more than you are with your family.
What areas do you currently serve customers?
HR serves every employee in the organization.
Do you suggest that an employee schedules an appointment for your services?
We don’t always need an appointment. However, I suggest getting to know your HR professional’s preference. Do they like drop-ins or should you send a quick message first?
What is a fun fact about you?
I love to listen to comedy central radio or a funny podcast on my drive home. Laughter instantly makes me happy; I love to walk into my house after a day of work in a good mood.
What is your greatest success story?
In my professional life, I am living my success story. Early in my HR career, I set a goal to be an HR Leader. I am both living and loving it!
In my personal life, I have raised two amazing kids that know the value of hard work, determination, volunteerism, kindness, love, and laughter. Sometimes, I look at them and think, “Wow! I actually created these fantastic humans.”
Chrissy Fratzel is not affiliated with Claremont Financial Services or LPL Financial Services.