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Cindy Luoma joined the RJM team in December. Here she shares with Marketing Manager Maria Manske aspects of her role and RJM initiatives, the current employment environment, and what makes an HR department effective.  

What are some of the things that attracted you to the Director of Human Resources role at RJM?   

There were a few strong attractors for me. In my job search, I was looking for signs that the company ‘walked the talk’ so to speak. When I interviewed for the role, it became evident that RJM is a people-focused organization with a clearly stated vision of growth that involves employee input, and not just top-down decision-making. I have learned through my career experiences that when leaders do not demonstrate their values and are disconnected from employees, needless problems can develop. While no organization is perfect, RJM’s values are aligned with these principles. 

Companies that focus on the right things see clear business results through customer satisfaction. RJM’s client engagement and professional development initiatives, community stewardship, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives lay the foundation (among other things) for moving in a positive direction! All of this sends me the message that I am in the right place, and I am excited to be a key contributor to our efforts.  

We are in a competitive market. What do you think sets RJM apart from other general contractors?   

Smart, profitable companies know that investment in people drives better business outcomes and that individual growth is an important benefit to employees and contributes to increased job satisfaction. The idea that employees come first – take care of them and they will take care of the customer – has proven to be true time and time again.  

You have said that the construction industry has some of the most creative and hardest working people you’ve worked with. Can you expand on that?  

From the office to the field – the tradesmen and women, project managers, engineers, coordinators, executives, estimators, safety, and quality teams – it takes the entire team to make a structure or renovation come to life (not to mention that these people do not always simply stop at 5:00 p.m.). Construction teams are often constantly thinking about how to do the job more efficiently and with quality that will last for years to come. They know that people’s lives depend on the quality of their work. They are committed to success in what can be an ever-changing environment.  

Over the past two years, in what ways has the pandemic affected your role as a human resources leader and the way you approach your job?  

The pandemic, as well as social unrest, has affected my mindset and the way I work personally and professionally. I have learned and adjusted to working remotely when I’ve much preferred ‘in office’ most of my career. I have helped navigate changing COVID-19 mandates, policy, and day-to-day administration which is a job in and of itself. The pandemic also has caused many to have to deal with being overwhelmed and feeling confused, so while assisting with the needs of employees, I’ve also had to maintain my own well-being. This provided opportunities to engage speakers and other professionals to assist the workforce with resources. 

I have learned that out-of-the-box thinking is required to recruit and retain staff during these times. As an HR professional it is important to adapt quickly, be open to better ways of doing things, and most important, always have an empathetic ear for staff. The pandemic has shifted our routines in every aspect of our lives, and it is important to know about the resources and options available for the team.  

What are you looking forward to in 2022? 

I look forward to being a strong business partner in my role as Director of HR at RJM. As with many businesses right now, recruiting and retention are high priorities. Additionally, there are three RJM employee committees I will oversee – DEI, Employee Engagement & Wellness, and Professional Development. It will be fun to engage with these groups to address ways to add value to all our staff.  

What else would you like to share about your experiences? 

I know that to do my job well I need to go out there and meet employees where they are at. Having multiple perspectives is key. I enjoy going on job sites to meet the smart men and women managing and performing the work, as well as job shadowing in the office. In my career I have gotten dirty in paper mills, been inside boilers (where you roll in through some sludge, not walk), on roofs and crazy swing ladders (while safety-approved, not my favorite), 5S’d diesel mechanic shops, tool storage rooms – as well as the HR gig. ????  I’m excited to be here and learn how we do our work to delight our customers in the office and field at RJM!  

Finally, I would like to add that people tend to have different ideas about the role of HR in a company. To me it is two-fold; a balance between protecting both employee and company interests. Also, I do not see myself as what might be considered a ‘typical’ HR person and that has been confirmed by the feedback from staff members through the years. HR is not just about creating policy and enforcing prohibitive rules. Effective HR is about putting the ‘human’ in people interactions and being equitable and fair. My door is open, my phone is on, and my ears are listening! 

Learn more about our team.

Smart, profitable companies know that investment in people drives better business outcomes and that individual growth is an important benefit to employees and contributes to increased job satisfaction.

– Cindy Luoma, Director of Human Resources