Brian L. Mortimore | Movers & Shakers 2020–Innovators

Brian Mortimore has always been drawn to human resources (HR)—matching the right employee to the right job and ensuring they’re taken care of once they sign on. He worked in medicine and higher ed before bringing his high ideals to Kent District Library (KDL) in 2003.

Sidsel Bech-Petersen

CURRENT POSITION

Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development, Kent District Library, MI

DEGREE

MA, Organizational Communications, Michigan State University, 1995

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BookmarkHR.com; thebestandbrightest.com

Photo by Bob Schatz

Putting the Human In HR

Brian Mortimore has always been drawn to human resources (HR)—matching the right employee to the right job and ensuring they’re taken care of once they sign on. He worked in medicine and higher ed before bringing his high ideals to Kent District Library (KDL) in 2003.

Since then, Mortimore has instituted medical care and prescription drug coverage for part-time staff, kept all health coverage costs stable, and maintained KDL’s pension plan at over 100 percent funding, with a generous match. KDL also offers employees student loan repayment assistance.

A dozen years ago, Mortimore and his team developed a new method of recruiting, training, and staffing that dramatically shortened how long, on average, a position stays open before someone is hired—from 56 days to one week. It also lowered the frequency of mis-hires, and reduced the time managers spend interviewing.

He has shared those outcomes through workshops and trainings, prompting numerous phone calls from library directors asking for help. "I imagined how many people join an organization or an industry only to discover it wasn’t a good fit," says Mortimore—and "how something as simple as a pre-employment screening test designed specifically for public libraries could improve the quality of hiring for libraries everywhere."

In 2018, with funding from KDL, research by Industrial Organizational Psychologists, and input from a network of library workers, Mortimore developed Bookmark, a customized pre-hire screening tool that helps organizations assess which candidates are most likely to succeed in patron-facing positions. Bookmark costs only $20 per assessment, and meets the same standards as similar tools in other industries. It measures 12 core competencies; its algorithmic approach also helps root out bias in the interview process, Mortimore says.

He believes there’s a right fit for every worker—and has been known to help struggling employees search and apply for jobs elsewhere, says KDL director Lance Werner (2018 LJ Librarian of the Year; 2016 Mover & Shaker).

HR departments get a bad rap, says Mortimore, often showing up only when there’s conflict. But HR staff are strategic partners. "What you’re doing, even if it doesn’t involve direct interaction with library patrons, will have a positive and indirect impact on those same people," he says. 

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