Detroit Zoological Society
  • Human Resources
  • Royal Oak, MI, USA
  • Full-time

The Director of Human Resources plans, directs and leads the organization's human resources and organizational effectiveness initiatives and programs. The Director of Human Resources develops and implements programs and procedures relating to organizational development and change strategy, employee relations and retention programs, benefit plan design and administration, recruitment, and wage and salary administration. The Director of Human Resources partners with the executive management of the organization to formulate business strategies associated with delivery of HR programs and organizational effectiveness initiatives. The Director of Human Resources also leads our Labor Relations activities.

The Director of Human Resources will support, both publicly and privately, the principles of the Detroit Zoological Society, maintain a professional manner when dealing with all constituencies, and always preserve a high level of confidentiality.

This job description is by no means all inclusive and may be subject to change during a performance period due to the needs of the Detroit Zoological Society and its leadership.  This document will be reviewed on a continual basis and will be modified as needed.

Authority and Accountability

The Director of Human Resources has the authority to carry out the job requirements and responsibilities and is accountable to the Chief Financial Officer.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities


  • Plans, directs, leads and evaluates the organization's human resource function and performance.
  • Participates in the development of the organization's strategic plans and programs as an internal consultant, particularly from the perspective of the impact on people. Translates strategic and tactical business plans into HR strategic and operational plans. Advises senior leadership of the impact of new programs/strategies as those items influence the attraction, motivation, development and retention of the people resources of the organization.
  • Continually assesses the competitiveness of all programs and practices against the relevant comparable organizations, industries and markets.
  • Works to maintain credibility throughout the organization in order to be an effective listener and problem solver of people issues for all employees. Provides facilitation services for teams and work groups.
  • Manages the budget and other financial measures of the Human Resources Department.
  • Leads the collective bargaining negotiations, grievances, and arbitrations as needed.
  • Supports, protects and promotes a positive supportive work environment for all employees.  Works toward the continual improvement of services and systems to meet the needs and exceed the expectations of employees, patrons, board members volunteers and the community.
  • Performs other duties as assigned.


  • Develops and implements staffing strategies to identify talent within and outside the organization for all positions. Manages the recruitment process.   Assists management in candidate selection. Recommends and negotiates salary offers. Extends employment offers and coordinates start date and orientation.
  • Benchmarks and tracks recruiting costs, including search firms, and ensures fiscal responsibility in these areas.
  • Coordinates employee transfers, promotions, terminations, and maintains related record systems.
  • Provides guidance and support to management in succession planning and job design.
  • Advises management regarding best practices, competitive trends, market rates, etc.
  • Conducts exit interviews with terminating employees when possible.

Employee Relations

  • Plans and implements a program for employee relations to prevent and mediate employee disputes.
  • Develops, writes, interprets and enforces policies.  Assists management with the interpretation of personnel policies.
  • Provides training and guidance to management in techniques to resolve disputes and improve employee relations.
  • Answers questions and resolves disputes from employees and management.
  • Guides management through employee disciplinary process including terminations.
  • Investigates sexual harassment claims, discrimination claims and other employee complaints.  Recommends action for resolution and enforces management decisions.

Compensation and Benefits

  • Develops progressive compensation and benefits programs to provide motivation, incentives and rewards for effective performance.
  • Evaluates competitive trends in compensation, employee demographics and budgetary conditions to recommend changes to the compensation program.  Reviews annual scale and implements adjustments. Performs job analysis to establish appropriate pay range for evaluated positions.
  • Coordinates annual compensation adjustments and other increases, guiding management to prevent problems with equity, compression, market competition, etc.  Evaluates pay rates for internal equity as requested.  Recommends pay rates for promotions, transfers and other rate change requests.
  • Manages design and delivery of all employee benefit plans.  Negotiates with vendors regarding benefit delivery and cost control. 
  • Oversees administration of FMLA, COBRA and Workers Compensation.
  • 401(k) Reconciles employee census data from internal payroll system to Plan vendor for purposes of discrimination testing and overall accuracy; ensures HR staff is executing administrative functions such as employee deferral elections, beneficiary designations, SPD distribution, change forms, etc; approves all plan withdrawals.

Organizational and Professional Development

  • Provides support for the development of an organizational learning culture. Measures the impact of training on key business outcomes using a variety of techniques.
  • Develops and implements planning models to identify competency, knowledge and talent gaps and develop specific programs for the filling of the gaps. This includes talent management through succession planning programs for key management positions, training and development programs for preparing employees for more significant responsibilities, and general business development programs to enhance employee knowledge and understanding of the business of the organization.
  • Designs and coordinates the performance evaluation process with the goal of facilitating employee growth and development. In collaboration with organizational leadership, identifies the performance expectations of the workforce that are needed to support strategic initiatives.
  • Coordinates special programs including incentive and recognition programs, orientation and employee engagement surveys.
  • Plans, designs and presents educational programs for management and staff in a cost effective manner using a variety of methods and technologies.  These include legal compliance training, team building programs, conflict resolution initiatives, customer service training, quality improvement processes and a variety of other professional development opportunities. 

Legal Compliance

  • Monitors employment practices for regulatory purposes and ensures compliance with all federal, state and local employment laws.
  • Educates management on legal compliance.
  • Documents and compiles statistics of employee relations and employment issues and cases
  • Manages employee separations.
  • Provides guidance with regard to legal contract issues with independent contractors. 
  • Manages Workers Compensation process and claims.
  • Responds to EEOC/MDCR charges and unemployment compensation claims.
  • Identifies problematic legal issues for referral to legal counsel.
  • Posts employment regulations at on and off-site locations.
  • Maintains confidentiality.

Working Conditions

Regular work schedule may include weekends, evenings, and early mornings.  This position may require overnight business travel. The work environment is generally comfortable and most work is indoors with exposure to computer monitors, air conditioning systems and fluorescent lighting.  The position may require work outdoors with exposure to seasonal weather conditions for special events, tours, openings, etc.

Physical Requirements

The individual must have the ability to perform the essential functions of the job satisfactorily. Requires moderate physical effort on a daily basis such as walking, bending, stooping, lifting, sitting and standing for an extended period of time. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable qualified individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities


  • Bachelor's degree in human resources or related field.
  • Must have at least 10 years of experience in a professional human resources position, with at least 7 years experience at the HR management level.
  • Minimum of 7 years managing human resources in a union environment is a must.
  • Significant experience working directly with all levels of management on strategic organizational issues is required.
  • Must demonstrate initiative, strong problem-solving, resolution and organizational skills, and be able to participate successfully in a fast-paced, constantly changing environment.
  • Ability to handle multiple priorities in stressful situations is essential. The ability to cope with the anger/fear/hostility of others in a calm manner is mandatory for this position.  Must be able to cope with confrontation, manage altercations, and assist with problem resolution. 
  • Must demonstrate a high degree of patience and flexibility. Must be able to adjust rapidly and smoothly between a variety of perspectives, viewpoints and roles.
  • Must be forward-thinking and have high ethical standards, an appropriate professional image, and the ability to build trust.
  • Should have sound knowledge, analytical ability, good judgment and strong "big-picture" strategic focus while simultaneously maintaining an operational, implementation and detail oriented perspective. This position requires a self-directed, "politically savvy" viewpoint.
  • Must be articulate and be able to relate to people at all levels of an organization and possesses excellent communication skills.
  • Must be able to function as a good educator who is trustworthy and willing to share information and serve as a mentor.
  • Facilitation skills are essential to this position.
  • Must have diverse experiences in managing a range of administrative areas of responsibility.
  • Must be able to operate in a PC network environment, and should have detailed hands-on experience with Microsoft Office Suite, and basic internet navigation skills.


  • Master's degree preferred. 
  • SPHR or similar professional level certification


Detroit Zoological Society
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