Blank Park Zoo
Blank Park Zoo

Open Daily, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
$18 adults, $12 children

View All Rates ›

Open Daily, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
$18 adults, $12 children

View All Rates ›

People and Culture (HR) Specialist

Date Posted
October 4, 2023
Full Time

Job Details

FLSA Classification: Nonexempt
Reports to: Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Department: Operations

The Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa is a non-profit organization and home to more than 2,800 animals representing nearly 240 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and is fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The mission of the Blank Park Zoo is to inspire an appreciation of the natural world through conservation, education, research and recreation.

Position Purpose

Under the direction of the VP/COO, supports the overall human resource functions of the Zoo including services, policies, and programs related to recruitment, performance management, employment and compliance, employee orientation and training, policy development and documentation, compensation and benefits, employee safety and wellness, and diversity and inclusion.  Additionally, the People and Culture (HR) Specialist supports our Zoo Mission which is to inspire an appreciation of the natural world through conservation, education, research, and recreation. 

Essential Functions

Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform these essential functions.

  • Build and cultivate strong partnerships with all levels of the organization, utilizing people-focused strategy and execution to ensure a high-performing, engaged workforce.
  • Provide advice and counsel to managers and employees on all conflict resolution, performance-related issues, performance management, and professional development.  Conduct thorough investigations of complaints or concerns. 
  • Monitors and advises managers and supervisors in the progressive discipline system of the Zoo. Monitors the implementation of a performance improvement process with non-performing employees.
  • Make recommendations for proactive measures/solutions to address opportunities and trends impacting operations and employee experience.
  • Establish and lead recruiting and hiring efforts and establish relationships with external sources such as universities, professional organizations, and community resources to source candidates. 
  • Partners with management to communicate HR policies, procedures, programs, and laws.
  • Administrator of the employee management system, including entering new employee information, updating information and developing programs to track data and utilize the system to its fullest potential.
  • Foster an employee-oriented culture that emphasizes inclusion, continuous improvement, strong communication, a growth mindset and innovation.
  • In conjunction with the VP/COO, develops and monitors an annual budget that includes HR services, employee recognition, and employee benefits.
  • Establishes departmental measurements and produces reports that support the accomplishments of the Zoo’s mission and strategic goals.
  • Coordinates employee training and professional development programs including orientation, leadership development, HR policies, employee management techniques, and programs or activities to reinforce the Zoo’s SWEET values. 
  • Reviews, guides and approves management recommendations for employee terminations.
  • Leads the implementation of company safety and health programs. Monitors the tracking of OSHA-required data.
  • In coordination with the CEO, VP/COO, and CFO, evaluate the Zoo’s wage and salary structure, pay policies, and overall variable pay system. Researches compensation benchmarks for all positions.
  • With the assistance of the CEO, VP/COO, and CFO, obtain cost-effective, employee-serving benefits annually. Leads the development of benefit orientations, training, and overall benefit administration.
  • Leads company compliance with all existing governmental and labor legal and government reporting requirements including any related to the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Department of Labor, worker compensation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and so forth. Maintains minimal company exposure to lawsuits.
  • Directs the preparation of information requested or required for compliance with laws. Approves all information submitted. Serves as the primary contact with the company employment law attorney and outside government agencies.
  • Manages employee communication and feedback through such avenues as company meetings, suggestion programs, employee satisfaction surveys, newsletters, employee focus groups, one-on-one meetings, and Intranet use.
  • Participates on teams and committees and leads meetings as required. 
  • Adheres to and enforces Zoo’s policies and procedures, as outlined in the Employee Handbook.
  • Applies and exemplifies “green” (sustainable) practices whenever possible.
  • Other duties as assigned.



  • Resourceful – Understanding of or ability to research all applicable topics as they relate to employment law and compliance, modern zoological management, operations of an attraction, and customer service.
  • Flexible – Ability to handle a flexible workload with a variety of assignments while also maintaining composure in an environment that can be stressful.
  • Independent – Must be able to operate independently, exercise initiative, and demonstrate a capacity for detail and follow-up.
  • Positive – Must be a positive, effective team member and be able to establish professional working relationships.
  • Supportive – Ability to maintain a supportive and open work environment.
  • Communicator – Communicates clearly and effectively, both verbal and written, in a variety of settings and audiences.  Effective listening skills.
  • Confidential - Ability to exercise discretion and maintain the confidentiality of information such as personal employee information, guest credit card information, etc.
  • Analytical - Ability to review and assess reports and other information to plan and assess progress in meeting goals, budgets, etc. 
  • Efficient – Ability to complete tasks in a thorough but quick manner with constant interruptions.
  • Innovative – Ability to propose solutions to areas of concern with limited resources and take initiative to implement them
  • Coach – Values a culture of positive mindset and serves as an advisor to employees on a wide variety of topics.
  • Team Player – Collaborates with supervisor, leadership team, and other departments to achieve common goals.

Supervisory/Management Responsibilities

 May supervise volunteers or interns. 

Work Environment

While performing the duties of the job, the incumbent is regularly required to sit and work at a desk for extended periods of time, stand, walk, and utilize manual dexterity to use a computer mouse and keyboard and other office equipment. The incumbent may be required to travel to other locations and to meetings. The noise level is quiet to moderate.  While performing the duties of the job, the incumbent is regularly required to stand, walk on uneven terrain, climb, and utilize manual dexterity to use various tools, machines, and equipment. The incumbent may be exposed to all types of weather conditions including extreme heat and cold, snow, hail, wind, and rain to travel to other areas of the facility or for meetings. Incumbents may occasionally be exposed to noisy environments such as mowers, motors, and music. 

Physical Requirements
The physical requirements described are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of the job.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to successfully perform essential functions. 

Ascending or descending ladders, stairs, scaffolding, ramps, poles and the like.

☐ Never          ☒ Occasionally         ☐ Constantly   

Moving self in different positions to accomplish tasks in various environments including tight and confined spaces.
☐ Never          ☒ Occasionally         ☐ Constantly

Remaining in a stationary position, often standing or sitting for prolonged periods.
☐ Never          ☐ Occasionally         ☒ Constantly

Moving about to accomplish tasks or moving from one worksite to another.
☐ Never          ☐ Occasionally         ☒ Constantly

Adjusting or moving objects up to 10 pounds in all directions.
☐ Never          ☐ Occasionally          ☒ Constantly

Communicating with others to exchange information.
☐ Never          ☐ Occasionally         ☒ Constantly

Repeating motions that may include the wrists, hands and/or fingers.
☐ Never          ☐ Occasionally          ☒ Constantly

Operating machinery and/or power tools.
☐ Never         ☒ Occasionally          ☐ Constantly

Operating motor vehicles or heavy equipment.
☐ Never         ☒ Occasionally          ☐ Constantly

Assessing the accuracy, neatness and thoroughness of the work assigned.
☐ Never        ☐ Occasionally          ☒ Constantly

☐ Never        ☒ Occasionally           ☐ Constantly

Stooping, kneeling, crouching, or crawling –
☐ Never         ☒ Occasionally          ☐ Constantly

Reaching with hands and arms.

☐ Never          ☐ Occasionally         ☒ Constantly

Tasting or smelling.

 ☐ Never         ☒ Occasionally         ☐ Constantly


☒ Close vision;  ☒Distant vision;  ☒ Color vision;  ☒ Peripheral vision;  ☒Depth perception;  ☒ Ability to adjust focus

Lifting Requirement.
☐ > than 50 pounds       ☒ Up to 50 pounds        ☐ Up to 40 pounds        ☐ Up to 25 pounds        ☐ Up to 10 pounds

Required education and experience

  • Minimum of a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in Human Resources, Business, or Organizational Development. Three years of human resources experience is preferred. Specialized training in employment law, compensation, organizational planning, organization development, employee relations, safety, training, and preventive labor relations is preferred.
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office and Google Suite or ability to obtain.
  • Previous HR/Payroll systems experience or ability to obtain. 

Additional eligibility requirements

  • Must be insurable to drive a zoo vehicle.
  • Must be able to maintain work hours that will serve the needs of the Blank Park Zoo.
  • Must be able to complete risk assessment reports, incident reports and other communication as it relates to the security and operation of the facility.
  • Must be able to maintain calm and act professionally in all situations such as emergencies.
  • Membership in the local SHRM chapter is preferred.  


  • Valid Iowa motor vehicle license
  • First Aid/CPR Training or ability to obtain

Contact Information

Other Duties

Please note this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time with or without notice.  

Affirmative Action/EEO Statement

Blank Park Zoo is an equal opportunity employer and gives employment and promotional consideration without regard to race, color, sex, religion, age, disability, disabled veterans, veterans of the Vietnam era, and any other protected class as required by local, state, or federal law. We seek applicants for employment who are dedicated, hardworking, and seek fulfilling employment. In return, Blank Park Zoo offers competitive income, benefits, and an excellent working environment.

To apply, click here.


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