October 16, 2011

Administrators Say HR Initiative Will Ease Burden on Staff

Print More

Administrators expressed confidence in cost-saving initiatives undertaken by the Human Resources division. At a meeting on Friday, they said that the measures will save $1 million annually and reduce the amount of HR-related work for University employees.

One of the primary goals of the HR initiatives is to reduce the workload of staff members, whose jobs have become increasingly demanding in the last few years as a result of recent cutbacks, said Lyman Flahive, senior director for human resources information systems. Since 2008, the University has laid off 200 employees and eliminated approximately 900 positions, according to Mary Opperman, vice president for human resources.

“What’s keeping me up the most is whether in the current campus atmosphere, where we’ve reduced the workforce but not reduced the amount of work, … whether we can get this change out there in a timely manner and relieve some of the pressure on people,” Flahive said.

The HR streamlining is one part of Administrative Streamlining Program, a set of 10 initiatives that jointly aim to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of support services. The University hopes ASP will reduce University operating costs by $75 to $85 million annually by Fiscal Year 2015, according to the program’s website.

At the meeting, administrators outlined the specific projects undertaken by the Office of Human Resources to achieve its savings goal.

The biggest change to the program will be the implementation of a new payroll management system for HR, Flahive said. The system will streamline how the University collects and manages data about its employees, he said.

“The project is intended to improve our resource tools across campus,” Flahive said. The upgraded system, known as Workday, will integrate all current HR processes to minimize redundancies.

Managers will be able to access Workday to view information about their employees, according to Flahive.

Flahive added that employees would also be able to access Workday to manage their demographic information, as well as their sick and vacation days.

According to Flahive, the launch date for the service has not been finalized, as the new payroll system is still in development. However, he said July 2012 was the target date.

Other streamlining efforts by the Office of Human Resources have already been implemented, according to Opperman. One of these initiatives, she said, was the consolidation of HR positions across campus into one full-service organization. Previously, HR staff members were spread across the colleges, rather than in one office.

Opperman said her office has not had to lay anyone off as a result of the consolidation.  The size of the HR staff was instead reduced as a result of early retirement incentive programs and leaving vacant positions open. While the initiative has led to cost savings, Opperman acknowledged that it has also placed a greater workload on the remaining staffers.

“It’s true that people are working harder, and that’s why we needed to do some of these consolidations. We needed to make sure some of the things we were doing were doable with the staff we have,” she said.

Another program to reduce costs and improve efficiency was the creation of a University On-Boarding Center, according to Allan Bishop, senior director of the Recruitment and Employment Center.  The center, which recently opened in East Hill Plaza, is designed to be a single destination where new employees can complete all required human resources paperwork to more easily transition them to campus.

The center has received a “very positive” response, according to Bishop. While only regular staff hires are currently welcomed through the center, Bishop said academic hires would be included by March 2012.

The streamlining initiative also includes the creation of service assessments for senior administrators. According to Kathryn Burkgren, director of the department of Organizational Development for Faculty and Staff, the tool is meant to measure the effectiveness of administration leaders.

Administrators will send out the assessments annually to their staffs, according to Burkgren. Each assessment will feature the same 10 questions, followed by several more open-ended questions provided by each administrator. President Skorton and the Board of Trustees will then use the data to “make sure we’re still in alignment with our goals,” Burkgren said.

According to Burkgren, the assessments will not be a tool for further job reductions.

“We’re just making sure that we’re aligned appropriately,” she said.

Original Author: David Marten