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Human Resources Plans a Renaissance

Six Months on the Job, Assistant Vice Chancellor Sandra Haire Describes Program for Overhauling Her Troubled Unit

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
Posted March 22, 2000

When Sandy Haire, assistant vice chancellor of human resources, came to Berkeley last fall, she inherited a unit fraught with difficulties. She wasted no time in rolling up her sleeves and rallying her staff to come up with a plan to resuscitate the beleaguered department.

"Human Resources has gone through hard times in the past, and it was difficult for us to decide where to start," said Haire, who previously worked for the University of Texas. "We have been working to identify priorities and initiatives, both internal and external."

This year's goal is to improve recruitment and retention practices, with a special focus on the employment application process, compensation, training and communications, said Haire. She shared her plan with a large group of staff gathered at Alumni House for a noon-time brown bag March 16.

"The employment application process is now paper-driven and labor intensive," said Haire. "We want to automate it, make it Web-based, interactive and paperless so that positions can be filled more quickly and information can flow more easily."

To make this happen, the department will need new computer hardware, software and training on how to use this technology, she said.

To address the issue of compensation, Haire has recommended to the chancellor that a compensation advisory committee be created to evaluate salary adjustments.

"We need a process that is more flexible, market-driven and less civil-servant oriented," said Haire. "I'd like to find a way to give employees raises without going through the cumbersome reclassification process."

One of the keys to retaining employees, said Haire, is comprehensive training programs. Many of the classes Human Resources offered in the past were cut during the budget crunch of the early 1990s and have never been replaced, she said. In the interim, many departments have instituted their own training programs.

"We plan to do an inventory of training programs around campus and assess what's already being done and what is still needed," said Haire. "We also want to implement special training for department chairs, MSO's and career training for staff."

Other potential training programs include a monthly career development lecture series and upgrading new employee orientation.

Haire also wants to implement performance management training to better prepare managers and supervisors for evaluating their employees.

"Merit increases are based on performance evaluations, but evaluations are not always done or they are done poorly," said Haire. "We want to create a uniform evaluation system and train people how to use it properly. The evaluation system should be consistent for all job titles, which will make it more fair. Right now, there is a lot of subjectivity."

Retention will also be improved with better communication, said Haire. To that end, a new quarterly newsletter, HR Links, will be distributed to everyone on campus. "Supervision" will continue to be published.

"We want to keep everyone abreast of what's happening in Human Resources," she said. "I'd like to get to a point where proposed changes will be run by the campus for feedback before they are implemented," said Haire of ways the new publication might be used. "We'd also like to put more info on our Web page and create self-service areas on that site where employees can process some things themselves."

Improving communications with the campus's various unions is also a priority, she said.

"The university shares many of the same goals as the union does," said Haire. "We want employees to be happy and paid well so that they stay with the campus."

However, the two groups don't always agree on the best methods to achieve these goals, she said. When asked if a union representative might sit on the proposed compensation advisory committee, Haire said that was a possibility, but she "doesn't want to get involved in bargaining at that level."

Haire said she will continue to update the campus on human resource changes and progress through continued dialogue and future brown-bag lectures.




March 22 - April 5, 2000 (Volume 28, Number 26)
Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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