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Berkeleyan

Customer satisfaction is at the core of OHR’s reorganization

| 05 June 2003

The campus Office of Human Resources (OHR) has undergone a recent reorganization so as to better serve the needs of campus customers, say administrators there. The new structure divides the office’s work among four functional areas, as well as a central customer service unit, which will be fully operational this summer.

“Part of what drove this reorganization are comments I’ve received from around campus that our office is not providing the kind of service it should,” says David Moers, assistant vice chancellor of human resources. “Employees tell me it’s difficult to reach people in our office, or, if they do reach someone, they often get transferred around. I’m also told that, depending on who one talks to here, the information received can vary greatly.”

The goal of the reorganization, says Moers, is to limit this inefficiency by creating a single point of contact that campus employees can use to get accurate and timely responses to many of their routine questions. Staff working in this broad-based customer-support unit (headed by Beth Luke) will be cross-trained to address the variety of inquiries they’ll receive. And if they can’t resolve the issue, says Moers, the customer-service representatives will be responsible for researching the needed information, and either they or a functional expert will call the customer back.

“Campus clients will not be required to use this customer-service unit,” adds Moers, “and can continue contacting specific OHR staff or departments directly if they prefer.”

Before fully launching the customer-service unit, the underlying processes of the human resources office had to be restructured, he says. To accomplish this goal, Moers defined four functional areas into which the department’s primary work will fall: internal operations, workforce planning and analysis, workforce development, and labor relations.

Internal operations will provide oversight of the unit’s budget and accounting functions (formerly, this was done separately within each department in human resources), strategic planning, communications, HRMS (Human Resources Management System) and internal computer operations. David Scronce is the director of this group.

The workforce planning and analysis unit will collect and examine data about campus staff, including demographics and salary surveys. They will also measure the effectiveness of human resource efforts and initiatives, and adjust or develop strategies and programs based on these metrics.

“In the past, we’ve relied on anecdotal information about the campus workforce and OHR’s operations,” says Edith Ng, who will head this group. “This restructuring will allow us to provide comprehensive data and analysis to both human resources and the university, which will help inform decision making.”

Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity programs will also be handled by this area, as part of their Staff Equity and Diversity Services, or SEADS.

Employment, classification, compensation, and employee training will co-exist under the auspices of Workforce Development, led by Kimberly Miller. Hiring staff at Berkeley has traditionally been a very cumbersome process, says Moers. Putting all functions related to hiring within the same unit should greatly expedite this process, he believes.

Debra Harrington will oversee the Labor Relations Unit, which covers bargaining, organizing, and arbitration. This area was not changed significantly under the reorganization.

“The needs of the campus will guide the work of these four units,” says Moers of the restructuring. “Customer service is at the center of this new strategy, and all our activities must point towards that center.”

The reassignment of specific tasks and staff in the units is currently being finalized, and updated contact information will be posted on the OHR website next week.

One problem the restructuring doesn’t address, Moers admits, is that his office is often in a reactive position, trying to address problems on campus after-the-fact. His solution for this is to create, where needed, a pool of “relationship managers,” who will work closely with control units to assist them with human-resources issues. Discussions are under way to jointly determine which campus units would benefit from this service. The program will begin in about six months.

“By becoming familiar with the employees, business needs, and culture in a particular area,” says Moers, “my hope is that the relationship managers can help prevent troublesome situations from developing in the first place.”

This service, as well as employee relations, HRMS customer service, and benefits, will become part of the new customer-support unit. “I think that over time, dissatisfaction with the way our office operates will decrease as a result of these changes,” says Moers. “We in human resources look forward to approaching our work in a new way, and are eager to provide excellent customer service to the campus.”