a Sea Change in the Making at Human Resources
a Sea Change in the Making at Human Resources
Recruitment, Retention, Training and Improved Services are High on Sandra Haire's Agenda
Phillips Satz, Human Resources
At her first visit with the chancellor's cabinet, Chancellor Berdahl jokingly asked: "So, you've been here four hours, what have you changed so far?"
"Human Resources has a great opportunity to begin the new century as a leader of change on the Berkeley campus," Haire said recently. "We've started by expanding our communications and improving our services. We also need to help the campus community address critical issues like recruiting and retaining the very best staff to support the university's academic mission."
"Part of the answer," she says, "is to improve compensation for some of our critical positions, but another even more critical issue is to improve the way we manage human resources.
"Times have changed for Berkeley as an employer," Haire said. "The economy, the high-tech job market, and the changing aspirations of a new generation have made it harder to fill job openings and to keep top employees. We need creative approaches to recruitment, and we need to recognize the excellent staff members who are already working here."
The associate vice president for human resources at the University of Texas, Austin when Berkeley recruited her last year, Haire has already started turning her ideas into action. The department has expanded its hours of operation and will soon publish a quarterly newsletter for campus staff. Transfer and promotion opportunities for administrative support staff were highlighted at a recent campus job fair, and new recruitment strategies will be a major focus for this year.
Haire has plenty of experience leading a human resources operation through major changes. At Texas, she oversaw the Office of Human Resources's move from manual systems to full automation, including on-line training programs and applicant services. Her office also developed management training programs, improved personnel services and employee communications, and increased compensation for staff based on labor market comparisons.
"With limited funding and too few staff, it was a difficult challenge," Haire recalled. "However, with help from the campus community and a very energized staff, we were able to make huge changes. We recruited cross-functional teams to develop an automated applicant services system and new employee relations policies, and to redesign the new employee orientation and annual benefits enrollment process. We solicited input from campus staff and faculty through focus groups and a regular HR forum.
"Within the first year," said Haire, "we had implemented many new processes, improved our response time to the campus, and opened up communications to a healthy and productive level."
What's in Store at Berkeley?
Haire's approach to change at Berkeley includes a strategic planning process for Human Resources. Along with Human Resources managers and staff, she is incorporating data from last year's external review of the department with what she's learned from campus administrators, managers, staff, and staff organizations, as well as the department's in-house expertise.
In an environment of limited resources, the department will have to set priorities for tackling issues like staff compensation and recognition, recruiting and retaining technical and administrative staff, and providing for management and professional staff development.
Haire plans to overcome some of the challenges by working with campus organizations like the Chancellor's Center on Organizational Effectiveness to provide the resources and services needed by campus departments. At the same time, successful initiatives like the Leadership Development Program offered through Human Resources' Employee Development & Training unit are expanding the pool of talented managers who can bring about change in campus departments.
Human Resources also is creating opportunities for more direct communication with campus staff and faculty. The new quarterly publication will include information about benefits, training, pay programs and policy changes, along with tips on campus resources and updates on new programs. A series of campus forums will give managers and staff a chance to hear directly from Human Resources about critical campus issues and to participate in planning new programs.
"One of the chancellor's major priorities is to support an inclusive campus community, and it's our job to help the campus understand the importance of staff in that community," Haire said. "We also have a role in another critical priority of the chancellor's: improving organizational effectiveness. Our task this year is to develop and deliver effective services that will assist the campus in achieving these goals."
Information about Human Resources programs and University benefits, personnel policies, and contracts can be found on HR's Web site (hrweb.berkeley.edu). The first issue of the quarterly newsletter is expected in early spring.