The Importance of a Robust HR Department on Campus


Over the past decade, the role of human resources (HR) has shifted dramatically. While traditionally fixated on policies and paperwork, many of the more mundane tasks overseen by this department — like payroll processing, benefits management, and recruiting — have been automated, allowing HR professionals to focus on more strategic concerns.

Businesses increasingly now rely on Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) to oversee traditional functions while driving innovations in employee engagement, company culture, and organizational changes. However, despite this trend, many colleges and universities still have their highest-ranking HR professional reporting to finance officials, treating their operations primarily as a reporting function.

In fact, one study conducted by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources found that nearly half of chief HR officers at institutes of higher learning reported to school business officers, while only about one quarter reported directly to the organization's president.

In contrast, those schools that have embraced this trend and empowered their HR teams to do more than process forms have netted a number of benefits in:

Workforce Stability

After pouring over employment data, LinkedIn found that "job-hopping" among college graduates has been increasing steadily for decades, the average number of companies that college graduates had worked at in the first five years after receiving their diploma had nearly doubled. In addition, workers in the education sector — along with other non-profit and government roles — were more likely to engage in "nomadic employment" than their peers.

Unless this trend abates, it's likely that any new hire on your campus won't stay around for too long, leading to more frequent staffing interruptions than most schools are used to. However, by empowering your HR team to proactively engage in succession planning and to build a robust talent pipeline, your school can mitigate the negative impact of this increased employee churn.

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Employee Engagement

Beyond focusing on the acquisition of new talent, your HR department can also prove to be critical in retaining the existing pool of skilled faculty and staff that already make your campus great.

To remain a competitive employer, your school needs to offer every worker on your campus the ability to develop new skills and grow in their careers. And an effective HR team can help by working with department heads and management to determine what positions are actually needed on campus along with the corresponding skills and qualifications necessary to thrive in these posts.

Your HR team can also serve as an effective bridge between workers and management, enabling faculty and staff to have their voices heard — leading to more productive dialogue and less workplace frustration.

Cultural Development

It has long been established — even in the realm of higher education — that the tone at the top of an organization will have a clear and noticeable impact on the overall culture. And when that culture needs to change or adapt, these efforts need to be driven from the top down.

An effective, proactive HR department can help with this transition, coaching leaders and mid-level supervisors on how to drive new policies and deliver a consistent, clear message to every worker regarding the expectations and values of the organization. These efforts can prove particularly helpful while trying to create an inclusive and welcoming campus.
In addition, since your HR team will interface with every other department, they will likely be able to more quickly identify if there are any existing (or potential) cultural problems that need to be addressed.

With the proper investment and support, your school can shift the focus of its HR organization from process management to growth and development — all without sacrificing those critical back-office tasks that keep the organization running smoothly.

Prevent Harassment & Discrimination

Harassment training for the modern workplace can be challenging. Vector Solutions (formerly Everfi's Campus Prevention Network) presents bite-sized content designed with your employees in mind to set the stage for discussing a positive workplace culture.

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