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Human Resources “Health” Assessments for Educational Institutions

As you think about returning to school and how to do that safely, think about your HR function as a critical component to the success of planning.

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As you think about returning to school and how to do that safely, think about your HR function as a critical component to the success of planning.

As a school administrator/leader, you should be giving yourself lots of credit. Getting your students, families and staff off campus at the start of the pandemic, then ensuring education continued in a remote model, took a herculean effort. Unfortunately, there is still more work to be done. Today, one of the hottest national topics is the Return to School. For all educators, the concern for the safety of our campus trumps all other worries.

As you think about returning to school and how to do that safely, think about your HR function as a critical component to the success of planning. HR and the people-side of the education business has always been in the forefront of our minds and those questions about the quality of the function continue. Whether you have a formal HR department or not, here are some questions that should be considered.

  • Do we have the right HR practices, systems, expertise and resources to support both our current and projected challenges and strategies for our workforce?
  • Do we have/need the appropriate HR professionals on staff?
  • How do I ensure that we’re doing everything we can to retain our top performers especially during COVID?
  • Who’s keeping up with all the labor law changes, and are we compliant at the 50-employee mark? What happens at the 100-employee mark?
  • Where do we start when thinking about HR functionality?

Even the most talented HR professionals find it challenging to balance the execution of their daily tasks and unexpected demands with finding time to think about strategy and assessment of their function. We all know that there are areas for improvement and efficiency, but don’t have any time to address them. So, asking the questions, and doing an assessment, is not a reflection on poor HR performance. It is a matter of only so many hours in the day!

Whether you have 50 or 500 staff a comprehensive HR health assessment is a cost-effective, efficient way to begin the process of answering these questions. And the best way to answer them is with a seven-step look which will give your school a complete picture of where their HR practices stand today and where they’ll need to be tomorrow. It runs from attracting and hiring talent to developing staff and off-boarding, and areas of focus include:

  1. Attracting – Is your school in the best possible position to attract top talent and be an employer of choice? Attracting talent is about more than just being on the “best places to work” lists – today we are dealing with multi-dimensional social media influence. Think about your school and what you want people on the outside to say when asked, “what do you think it is like to work there?”
  2. Selecting – Educational organizations strive to be successful not only selecting the right candidates, but in the process of how they do so. Understand how long it takes you to make a hiring decision and why. Look at where your best hires have come from and double down your investment in that job board or strategy.
  3. On-boarding – Data shows us that in the first 90 days of employment, employees make decisions on how much effort they are going to put into a job and how long they are going to stay. This is a sweet spot of time where your investment in their experience will see a return.
  4. Engaging – Although “employee engagement” is becoming an antiquated term in the HR world, having employees who are jazzed up about coming to work and who feel pride in their work are still going to have a positive impact on your bottom line. Look at your communication strategy and how you are recognizing above and beyond efforts.
  5. Developing – Development doesn’t always have to mean promotion. Often lateral opportunities can expose staff to opportunities. Think about project work and special events as opportunities for development.
  6. Managing – The “culture of constant feedback” experiment has proven to not be what employees are looking for. Amazon and others who looked at illuminating performance reviews, have since gone back to formal reviews in one form or another. There is a lot of good data put out there by performance review guru Marc Ephron (“One Page Talent Manager”) about what the science tells us about performance reviews and where they add value. Don’t try to solve all problems via your performance review. Keep it simple!
  7. Off-boarding – Whether involuntary of voluntary, the way your school handles employee departures can save you money and promote your employment brand. There are compliance components to this process in each state. It is an important program for your school and often doesn’t get enough attention.

The focus on these areas should include assessing efficiency, the employee experience, and compliance. Having reviewed each of these components of the HR function will provide your school with a solid foundation with which to make critical decisions and develop staff related strategies. Improvements in even just one area could save you money and improve your employee’s experience.

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