Division of Human Resources Unit Planning Document
(Revised February 1997)
The Mission of Human Resources
Functions of the Division
Objectives & Activities
Measurable Performance Indicators
Initiatives - New Directions & Opportunities
The mission of the Division of Human Resources is to provide the highest quality support services to constituencies of the Amherst campus; to attract, retain and develop employees; negotiate and administer collective bargaining agreements; ensure the timely and equitable compensation of employees; maintain and disseminate accurate information; propose and administer policies, and manage benefits.
Our programs and services are designed to foster effective and efficient use of campus human resources, to promote and support an environment where dignity, ethical conduct and diversity are valued, all employees are respected, their contributions recognized, and their career development encouraged.
The major functions of the Division include:
All of the activities, programs, and services engaged in by Human Resources are directed toward three primary objectives. We continuously strive to:
Principal Activities of the Division
The methods we use and the principal activities that we undertake to carry out our responsi-bilities consist primarily of the following:
As we review the purpose and functions of the unit, we continue to evaluate our effectiveness in supporting the mission of the University and the emerging vision of the campus. Because of our ongoing efforts to provide the highest level of service, we are committed to the philosophy of Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI). We "walk the talk" so to speak, using CQI as a vehicle to bring about constructive change and to promote a cooperative, team approach to problem-solving.
Our staff is dedicated, hard-working, multicultural, task-oriented and knowledgeable. By utilizing them effectively, we are timely and accurate in issuing paychecks to more than 10,000 students and employees and in our administration of employee fringe benefits. We have an active outreach program which results in collaborative partnerships with several external constituencies in the area of training and development and employee education.
However, just as we have strengths, we also have weaknesses. We recognize that there remains some inadequate linkage with departmental staff who process various personnel actions and this hinders optimal customer service. Progress has been made in improving our connections and communication with departments, through Adminstrative Redesign, CQI projects, and outreach efforts. Our interpretations in areas not governed by federal and state regulations or trustee policy, are sometimes perceived as inflexible or too conservative. We also do not market our services to the extent possible. Within each of these areas we continue to focus on ways to provide the best possible service to our campus constituents.
Measurable Performance Indicators
Performance indicators help us measure the effectiveness of our services, programs, and activities and inform us about whether we are addressing the needs of the campus community. We use the following types of performance indicators in the Division:
Benchmarking is defined as "the search for industry best practices that lead to superior performance" (Robert C. Camp). According to the National Association of College & University Business Officers (NACUBO), benchmarking is a process of looking within and across industries (or colleges and universities) for administrative operations that produce outstanding results. We use benchmarking to compare UMass/Amherst to other schools by looking at data such as: ratio of faculty to staff, total dollars spent on fringe benefits per employee, employee retention rates, allocation of resources, etc. This information tells us how our operations rank nationally and on average, and where improvements could be made in terms of costs and outputs.
CQI Customer Surveys
The executive area of Administration and Finance, as well as other areas of the campus, has embraced the concepts of Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) and its focus on a new level of service where quality is the defining feature. Key to this effort are periodic surveys of the constituencies we serve to determine how well we are meeting their needs and what we should or could be doing better.
Random Surveys of Employees
We plan to continue random surveys of employees who have had occasion to interact with our division in any manner of ways (e.g. employment processing, fringe benefits administration, payroll action changes, etc.). These surveys inform us about how well our processes and procedures are working and indicate whether any changes/improvements need to be made.
Training and Development Workshop Evaluations
As a matter of practice, we routinely ask every participant at our programs, workshops, short courses and other learning activities to complete an evaluation form. Data is collected and used to assess the activities and to plan future offerings.
Data on Placement Rates of Individuals From Protected Classes
To assess the success of our recruitment efforts in placing applicants from protected classes into classified positions, the Employment Office maintains data on the number of off-campus applicants, the number of women/minorities hired and their place of residence, etc. We are able to gauge our performance by comparing this data to the availability statistics generated by the Office of Equal Opportunity & Diversity (EO&D).
Internal and External Audits
Internal and external audits of the payroll process are conducted on an annual basis. These audits cover the entire payroll process as well as individual employee payments and are a primary indicator of our conformance to acceptable standards. Audits of specific accounts are done periodically.
It should be noted that none of the above performance indicators is the sole determinant of our strengths, weaknesses, or quality and cost effectiveness of the services we provide. Each is but one of several components in what we hope will become a carefully arranged and systematic program of action to attain excellence in all that we are charged with doing.
Human Resources has designed several initiatives to address the emerging new directions and future opportunities on the campus. Some of these efforts are already under way while others are in various stages of the planning process. The following initiatives have been identified for our division:
As part of the second phase of the Administrative Redesign (ARD) project, Human Resources has been working with Bremer Associates to implement an automated Personnel Requisition form. A final version of the software is expected from the company in Spring '97. Shortly thereafter, Human Resources will conduct training sessions and provide user documentation to campus departments. The automated processing capability allows departments to fill out a Requisition on their personal computers and have it electronically transmitted for various reviews and signature approvals. In addition, data supplied on the completed form is fed to the Employment Office where it is used to advertise positions and create applicant pools.
We plan to continue our journey toward a new "paperless" system by including other documents like the Offer & Acceptance and the Personnel Action so the entire hiring process can become fully automated. By expanding our electronic capability, we can eliminate form completion errors/ omissions, decrease the amount of time it takes to hire personnel, and substantially reduce the volume of paper currently being used in the hiring process.
Based on information gathered from a survey distributed on campus, Human Resources is constructing a data resource which can be used for other systems within Administration & Finance. The resource will contain: all potential users of the automated hiring process, their personal computer hardware specifications, and it identifies departments that are connected to the campus fiber-optic network. By "defining the technical environment," we will know which computers in A & F meet the minimum requirements for processing the Personnel Requisition on-line.
In the third phase, we will also investigate the possibility of automating other human resources procedures and forms (such as Tuition Waivers) that lend themselves to this type of electronic workflow processing.
Human Resources recently initiated on-site instruction for departments that wish to submit their time and attendance reports using the HRMIS rather than filling out a form and bringing it to our office for processing. A representative from Payroll goes to departmental offices and trains the staff on proper procedures for entering their weekly attendance on-line. This arrangement permits department staff to learn data entry requirements using their own equipment, fosters better working relationships with Human Resources, and produces time savings for campus departments and the Payroll Office. We plan to broaden our outreach efforts by encouraging a greater number of departments to participate in decentralized attendance reporting.
One of the ideas that emerged from a joint CQI project between Financial Aid and Human Resources, was to develop paperless processing of student employee appointment forms. Although the amount of paperwork required to hire students is fairly minimal, the appointment process itself has been burdensome for both students and campus employers, particularly when work-study money is involved.
The Student Employment Office (SEO), a section of Financial Aid, administers the Work Study program and controls the production, distribution, and initial processing of work study student Personnel Action Forms (PAFs). Work study students have traditionally waited in long lines to pick up their PAFs in Whitmore, bring them to employers for completion, and return the forms to the SEO. PAFs are forwarded to the Student Payroll Office in Human Resources for data entry into HRMIS. Non-Work Study PAFs are sent directly from the employer to Human Resources. An overnight computer edit process checks information provided on all PAFs against certain computer files (Registrar, Fin. Aid, Accounting), and internally programmed specifications (minimum wage, appointment dates, etc.) before time sheets can be generated.
As a result of the CQI project, a special screen has been developed that allows employers to type PAF data directly into the HRMIS, rather than filling out a paper copy of the form. "Real time" edits are done to verify a student's name, work study award, tax information (if on file), and status (enrolled or withdrawn). The electronically submitted PAF is processed for payroll immediately after the student is hired.
Following a successful pilot program, Human Resources and Financial Aid are now in the initial stage of conducting training sessions to instruct campus employers on the paperless processing system. We plan to broaden this capability to include as many departments as possible. It is estimated that the electronic PAF processing alone will eliminate at least 10-15 hours of weekly labor in the Payroll Office in terms of data entry, batch control, edit report corrections and filing. The SEO will consequently be able to devote more time to serving students and spend less on producing/processing paperwork. On-line PAF processing will also assist students and employers by significantly reducing the need to walk paperwork around the campus. In another phase of this project we will investigate the possibility of decentralizing other student payroll functions such as time reporting.
The tax procedures we must follow for non-resident students and scholars are governed by a maze of ever-changing and complicated legal policies. According to I.R.S. rules, we are responsible for identifying all aliens (non-US citizens) on the University payroll, categorizing them into two groups: Resident Alien and Non-Resident Alien, and taxing them accordingly. We estimate that there are 1,000 non-resident aliens on campus. Of that number, a few hundred are eligible for tax exemptions based on tax treaties, if they file Form 8233 with our office.
Special withholding rules that apply to non-resident aliens are extremely time-consuming for us to administer in terms of research on tax treaties and tax law, personally assisting each student or scholar, completing/checking paperwork, and maintaining records. Given the IRS program, Compliance 2000, which examines tax filings of foreign nation students and scholars, and IRS audits of educational institution withholdings and reporting procedures, we increasingly face a potential liability issue (penalties and interest) by relying strictly on manual procedures to carry out our responsibilities. We propose to automate the tax withholding verification and reporting process.
The purpose of an interactive Human Resources system is to give employees quick access to their personnel data records by allowing them to update or obtain certain information with ease. The interactive system we have developed, currently allows employees to: change their home address and an emergency contact; view their current federal and state tax (W4/M4) withholding information, and make projections on their retirement pensions.
In the next phase of development, we plan to provide more employee self-service by adding the capability to view payroll deductions, change campus address and E-Mail address, and permit employees to view and generate an up-to-date fringe benefits statement.
Our interactive system called EPIK (Employee Personal Information Kiosk), is currently accessible via the Human Resources Home Page on the Web, and on a KIOSK installed in the centrally-located Goodell Building. We plan to add two more KIOSKS in the Spring 1997. One will be stationed outside the Human Resources Information Center and the other will move to different campus buildings on a rotating schedule.
With the creation of Human Resources' Web site, campus departments now have immediate access to documents, policies, procedures, etc., and may produce paper copies as needed. In the second phase of the Web project, we plan to maintain the site by providing updated versions of revised documents and adding new policies and procedures as they are released. We will also be working to identify Human Resources forms and services that can be made "Web-deployable." For instance, we will explore the possibility of making standard forms available on our web site so departments can file industrial accident reports, request mailing labels, and register new employees for our Information Program.
After conducting a thorough evaluation of the 30-year old off-campus applicant referral process, a CQI team identified a number of ways we could improve service to classified job applicants and campus employers. The team recommended changes in forms/reports, procedures, information distribution, and automating the applicant testing program. We adopted the team's recommendations and expect full implementation to occur within the next twelve months.
We plan to establish a testing room in close proximity to the Employment Office to house three QWIZ workstations (one of which will be for practice only). Before the new testing program can be implemented, UIS must program an interface to the Applicant Tracking System, and develop a new database for applicant test scores. Also, an implementation plan must be prepared so that the "cut over" from the old to the new testing program can be managed smoothly. Of critical importance is the need for adequate space for a testing room which meets ADA specifications concerning accessibility for the disabled.
Many employees are beginning to recognize that the State Retirement Plan and Social Security income will not provide sufficient money for their retirement years. To address this situation, the Division of Human Resources and the Treasurer's Office offer workshops that will help employees and their families in developing other innovative financial strategies. Realizing that employees will be facing retirement with a myriad of questions, it is important that we encourage employees to consider making plans early in their working careers. We will continue presenting workshops to explain the state retirement plan and to expand on subject areas such as: financial planning, early retirement, tax-sheltered annuities, mutual funds, estate planning, tax issues, housing options, long-term care, incapacity planning, Medicare, and health insurance coverage.
We propose to explore the possibility of establishing a flexible benefit program for employees of the University. Such a program would provide employees with a choice of benefits, empower employees to make their own decisions regarding benefits, control future benefit costs, and help us attract and retain a first rate work force by making total compensation more tax effective.
Since the University currently administers a benefit program provided by the Commonwealth and does not control the benefit dollars attributed to the program, we must seek legislative changes to establish a flexible benefit program for the Amherst campus. This would necessitate filing legislation to authorize the University to establish a flexible benefit program under Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code for active employees of the University. This could probably be accomplished by amending the Pension Reform Bill (Section 131 of Chapter 697 of the Act of 1981) which authorizes the Executive Office for Administration and Finance to establish a cafeteria plan for Commonwealth employees.
Implementing a full, flexible benefits program could take a considerable amount of time and costs would vary based on the number of participants and the number of options made available to employees.
The Division of Human Resources will continue to explore the possibility of expanding benefits to domestic partners of employees. Currently, the Division carries out the registration process for existing campus benefits to domestic partners of employees and provides training sessions for those responsible for administering benefits. Accordingly, the Division will play a major role in the event that additional benefits are proposed and/or secured through the collective bargaining process. Finally, the Division will support legislative change efforts that are required before health care or retirement benefits can become available.
For the immediate future, the Division of Human Resources will continue to review written materials which are distributed through this office as well as the information disseminated during informational sessions and will include references to domestic partners where appropriate.
Efforts will be made to approach the Commonwealth's Division of Human Resources in order to explore the possibility of gaining autonomy for non-unit classified position evaluation, in concert with the other four campuses. If the University succeeds in this endeavor, it might allow for a further study to be carried out on the feasibility of implementing a merit award system in conjunction with the performance evaluation process.
Currently the allocation, or reallocation, of all classified positions is the responsibility of the Commonwealth's Division of Human Resources, as set forth in Chapter 30, Sections 45 and 49 of the Massachusetts General Laws. In order to amend the process it will be necessary for the University to approach the Commonwealth's Director of Human Resources, and jointly to petition the legislature to amend Chapter 30, Sections 45 and 49 of the MGL.
Since these proposed actions will take some time to implement, it would not be realistic at this point to project the implications in human and financial resources or space needs.
The Division of Human Resources will seek to work with labor units to prepare a proposal to implement career ladder systems for professional and classified staff members. Our aim is to empower these employees by enabling them to better plan their career growth and ultimately their future at this institution.
Committees will be appointed to determine those positions which more readily lend themselves to career ladders, and to conduct a pilot study to test the viability of the project.
We plan to explore the possibility of surveying individuals who voluntarily terminate their employment with the University. Currently when an employee resigns, his or her department fills out a Termination of Employment Report and submits it to Human Resources. The report is used for job reference purposes to confirm: reason for resignation, job performance (in general terms) and regularity of attendance.
By collecting separation information from former employees, we hope to gain insight into the reasons why individuals decide to leave University employment. The feedback will help determine whether there are any patterns in the way human resources are managed and the impact they have on a person's decision to seek employment elsewhere. Questions would likely focus on areas such as: supervision, benefits, training, work environment, salary, etc.
The Training and Development Unit will continue to develop and implement a three tiered Supervisory Leadership Development Program. Over the course of the past year and in collaboration with the professional staff union, SEIU, a comprehensive, multi-tiered supervisory leadership development program was designed and piloted for all new supervisors (hired since July 94) within Administration and Finance. Based on the success of the program and the commitment within Administration and Finance to develop a shared language and set of core competencies, it was determined that beginning in Fall 97, all staff with supervisory responsibilities would participate in the core competency (first tier) program. In addition to expanding the core competency program to include veteran supervisors, the second tier of the program - the emergent series, will be piloted in the Fall '97, followed by the advanced program in Fall '98.
While Administration and Finance has made a clear commitment to supervisory leadership development, the need for supervisory training extends to all executive areas. Recent reports by the Ombuds Office and the Employee Assistance Program indicate that "toxic supervision" is one of the most frequent concerns for which mediation and employee assistance services are sought. In light of this information and having knowledge that many people are hired into supervisory positions without a clear understanding of the roles and skills necessary for their positions, it is important that a commitment to supervisory leadership development extend beyond Administration and Finance. The Training and Development Unit will continue to make the development and implementation of supervisory leadership development programs a high priority and work to involve all executive areas in these programs.
The Training and Development Unit will also continue to be an active partner in the Five College Training and Development Collaborative which for the past three years has provided supervisory leadership development programs through grants from the Mellon Foundation. The success of this collaboration has resulted in the formalization of the collaborative which will be funded by the participating institutions beginning in FY98. The collaborative will not only continue to develop opportunities for supervisory training but will also provide learning opportunities for senior managers and continue to serve as a catalyst for ongoing activities based on collaboration among human resource and training specialists with the Five Colleges.
Since its implementation in Fall 95, the Organizational Development (OD) Program within the Training and Development unit has provided customized training, process consultation and departmental interventions to well over 35 campus units and departments. Given the immediate and overwhelming response to the program, and the extensive work being done in large service units, it is important to plan for the expansion of the program to meet the demonstrated need for increased services.
The OD program plans to increase its capacity to respond to requests for long term interventions and for the development and delivery of custom designed training systems for large departments i.e Physical Plant, Auxiliary Services, Public Safety and Student Affairs etc. In addition, we plan to expand the OD program in order to sustain the development and delivery of other interventions such as on-on-one coaching, strategic planning, team development, group process consultation, leadership development, and retreat facilitation for teams.
Future plans for the OD program include developing a component of the program that will proactively support the Administrative Redesign (ARD) efforts through a variety of interventions including customized change management initiatives for departments impacted by ARD. The same forward thinking will be applied to the development of support programs for managers and supervisors involved in the campus based Supervisory Leadership Development Program as well as those involved in the Five College and Five Campus training series. These programs will provide an excellent opportunity to create a methodology to successfully transfer learning to work. A key initiative for the OD program will be to provide leadership for a broad based committee which will explore the feasibility of instituting a performance management system. We plan to convene a representative group consisting of employees from Human Resources, various unions, and others to develop an understanding of the meaning of performance management and devise a process for creating and implementing a performance management system.
Most departments, managers and employees have been or soon will be impacted by various organizational change initiatives resulting from Administrative Redesign, the Chancellor's Strategic Plan, Continuous Quality Improvement or the early retirement program. In an effort to assist the institution and its employees with managing and dealing with change, the Training and Development unit will continue to develop and implement a variety of change management training programs. In Fall '96, Human Resource Directors along with training specialists from the 5 campuses implemented a change management training program, Taking Charge of Change, which was delivered to 90 participants (system wide) with 15 of those participants from the Amherst campus. In an effort to extend this training opportunity to other managers and department heads, Training and Development will explore the feasibility of bringing this program, as delivered by the Cortland [consulting] Group, to the Amherst campus thereby broadening the impact. In addition Training and Development, through its Organizational Development program, will provide follow-up support to managers who have been through the program as well as provide assistance to departments impacted by any of the change initiatives. Through our Employee Training program we will continue to offer learning opportunities for employees on the impact of change. In support of the University-wide Human Resources ARD plan, Training and Development may be involved in the development and/or delivery of training and professional development programs for trustees, senior leaders, managers and employees. These strategies and programs will be designed to help them grow professionally and perform successfully in the new administrative environment of the University.
In the past, the University has done little, if anything, to offer support to employees who were being reduced in force due to lack of work, lack of funds, or curtailment of programs. The primary emphasis has been to assure adherence to the provisions of collective bargaining agreements and/or University Trustee Policy which do not address many areas that are important to affected employees. Therefore we plan to establish a program, if needed, which would offer an extensive array of activities to employees who are laid off or scheduled to be laid off in order to support them as much as possible within the financial resources that are available to do so. The plan calls for having official representatives from AFSCME, SEIU, and USA/MTA on the program development task force because of the benefits their active participation represents. In the first place their involvement ensures that the task force in no way supplants ongoing employer/union negotiations. Second, it opens another arena for labor/management cooperation. Third, it offers a model for labor/management team building and collaboration. Last, it is clearly in the best interest of laid off employees to have both the employer and the bargaining agents working jointly on their behalf.
The Employee/Labor Relations Office of the Division of Human Resources plans to conduct a series of workshops for supervisors on administering the professional and classified staff collective bargaining agreements. The purpose of the workshops will be to inform managers about the content of the contracts, paying particular attention to the changes negotiated during the last round of bargaining. The sessions will be designed to help managers with grievance avoidance/resolution and will be tailored for particular union contracts: USA/MTA, AFSCME, and SEIU. We plan to explain compliance requirements under contractual provisions in areas involving: hiring, evaluation, layoff and discipline. Administrators who are involved in the grievance procedure, will have the opportunity to participate in practice sessions on how to hold hearings, write decisions, and effectuate settlements.