Human Resources Concludes Performance Assessment

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Wills Walker
The Division of Human Resources has completed an assessment of its performance in the human resources core function areas. The assessment results identified the division’s current strengths and addressed several opportunities for improvement within the context of Kent State University’s strategic plan.

The assessment analyzed the services that the various human resources units provide to Kent State faculty and staff at the eight campuses. The formal assessment was conducted by two external consultants and included an employee survey that was completed by nearly 1,000 faculty and staff.

Willis Walker, vice president for Human Resources, was pleased that the assessment pointed out the division’s strengths, as well as opportunities for change. “When you go through an exercise such as this, you anticipate finding areas where there is room for improvement,” Walker says. “While that was the case here, it was also gratifying to find that our employees, and the consultants, think that overall HR is doing a good job.”

The HR strengths identified in the assessment include:

  • Scope and Structure — HR has a scope and structure appropriate to its current mission. When compared to the standards of the American Management Association (AMACOM) and to the external comparison metrics utilized for this assessment, Kent State HR measures up.
  • Alignment — HR’s mission and strategic plan align well with the mission and strategy of the university.
  • Staff expertise — HR staff is competent, professional and dedicated, with a customer-oriented attitude. HR also has appropriate policies for compliance and knowledgeable staff in this area.
  • Benefits — Employee benefits are comprehensive and generous; employees recognize this and are appreciative.
  • Innovation and Initiative — HR has implemented some innovative programs that have substantially reduced costs while contributing to the well-being of employees.

Based on these findings, Walker says HR will continue to enhance its strengths while simultaneously working on the opportunities for development that were identified. These include:

  • Timeliness — Employees expressed concerns about the timeliness of responses to their requests, particularly in the area of benefit inquiries, filling job positions, responding to affirmative action requests and reclassification issues.
  • Technology Utilization — Some employees did not find the HR website or the MyHR tab in FlashLine, to be user friendly. The assessment recommends changes to both venues to make them simpler to navigate.
  • Visibility — While Kent State HR has a “solid portfolio of core strengths,” the survey data indicated that employees lack a basic awareness of the depth of human resources services that are available, particularly at the Regional Campuses. Related to this, another recommendation was that HR establish a central point of contact for each university division or department, to create a stronger awareness of the scope of HR services.
  • Feedback — HR should establish mechanisms for more frequent sampling of employees’ needs and perceptions; this could be done through focus groups, meeting with individual departments or through a survey.
  • The role of line managers — Line managers (department or unit heads) should be more actively involved in the HR duties for their department and not defer all issues to the HR staff. According to the assessment, the role of HR is to build credibility with the line managers and support them in their managerial role.
  • The assessment also found that that university would benefit from a reorientation of the HR mission and resources to support transformational culture change within the organization. According to the consultants, the HR staff possesses a range of skills in organizational development and could help support the transformational change process needed to promote the university’s strategic plan.

In response to the findings, each HR unit will develop continuous improvement plans and will realign its strategic plan to incorporate these ideas. In taking on this task, HR staff may ask employees who completed the HR survey last fall to provide additional feedback or serve as part of a focus group for new initiatives.

The executive summary of the HR assessment and the division’s response to each finding are available on the HR website.

By Carla Wyckoff

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