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Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

The challenge

Many if not all universities are currently substantially re-thinking how they might gain substantial operational efficiency, improve service delivery, and provide sophisticated student and staff experiences.

HR departments face the big issue of how to streamline and automate processes, and while this is imperative, an equally important activity is how to best provide employee-centric experiences.  These are major shifts in the way we engage with and manage people.  Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions are a key platform for the delivery of these innovative services to staff.

There is a reasonable motivation to achieve the following:
  • Increased adoption and use of HR metrics to drive attraction/retention, performance and aspirations and to gain a complete picture of an employee’s capabilities
  • A move away from transaction-centric to employee-centric interactions and experiences
  • Innovation via mobile Apps for teams, feedback, video sharing and learning, goal alignment and well-being
  • New social contracts between companies and employees – contingent or “gig” employees
  • Sector aspirations and initiatives to improve the ratios of Academic to Professional staff, and student to staff
  • Desire for improved integration of software applications to provide seamless transfer of data and business processes across the university
 

Many universities are currently considering their options to address the HCM problem.  The issue is that most are dealing with the problem individually.  The challenge is to understand how much of this is being considered across the sector and what the opportunities are for collectively dealing with the problem.

The rapid shift in the way the contingent workforce (especially) expect to have their performance measured has challenged the traditional models of cyclical reviews and quantitative measurement of performance.  The challenge will be how this new performance measurement stacks against rigid policy and industrial landscapes.

The distinctive (and disruptive) features of performance management tend to have the following traits:

  • mobile enabled - touch|pinch|swipe
  • links to social platforms and wellness activities
  • team-based performance
  • transparent goals
  • frequent, easy, simple check-ins and feedback
  • links to sophisticated learning platforms 
 

Initial analysis reveals that while there is a desire to move quickly to adopt sophisticated HCM solutions, many implementations may fall short of expectations due to the potential lack of embracing the technology and a desire to get as much out of it as possible with an open mindset for what could be possible.

 

Many universities see HCM as something that enhances their employee brand and retention rates.

An opportunity exists for Higher Ed Services to assist the sector to collaborate and get the best possible HCM outcomes for the sector.

Some key challenges faced by universities and therefore the success of any employee experience (EX) initiatives:

  • The struggle of meeting flexible work arrangement demands against traditional ridged span of hrs and performance measurement policies etc
  • The rapidly increasing contingent (or "gig") workforce and how current and future industrial instruments deal with this
  • Dealing with internal process problems and associated technical challenges

Higher Ed Services should on behalf of the sector, be seeking advice and input from any organisation, individual or group to help inform the way in which its services to the sector can be as excellent as it can be.

A good outcome would be a set of strategies and road map designs that provide meaningful and achievable options for the adoption of HCM across the sector.

Design thinking:  some radical ideas on how HCM might be used in the sector.

Enterprise Architecture: The opportunities HCM presents should be viewable through an EA lens.  Is this even possible?

 

 

Challenge Opened: 11:11 AM, Monday 17 July 2017
Challenge Closes: 02:30 AM, Sunday 24 September 2017
Time to go: Closed

 

Do you want to contribute to this challenge?

The context

Challenge Opened: 11:11 AM, Monday 17 July 2017
Challenge Closes: 02:30 AM, Sunday 24 September 2017
Time to go: Closed

Do you want to contribute to this challenge?

Challenge Activity

Challenge Activity

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Peter Grimbeek is now contributing to this challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

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Peter Grimbeek commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

Apropos of HR and its adaptation to the gig economy: My jaundiced view of HR's role in a university is that part of its job description is to ensure that casual employees do not attain permanency. We gig not only because we can but also because we must.

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Carolyn Troup is now contributing to this challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

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Griffith University commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

This is certainly a very interesting challenge and I am not really sure where to start. This is a big debate in the HR literature, that HR are moving from transactional to strategic, and as an academic practitioner I often reflect on how HR theory is adopted in a university sector, much of what is called best practice is not grounded on an evidence base. My HR colleagues struggle with their transactional activity, and strategic skill, problem solving and data savvy skill is varied. There is a big push to move day to day management issues onto academic managers, along with the notion of Business partnering, but this is a massive transformational culture change. The main problems I often see in the university sector are structural. I completely agree with you Deborah about the growing precarious workforce, one which seems to be lost on the HR staff, as they are primarily permanent staff and do not understand how difficult it is to build a research team that is based on staff who have 12 month fixed-term appointments, is no incentive for creativity or innovation.

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Dr Chris Andrews commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

Mark,

My question is more pragmatic.  

We don't want a HRMIS that is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.

We would like to update to something better.  We are documenting what we want/need from a replacement system and are hoping HES and this discussion forum will help us to define that future.

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Deborah Lupton commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

Have a look at this: https://theconversation.com/academics-are-unhappy-its-time-to-transform-our-troubled-university-system-62682

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Higher Ed Services Pty Ltd (HES) commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

A big thank you to all of those making very worthwhile, interesting and challenging responses.  Really appreciated.

Go MindHivesmile

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Deborah Lupton commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

Wouldn't an 'employee-centric system'  necessarily involve recognising the need to alleviate the ill-effects of 'highly restrictive management tools'?

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Dr Chris Andrews commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

It might help progress matters if we restate the question.  

The current discussion, although interesting, swings wildly from employee centric systems through to systems seen as highly restrictive management tools.

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Mark Cantor commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

A similar question,

"There is a reasonable motivation to achieve the following:
  • Increased adoption and use of HR metrics to drive attraction/retention, performance and aspirations and to gain a complete picture of an employee’s capabilities"

    How might a HR professional gain a picture of an employee’s capabilities, if that employee is a physics professor? Or similar?

    How do we 'picture' or measure the following:
  • teaching ability (popularity with students, empathy, communication skills etc) 
  • research capability (are some areas of research more valuable than others and is this dependant on university)
  • prestige in the academic community (to attract other researchers)
  • capability to write and attract grants and funding
  • capability to manage a research team?

 

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Mark Cantor commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

“Gain substantial operational efficiency, improve service delivery”

What does this actually mean and how does a university measure it?      

I would like to think it doesn’t boil down to the ratio of fees collected to course delivery cost.

 

How does this relate with an employee’s desires?

 

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Mark Cantor commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

I come from a very different place to most of you and hence am going to follow with a controversial statement.

Myself and most employees I have worked with would consider themselves victims of the HR department rather than in anyway being served or benefited by the HR dept.

I am a retired engineer, and my last role was as a global operational reliability engineer for a global explosives company. My contract was a fairly modern performance and objectives based affair with SMART objectives, that ranged from individual through to corporate success. It was fully automated, from annual setting through to measurement, review, bonus allocation and annual increase. It also included a very underutilized career progression and training component.

Everyone hated it yet still performed their jobs to the best of their ability in spite of it. Most middle management agreed that the objectives were often counterproductive.

Poor HCM performance by the company not only made employees unhappy, it actually killed some, and potentially the customer, not to mention damaging the environment.

One of the major factors behind this issue was that the HR department and executives had little if any understanding of the day to day tasks people in the organisation and how they affected the core business and long term performance of the organisation.

An example is the Gulf Oil Disaster. The oil platform had just been acknowledged for achieving a new safety record based on Safety KPIs and objectives.

I think this supports the argument that we need to actually understand what motivates the employees and academics. Not just re-imagine existing HR paradigms.

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Mark Cantor is now contributing to this challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

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Mark Cantor commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

Hello all, like Karen this is my first contribution to Mindhive.

I’ve gotten carried away typing so I’ll make several posts to make comments easier.

As an introductory comment, I believe that for this project to be truly successful and not just shelfware, we need to consider and understand the very complex area of intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation.

Many if not most highly intelligent people such as academics are intrinsically motivated and in fact, extrinsic motivation can actually demotivate such people. Yet many HCM processes are founded on economic “rational actor” theory and hence extrinsic motivators such as cash.

This comment comes from personal experience and some academic research into, “How do management performance agreements affect process safety?” There is considerable research in this area, with a desire to develop HCM? tools to prevent such events as the Gulf Oil Disaster. The root cause of many such events can be found in the executive objectives and subsequent culture.

Hence one of the very first questions to ask are, what are the university’s objectives and motivations and similarly what are the employees and academics?

If they do not align (and odds on they don’t) then I actually think it would be nice to see some new out of the box thinking.

Mark

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Deborah Lupton is now contributing to this challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

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Deborah Lupton commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

The problem starts with the term 'Human Capital Management'. Why are people being reduced to 'capital' that should be 'managed'? The above blurb also describes a 'gig economy' as if this is a desirable aspect of academic work. As a critical social researcher, I draw attention to the problems of the corporatisation of the university, in which academics are viewed as providing 'services' to their 'paying customers' (students), are increasingly subject to precarious employment conditions in which they cannot plan for the future, take on mortgages, are forced to exist in commuting relationships and so on. Academics are becoming increasingly demoralised as they are monitored, measured and audited to within an inch of their lives, in a context in which volume of publications and grant dollars won are valued above high-quality and innovative scholarship that may in fact challenge the assumptions and demands of government and industry rather than pandering to them. Academics have had enough of HR systems that set out to bully and punish them for not meeting unrealistic KPIs.

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Ann Houston is now contributing to this challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

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Ann Houston commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

I believe that an agile project style HCM system is needed.  I like Roger Tregear's model (see Library) because:

  • It addresses the need for vision and long term leadership and cultures
  • It is customer, end-user and employee centric
  • The 'doing' part can be agile
  • There is a focus on genuine feedback loops through application and dissemination of research/knowledge
  • Robust governance structures and processes help to maintain standards, accountability, team/cultural cohesion, transparency and intellectual capital

The key to success here is in effective engagement between the 'leaders', 'doers' and 'supporters'.  This requires deep respect and ongoing interest in each other's work.  The university hierarchies will need to be blown away because of the interdependence required to succeed in the future.

 

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Karlene Mercuur is now contributing to this challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

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Dr Chris Andrews commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

The HR Management Framework, taken from the University HR Standards Project (22 Australian Universities) can be see here:

http://www.hrstandards.com.au/universities-hr-benchmarking-project-2011

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Karen Desira commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

Hi everyone, this is my first contribution to Mindhive, nice to meet you.

 

I can see we have many different takes on this big topic. I'm going to firstly state the position I am coming from in the hope that this adds contexts to my comments, and also invites others to explain their concepts and models in straightforward language for my benefit. My analytical/formal education is from business and from social ecology; my work experience is in commercial HR operations. My skill set includes process lead and change management for HRIS upgrades and mods. I agree with Mike about the benefits that Systems Thinking (Senge) can bring to our dialogue. I think Scott is suggesting we consider taking a System Architecture view across the many challenges in the brief; also important. Naturally, like everyone else, I am very keen to arrive at the shared vision Chris suggests.

 

One big and belated lesson for me was provided by our ‘non-HR’ HRIS manager who gave me the diagram below. It’s a capability model (used by IT process designers). I saw it and realised it was another way to look at a HR function chart (the kind that informs work and structure design), and you could also say it resembles a value stream map for HR. Let’s see if we can find some diagrammatic common ground here, or in any other graphics other can share? For example, we could have a crack at assembling the components in the brief into some kind of functional map. What do you think?

 

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Philip Mead is now contributing to this challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

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Terence Tan is now contributing to this challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

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Terence Tan commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

When you say:

The issue is that most [universities] are dealing with the problem individually.  The challenge is to understand how much of this is being considered across the sector and what the opportunities are for collectively dealing with the problem.

Then for people in government ICT, we immediately think shared services. (And all the baggage that term comes with!)

A certain Large ERP Vendor is proposing a shared service HR function for government. Search the web for "public sector model agency" to see what they think. You could reasonably expect a lot of the ideas to transfer to the education sector.

Note that a shared HR function isn't guaranteed to be "disruptive". However it is guaranteed to be shared...

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Stephen Callaghan is now contributing to this challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

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Karen Desira is now contributing to this challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

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Peter Holtmann is now contributing to this challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

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Peter Holtmann commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

Here are some thoughts on how human capital is being transformed in global corporates:

Digital solutions allow HR to move selected processes in to the social sphere. Ideas such as induction, on-boarding and talent identification/acquisition prior to employment are now becoming conversational. The idea is to move the risk of human capital to before the front door of the employer, rather than employing it and creating a "fix" once probation finishes.

Digital portfolios to career development build engagement, create a contract of development between employee and employer and ensure capabilities are delivered for future use.

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Mike Metcalfe is now contributing to this challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

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Dr Chris Andrews commented on the challenge Modernising HR Service Delivery in Australian Universities

What would be useful is a HR Framework diagram that describes the components of a system and how those components fit together. A shared vision beats a shared hallucination hands down ... 

 

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Challenge Progress

  • Impact Reported

Impact Phase

  • Online discussion, editing & synthesis
  • Panel Selected

Consultation Phase

  • Solution drafted
  • Crowd gathered
  • Context Published
  • Challenge published

Framing & Gathering Phase

Hiver

Scott Boulton Senior Business Consultant
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Stephen Callaghan Senior Consultant
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Dr Chris Andrews Director of Human Resources, Bond University
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Karen Desira Head of Organisational Development & Learning
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Terence Tan ICT Architect
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Karlene Mercuur Human Resources Policy Specialist
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Peter Holtmann Blue Mountains City Council
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Mike Metcalfe Consultant
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Philip Mead Professor and Chair of Australian Literature
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Ann Houston Director - Integra Management Services
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Deborah Lupton Centenary Research Professor and leader of the Smart Technology Living Lab
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Mark Cantor Retired Engineer & Health Consumer Representative
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Carolyn Troup QUT
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Peter Grimbeek Statistics & Methods Counsellor
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Documents associated with this challenge

File name File type Date uploaded Size (KB)
Bersin Digital HR for 2017
.pdf
7/17/2017 1,096
Global Human Capital Trends 2016
.pdf
7/17/2017 5,810
Tregear-Practical-Process-The-Case-for-BPA-Nov-2014.pdf
.pdf
8/9/2017 228
IT capability mode.jpg
.jpg
8/9/2017 80
 

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