Case Study: Conducting an HR Function Assessment

How can a human resources function at a top tier education institution increase and enhance the value provided for the people it services?    

At a Glance 

Higher Education Institution

Increase value and improve customer service

Consulting Project

The Opportunity 

An internally-facing HR function was struggling to meet the service needs of the people it served. Staff in the department were getting burned out and leaving, and the people they served were frequently experiencing errors, roadblocks, and long wait times. We were asked to conduct an assessment of the function to identify causes and implement solutions to help break the cycle and improve the experience for all. 

The Solution 

We began by collecting qualitative and quantitative data to understand the experiences of both team members and stakeholders. This included interviews with staff, faculty, work-study students, and department leaders, plus team members in the function itself. We collected and analyzed department structure and roles, processes, systems, workflows, and staffing, and benchmarked this information against industry standards. 

The assessment revealed multiple causes and proposed solutions including: 

  • Creating more standardized processes and guidelines 
  • Enabling more distributed decision-making 
  • Increasing information sharing and communication 
  • Reducing department turnover by increasing opportunities for growth and development 
  • Adding team members with key capabilities to department staff 

The assessment included an implementation roadmap that prioritized solutions taking into account resource and budget constraints, as well as opportunities to break the cycle through some quick wins. 

The assessment included an implementation roadmap that prioritized solutions.

One of the solutions we designed and implemented was a self-service guide with step-by-step processes and directions for the most frequent service needs and requests. This guide successfully freed up staff time and enabled more distributed decision-making. It enabled the department to receive the information it needed at the start of the process instead of the end, which reduced user-based errors. It also reduced the number of service questions and calls that required team responses. Finally, it empowered people to be able to access, understand, and submit information, while communicating accurate expectations for lead and response time. This enabled the team to provide more service, coaching, and counsel for nuanced situations that required their expertise and personal touch, which also increased overall job satisfaction. 

The Impact

There was recognition among other departments that the challenges were due to a system problem and not a people problem. The function was able to break the cycle of putting out fires and put some needed processes and systems in place. Over time, the team stabilized, and the function continued to enhance processes, communication, and accessibility of information.