The Challenges Faced by Human Resources in Higher Education
Rayanne Thorn
April 12, 2017

HR in Higher Ed

Facing unique financial pressures, colleges and universities must have HR departments that operate efficiently and at a high level. They must move past basic administrative roles and become a major organizational influence. In order to combat these pressures effectively, it may help to identify some key challenges that cross the path of human resource professionals at institutions of higher learning.

What are the Key Challenges?

  • Budget – HR budgets in higher education have tended to be 50 – 75 % lower than those found in other industries, according to a study by Aon. In addition, state budget shortfalls have made it necessary for all departments to cut back.
  • Rising Healthcare Costs – The same Aon study found that increasing healthcare costs are a top concern for Higher Ed HR.
  • Recruiting – Attracting and Retaining new employees is also a great concern. These institutions will need the next generation workforce to fill open or expanded faculty and staff positions to meet their ever-changing needs.
  • Leadership Development and Succession Planning – As the competition for candidates heats up and the current workforce ages, leadership dev and succession planning will need to become a priority.
  • Increased Automation and Use of Technology – Outdated paper-based processes tend to reduce operational efficiencies, so incorporating, integrating, and implementing new technology will become even more vital.

What Will HighHigher Ed HRer Ed HR Need to Do?

To fully meet those challenges, HR leaders in higher education will need to move beyond administrative roles and take their place among their institution’s leading influences. “Every university or college is faced with cost pressure, so HR has to be an expert on operational efficiency and high-performing cultures,” says Scott Nostaja, national human capital practice leader at Sibson Consulting, which includes higher education HR consulting.
There’s a high level of predictable retirements coming, with a loss of intellectual capital,
so HR needs to be on top of succession.

A Guide for You

Dovetail has released this free guide, no cost – no email required – for HR pros in higher learning to better understand how they can combat these challenges by establishing alignment with their institution, as a whole and then implement a talent management strategy to take advantage of the benefits offered by HR technology.
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