5 Strategies to Develop a Transparent and Humanistic Human Resources Department

Posted By: Sandy Wiley Skinner AASPA Blog ,

Our continued work in supporting teachers and staff in the Human Resources (HR) Department is hugely grounded in fully understanding and supporting the people we serve.  Yes, the HR Department is a customer service function of the school district and should foundationally create processes that are comprehensive for all.  It is in this department that people can/will determine if they want to begin and/or continue employment with your school district.  In addition, we have to understand the natural divide and/or tension that exists between the employee and the employer.  This tension is natural, as in any hierarchical relationship.  As a human resources professional, understanding these two points are crucial to having a solid perspective when working with staff.  

Strategy #2:  Understanding your employees to better serve and empower them

Typically, the employee’s perspective is going to be grounded in ‘I do not want to lose my job’ and this person (the HR representative) is the one who holds my future in their hands.  What, however, is the neutral truth?  Does the HR department really hold their job in its hands, is it the employee in control or is it a combination of the two?  The reality is that it is both.  

In considering this natural tension, as the HR professional, the initial burden is upon you.  Consider how you share your mission and vision.  Also, what are your primary objectives?  Is your district focusing on any specific initiatives?  Does your district have a code of conduct for how they support children?  These are just some initial questions you are to ask yourself and ensure the answers are embedded within the training and/or onboarding you provide.  Typically, the onboarding will occur at the district level with an HR professional.  Each school or location will provide their own form of training.  Please be clear with the building administrators on the HR topics they should include in their training(s) and with new employees that there are expectations at both the school and district level.  While these expectations may vary, they should all be aligned with the mission and vision as its foundation.  Note, that as the employer, it is your responsibility to train the staff on all of the necessary rules, policies, regulations and practices. There is no way we can expect the staff to comply with processes that have not been thoroughly explained.  

Being a school district makes this work as an HR professional a little more complex.  This is due to the fact that we work with children.  Children are primary and the reason we report to work.  They should be at the center of all decision making.  The onboarding process cannot simply be about benefits and salary.  You have to ensure that you include all aspects of working with children and in a school district.  Include your policies related to staff and student conduct.  Ensure staff understand what it means to be safe around children and how to interact with other staff members for the benefit of students.  

In partnership with the school district a new employee should assume the responsibility of understanding the employer.  Their burden is ongoing.  In applying for a job, each person should research and learn about the organization.  They are to ensure the school district’s core values are in alignment with theirs.  All school district’s policies are listed on their websites.  It is their responsibility to consider and comply with all rules, policies, regulations, practices, etc.  When they accept a job, they are in agreement with those stated policies, etc.   Of course employees are to report to work on time, comply with their supervisor requests, follow safety procedures, etc. and as they matriculate through the work day and have experiences at varied levels, they are to fully understand how to function in those environments.  Ownership lies upon them to ask further questions and clarify any points.  As an HR representative, we are to ensure we answer those questions immediately and accurately.

Remembering the humanistic portion of HR provides employees with all they need in order to be successful.  It should be your perspective to fully enter into a long term relationship with each employee you hire, unless the initial terms are temporary.  With this commitment, make every effort to ensure each employee has what they need to be successful.  Be accessible, informative, available, and transparent.  You never want your employees to be at the liberty of the HR department for immediate and basic information.  

Support them, believe in them, and empower them to access the tools you provide them.  Ensure all policies, practices, their personal information and documentation are accurate and readily available.  Most importantly, trust in them; you hired them.  Let them know you trust in them not just by your words but also your actions.   

Again, these tips will assist you in creating a more humanistic version of the human resources department.  Thanks for staying connected as step three (3) will provide you with more insight.