It’s also important for colleges and universities to retain the faculty they hire.
“It’s not productive to bring people in and have them leave a year or two later, so you have to deliver on your promise,” he explains. Toward that end, the CHRO must also be a “chief cultural officer” who can forge an attractive work environment that keeps employees happy and conveys to faculty how much the institution values their work.
An understanding of the latest HR technologies.
A successful CHRO not only has to be fluent in all aspects of HR administration, Thornburgh says; he or she also must understand the latest practices and technologies.
“Employees are used to technology advances in other aspects of their lives, and they become frustrated if their employer doesn’t deliver the same seamless experience they take for granted every day,” he says.
For instance, employees want to be able to fill out forms, get up-to-date information, and complete transactions from the convenience of a mobile phone. They don’t want to navigate awkward, paper-driven processes for dealing with benefits-related changes or issues. If colleges or universities haven’t done this already, Thornburgh says, they should invest in sophisticated, user-driven HR platforms that “transform how employees interact with their employer.”
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These systems also provide a wealth of employee information that can help campus leaders make more strategic hiring decisions. For instance, they can help leaders understand the diversity of their workforce and “where there might be gaps or opportunities,” he says.
An ability to communicate with leadership and other stakeholders.
Today’s CHRO “is being looked at by university leadership as a full partner in making the institution an attractive place to work,” Thornburgh says. “At a growing number of institutions, this person is sitting at the table with administration, and so they need to be comfortable in providing their input to the president and senior leadership.”
A CHRO also must be prepared to deal with unexpected issues that arise. “The CHRO is often front and center when there are situations such as protests over benefits and policies,” Thornburgh says. “These are high-profile incidents, and the HR leader has to be the point person to deal with those calmly and effectively, with a sense of competence.”