Letters to campus

March 2015

Dear Faculty and Staff:

During the past seven months, we have launched several new initiatives and programs from the Division of Human Capital Services, or HCS. With this letter, we will share some of what has already occurred and provide a preview of what's next.

The functions of human capital at Kansas State University are to serve as part of the institutional fabric needed to achieve our goal to become a Top 50 public research university by 2025. This is reflected in the overarching goals we have set for HCS:

  • Attract, develop, reward and retain a diverse and talented workforce
  • Foster a productive work environment where people feel valued
  • Support the changing nature of work and the workplace environment
  • Add value and reflect good stewardship of resources
  • Act fairly, ethically and be legally compliant
  • Understand the voice of the customer

Our work is guided by the AON Hewitt study recommendations made in 2013. While it has taken time to get started, we are well on our way to a more effective and efficient organizational structure. We are currently integrating the Division of Human Resources and Office of Institutional Equity within HCS. As mentioned in a recent message from Provost and Senior Vice President April Mason, the Office of Academic Personnel also will transition into HCS by this summer. Charlotte Self, director of employee relations, will coordinate closely with Susanna Valdovinos from the Office of the Provost to ensure a smooth transfer of duties.

During the transition from HR to HCS, we made a commitment that each employee who wanted a position at K-State would have that opportunity. This commitment was met as we work toward a structure with fewer layers and less redundancy.

Additionally, the Director's Roundtable was transferred to HCS from the Office of the President. Over the last several months, Shanna Legleiter, director of training and development, has offered innovative and thought-provoking training to our directors.

Our future success will depend on continuous improvement and listening to the voice of our customer — two key principles of Lean Six Sigma, a proven methodology to improve processes and systems. To date we have 18 employees, or 45 percent of the HCS team, who are certified with Lean Six Sigma training.

Faculty Senate asked us to look into a way to pay employees on nine-month regular appointments throughout the year. Alma Deutsch, director of the resource center and operations, and her team — Cynthia Sicard, Dennis Jones, Anna Carroll and Kristi Fronce — went to work to explore the options and found the optimal solution. While only 38 employees are currently participating in this plan, we hope that the community sees this as our good faith effort and our way of saying, "we hear you and we will develop solutions to meet your needs."

Amanda McDiffett, director of benefits, reviewed a survey administered by EBRI Retirement Confidence Survey in March 2013. According to the results, 55 percent of employees consider their current level of debt to be a problem. Amanda and her team consulted with TIAA –CREF and are now offering customized financial workshops for employees. Two workshops were offered in February — Starting Line, for those employees who are early in their career and Equally Prepared, for the LGBT community. Initial survey results suggest that these workshops were highly valuable for employees and their spouse/partners.

So, what's in store for the remainder of 2015?

Our top priority has been the challenge of improving the hiring process. Roberta Maldonado-Franzen, director of talent acquisition, and her newly formed team conducted a five-day Kaizen event with broad university representation. During the process, a more streamlined process was developed and we are working to implement the plan. Once the process is refined, we will move forward with automation to provide even better service.

Derek Smith, interim director of compensation and organizational effectiveness, has written a compensation philosophy with input from more than 1,000 employees. The philosophy is reflective of K-State's values, easy to understand and provides a compass for designing compensation plans. Our first priority for compensation plans focuses on university support staff. The next priorities are information technology, student life, unclassified positions and non-tenured faculty staff.

We will continue to keep you informed with periodic letters to campus. Please follow @KStatevphc on Twitter and check our evolving website. We welcome your suggestions to make K-State an even better place to work and learn.

Go Cats!

Kirk Schulz, president

Cheryl Johnson, vice president for human capital services