From the Desk: John Whelan shares updates about university-wide HR2020 review

May 11, 2016

In October 2015, we launched HR2020, a comprehensive review of the entire human resources function across all of Indiana University. The underlying motivation for this project has been to ensure that HR helps employees, departments and campuses accomplish their most important objectives, while also creating an environment where faculty and staff members feel engaged in their work and valued by our university.

john whelan


With this focus, it was only fitting to start HR2020 by asking faculty and staff members for input. A survey posed two questions related to a spectrum of HR services: How important is each HR service for you to be successful in your role? And to what extent is HR currently meeting your needs with each service? Multiple focus groups on every campus helped provide specific examples to supplement the survey feedback. 

An initial takeaway was that survey respondents and focus-group participants appreciated being asked their opinion, and they provided honest and constructive feedback. By and large, our faculty and staff want HR to be effective and responsive, and they clearly said they need HR to be effective in order to help them do their jobs better.

Other important themes highlighted in the feedback include:

  • HR needs to operate consistently throughout all of IU -- no more silos.
  • Staff members are craving more professional development and assistance with career advancement.
  • The process for recruiting and hiring staff and faculty is inconsistent and frustrating and must be simpler, easier and faster.
  • The systems, structures and philosophy for managing staff compensation are confusing and should be carefully reviewed.
  • HR is largely reactive and should focus more effort on proactively anticipating the needs of individuals, departments and campuses.
  • Managers and supervisors throughout IU require more training and skill development.

To process all the feedback from the survey and focus groups, we held a full-day workshop in December with the entire HR community (nearly 200 people attended) which helped us identify themes and priorities for the future. Following that, a smaller HR steering team met for 12 full-day sessions between January and April to help determine the best way for HR to organize so we can be responsive to the feedback. On April 27, President Michael A. McRobbie helped us kick off another full-day workshop for the IU HR community where we announced the new HR delivery model.

Our new HR organization will begin by emphasizing the HR staff who are embedded in all of the departments, schools and campuses throughout IU. There is a tremendous opportunity to create consistency and focus on proactively identifying ways for HR to better support these units and all of their employees.

The second component will be the creation of a university-wide HR operations team with a focus on streamlining processes and promoting customer service. Included in this group will be a fully staffed customer care center that will be easily accessible by all IU faculty and staff via phone, email, walk-in and possibly live-chat. 

Finally, the third leg of the stool will be several Centers of Expertise with deep knowledge in areas such as compensation, talent acquisition, employee relations, talent and organizational development, and benefits. These teams will develop systems, policies and programs that respond to the needs identified by the many HR professionals within all of the units throughout IU.

Now that we have identified our HR delivery model, we will spend the next several months building the necessary systems and training our staff members for the future. We are very excited about the direction HR is headed, and we can’t wait to contribute more fully to the success of Indiana University.  We are especially grateful for the valuable feedback we have received to chart our path forward.

Read more Headlines stories »