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HR Design project seizes an opportunity

March 9, 2012 By Greg Bump

University of Wisconsin–Madison Vice Chancellor Darrell Bazzell said this week that the chance to reshape the university’s human resources  system doesn’t come along frequently.

Image: HR Design


“The ability to design a new human resources structure is one of the prizes that came out of the last budget process,” Bazzell told the UW System Board of Regents Thursday.

“We need to make sure we get it right. This opportunity doesn’t come along often.”

The 2011-13 state budget bill included provisions that allow UW–Madison to design a human resources structure separate from the state and UW System. The UW System has also been granted flexibility to create its own HR structure.

Mary Czynszak-Lyne, office administrator for the Letters & Science Honors Program and vice president for AFSCME Local 2412, told the Regents the selection of work teams for the HR Design project has been inclusive of employee groups across the campus.

“This process provides the ability to bring all of the voices to the table and to ensure our different perspectives are represented,” Czynszak-Lyne, who is serving on the project’s performance management team, said.

In prepared remarks submitted to the Regents, Phil O’Leary, Department of Engineering Professional Development chairman, said his work with the project’s diverse workforce team has been rewarding.

“It is refreshing to be part of a work team representing a broad cross-section of university staff, who are respectful during deliberations and friendly towards each other,” O’Leary said. “We all work well together.”

On Wednesday, Bazzell spoke to the Legislative Task Force on UW System Restructuring about the HR Design project.

Bazzell told the panel the vision for the revised system is one of efficiency, flexibility, consistency and responsiveness.

The goal of the project is to build a human resource structure that meets the unique needs of a world-class research university, Bazzell said. That includes having the flexibility to reward performance, while also creating common business practices that are consistent across employee groups, he said.

Bazzell, a member of the restructuring task force, also co-chairs the University Personnel Systems Task Force, a collaborative effort between UW–Madison and UW System.

UW System Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Workforce Diversity Alan Crist told the Regents the project is “a great opportunity to address human resource issues unique to higher education.”

Bazzell told the task force that the work teams are “wrestling with different concepts” and that he expects the teams to come forward with “a menu of possibilities” in the next few weeks.

Those options will then be vetted in employee engagement events (see accompanying article) on campus, Bazzell said.

Seven of the 11 work teams will offer draft recommendations at the end of this month. Bazzell said the draft recommendations will be vetted by the campus community at additional forums.

Final recommendations from those seven Phase I work teams are tentatively due May 1.

Bazzell said he also expects extensive discussions with campus governance groups throughout the project.

It’s too early to tell how the new HR systems for UW–Madison and UW System will differ, Bazzell said. It’s likely there will be more similarities than differences, with the ultimate goal being consistency while still serving the distinctive needs of each institution.