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HR — Starting 1st June, University of Copenhagen has put together all the staff who perform the same HR tasks in three centres. It is a huge organizational change, and has been exactly as hard as expected, but it also promises benefits.
“You could say we are pioneers in creating a common UCPH,” says HR centre manager Gitte Korsgaard, smiling and opening the door to the brand new office space at South Campus.
The removal boxes are still stashed around the hallways, and the interior is minimalist. Everything indicates that the new residents have just moved in, but the move actually took place before the summer vacation and on 1st June, when the new HR (human ressources) centre ‘South City’ – servicing the faculties Humanities, Social Sciences, Law and Theology and the Central Administration – was opened.
A recruitment case should look like a recruitment case.
Gitte Korsgaard, HR Centre Manager
“We have processed more than 2,500 cases while we were building the centre, so we have been really busy to be quite honest. So far, it has been all about keeping the operation afloat so that cases are resolved and staff are paid their wages on time,” says Gitte Korsgaard.
The three new centres at the Faculty of Science, Faculty of Health and Medicine and South Campus take care of the recruitment of new employees, changes in salary payments, refunds, maternity leave, agreements for seniors, and personnel legal assistance to UCPH management.
She explains that it has proven to be just as complicated as expected to set up a joint university-wide HR.
Each institution used to have its own HR staff, and only the employment contracts were centralized by the Central Administration in Nørregade.
We have gained insight into how different the solutions for the same task had been built up at the various faculties and departments.
Gitte Korsgaard, HR Centre Manager
Different cultures, habits and forms of organization have developed, and users have become accustomed to different service levels. They are now trying to merge all of this.
“We have gained insight into how different the solutions for the same task had been built up at the various faculties and departments. Some of the solutions are amazing and this is great, but there are also things where a lawyer will now say, ‘what the hell have you been doing?,’ explains Gitte Korsgaard.
She adds that they try to solve all the tasks in a standard manner and eliminate all kinds of incompatible archiving systems and spreadsheets so that they in the future can deliver comparable key figures to management.
“A recruitment case should look like a recruitment case,” she says.
Legal officer Rikke Dall, who used to work at the Faculty of Law, agrees that a lot of new learning has taken place.
They use four to five different computer systems in their daily work. The recruitment system is completely new, and ScanPas – the UCPH staff management system – is to be replaced by Epos by 2018.
“One person can learn it in two months and another may need half a year, but it’s a big help that I can now ask a colleague if I need help. I think we have been open, even though it is harder for some than for others,” says Rikke Dall.
She adds that it gives an enormous professional satisfaction to learn new things and to get the opportunity to complete the tasks.
Gitte Korsgaard does not hide the fact that the shift has been difficult for some employees, as their professional identity was linked to the department they were employed in.
“The honest answer is that there has been a lot of frustration and sadness in leaving the place and the tasks that you are good at. But there has also been joy and good cheer when we got things to work. You need to understand that the staff have been extremely good at their jobs, and then they are suddenly thrown in at the deep end with new tasks where he or she thinks ‘how on Earth am I going to do this.’ This leads to pressure,” says the HR Centre Manager.
She says that they are working on creating an open and honest dialogue between the management and the employees at the new centre.
“It should be OK to go to your manager and say ‘I cannot figure this out’. Not everyone has the same HR skills, so we try to provide individual tasks that match abilities and slowly build on this through courses and continuing education,” says Gitte Korsgaard.
HR employee Rusan Elmazi, who used to work at the Faculty of Social Sciences, enjoys having a professional management that only deals with HR so he has someone to go to if he cannot fulfill all the tasks, and needs help in prioritizing.
In addition, information has been improved and they can decide things themselves in their own section, he says. He is also happy for the new opportunities in skills development.
“I have already got new tasks and skills that I can write on to my resume,” he says.
Gitte Korsgaard expects great benefits to come from the new HR organization when everything is fully in place.
A recruitment case used to be ‘cut in two’ in the sense that the department took on part of the process, while the Central Administration took care of the other part. It should shorten processing times and benefit the users that the same file manager is attached to each case all the way, so users no longer have any doubts over who they should contact.
In addition, it will improve quality that there are now better opportunities for skills development, and that the centre now has attached specialists.
“The staff at the departments used to do HR tasks in, say, 20 per cent of their working hours, and personnel management the rest of their time. They could do a little bit of everything. Now we specialize so we have someone who knows all about maternity leave, professor recruitment and the DVIP area (part-time scientific staff, ed.),” says Gitte Korsgaard. She hopes that users will be patient and back up the new centres in the difficult start-up phase.
“We need to build up the users’ confidence in us being able to solve the task, even if we do not know everything about the department. We need the departments to be with us if this is going to be a success, but we can first assess this after we have been in operation for one year,” she says.