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University of Copenhagen
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Opinion

What happened to the ‘Human’ in ‘Human Resources’ at this University?

The human part of human resources is likely to be lost if UCPH gathers all its HR employees into large centers, at a distance from the people they support, writes Mie Abildgaard Kristensen

I am an HR employee at the Niels Bohr Institute and I will not recognize my job if I have to work in one of the new large HR-centers.

Part of my work is not behind a computer screen, but among colleagues. I, personally, have a lot to lose if I can no longer take my daily stroll past wonderful researchers, spirited workshop staff, and all my other wonderful colleagues. But my claim is that the University of Copenhagen has a lot to lose also. Both in human terms and in financial terms.

An attentive HR employee can pick up on things like the stress of a colleague and act on it before a breakdown – something that is good for the employee and good for the University

The donkey work can easily be done from an HR centre. But you cannot e-mail or message your way to the human part of things. If we no longer have our daily stroll around the departments, we will no longer be able to intervene when our colleagues need a chat. You never build the same relationship of trust with someone who only has your name on an e-mail, and who only drops by every now and then.

An attentive HR employee can pick up on things like the stress of a colleague and act on it before a breakdown – something that is good for the employee and good for the University.

The same day that we got the news about the HR centers, one of ‘my’ apprentices was being celebrated following a successful test. I would really have liked to have been there as I am so proud of Rikke who had followed a rough path towards her final education. I wrote an e-mail to Rikke to congratulate her.

Rikke’s answer literally had me in tears. Rikke has subsequently elaborated on her thoughts after she heard about the HR centers. With Rikke’s permission I quote this:

“What the HR department has meant to me as an apprentice:

I started as an insecure young woman without much confidence. I came in to the interview with many more people than I have ever tried before.

In this great mass of strangers there was a woman whose eyes and body language made me relax.

The interview went well and I ended up being hired. In connection with the appointment I had a lot of questions, which she explained calmly and professionally, so it all fell into place in the end

During my training I was struck by an illness, and it affected my desire to get up in the morning and come to work. If it had not been for an HR employee like Mie, who must have a sixth sense for when you need support, I would have thrown in the towel and given up on my education.

Something like a short visit to the workshop, a smile, time to listen or an encouraging email on the bad days made the difference. I have now completed the training with a top grade of 12 on my certificate.

But I have also come out of this as a person who believes more in herself. I am stronger mentally and ready to face up to the world. Yes, this may not be the main task of HR. But without HR I would not have made it through my training. Without Mie’s support I had that day not been ready to face up to the world with my back straight and a belief in myself. I owe HR and especially Mie a huge thank you for helping me through my training, and for the steps it took.

This support and close contact which I needed in my everyday working life, I would probably not have got if I had started after the establishment of the HR centers. So that’s my luck that I got it at the time that I did. However, I admit I feel sorry for those who in the future will not be picked up before it is too late, simply because the people in HR do not have the time, the close contact and the trust of the employees who they should be taking care of.”

Every time I read Rikke’s mail, it is with mixed feelings. I am happy and proud because Rikke persevered and came through. But it is also with a feeling of apprehension and sadness. As it is exactly this part of it, that makes me so fond of my work.

I think that they are removing ‘my’ Human from the Human Resources, and then I honestly do not see what the point is anymore.

uni-avis@adm.ku.dk

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