HR office: From personnel to human capital

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TERESITA TANHUECO-TUMAPON

WE who have been in the universities much earlier than this generation remember one office which may have been among the primary offices applicants for a position had to deal with. I refer to the then Personnel Office. For non-academic position applicants, the Personnel Office was likely the first and sole office to visit, and which was assigned to interview, appoint and keep records of employees. Teaching positions applicants usually were to meet, just like at present, either the appropriate college dean or academic department chairman or both. If accepted, these offices instruct the successful applicants to submit all the required documents to the Personnel Office.

As usual, times change. The increasing importance of an institution’s manpower as a prime resource has caused the Personnel Office to evolve into the Human Resource Office. A changed perspective on personnel as human capital from the popular viewpoint of business has found its way to universities. As we may have come across in our readings, educational institutions borrow concepts from other life areas. Strategic planning in universities was a concept borrowed from business which the latter borrowed from the military. University planning offices, drawing from business, began to work on MB’s in their strategic plans. The changed concept of personnel to human capital in an environment which has accepted and considered Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory, may have also originated from a business viewpoint. Thus, successful universities consider their employees as not mere cogs in the machine; developing them is an investment, not a cost. They are the best resources who can spur organizational success or failure.

HRM to HRD. HRM drew from the Personnel Office mainly “organizing administrative tasks of staff/workers”—“ record keeping, dealing with employee wages, salaries and benefits,” ensuring the institution complies “with all the labor laws applicable to them.”<www.whatishumanresource.com/hrm -vs-personnel-management>. “Seniority and working hours decided what remuneration is proper.” The evolving human capital perspective had human resource managers give importance as well, to “talent and skills” on “deciding on the value of the job.” <www.whatishumanresource.com/hrm-vs-personnel-management>. Skills and knowledge matching organizational needs gained increasing focus on the employee’s development. Given the title of HRD (Human Resource Development), the office strives “towards activities that advance staff members’ competencies so they have the skills to assume tasks aligned with the strategic direction of the university.” However, “if the strategic direction is not clear or HRD activities are not (aligned) with the strategy, HRD activities become inefficient and useless, even if they are excellent.” As one source stressed, “it is crucial to understand the role of higher education and the current flow of …change…to figure out what role career development should play in HEIs.” <donau.booktype.pro/human-resource-management…/human-resource-development-I…>.

Employee clusters in universities. There are two general clusters of workers: the academic and the general administration clusters. Development needs of both have to be taken care of. This implies that the task of developing a university’s human resource is not at all simple. The academic cluster compose the academics (teachers) and the academic support (registrars, guidance counselors and librarians) and who are usually under the purview of the VP for Academic Affairs (VPAA). The rest of the employees have general administration functions and the overall official is the VP for Administration. These two clusters have role development needs quite different from each other.


Welding together the threefold functions of the academic cluster. HEI’s “are mandated not only to teach (instruction) but also to produce knowledge (research) and apply the fruits of the intellect to benefit the greater community (extension).”<http://www.pinoyexchange.com/forums/showthread.php?t=655535>Toillustrate,a dengue survey research in adopted communities can better specify what healthcare expertise they most need. Research on children of single parents which reveal the need for home counseling can be appropriately provided by the university’s psychology/guidance and counselling departments. Another, on poverty levels, may indicate training needs for startups, hence will draw from the expertise of the business/entrepreneurship department. Findings on the level of knowledge of LGU officials on federalism would need the expertise of the political science department for the said officials to better understand the concept. In all these, implementers will be students guided by mentors in departments concerned. Utilizing this threefold function, including a fourth—production—as recognized in SUCs, secures academics from teaching outmoded realities and conducting extension undertakings outside an HEI’s expertise.

Proper office for HRD responsibility. The VPAA Office, as the top supervising office of the academic cluster, could better take responsibility for the continuing professional development (CPD) needs of the academic cluster. Teaching and Learning centers as support units for research and enhancement of academic practice are popular support mechanisms for this responsibility. Visit sites such as https://www.abdn.ac.uk/cad/–the University of Aberdeen Centre for Academic Development, a leading center for “staff seeking to further develop their teaching, learning and research practice.” Relief of the HRD office from CPD responsibilities for the academic cluster allows the HRD office to focus more on the training development needs of the non-academic cluster as well as to personal/spiritual and organizational needs of both clusters.

Distributing HRD responsibility to proper offices, not necessarily as suggested herewith, helps HEIs to better focus on the management and development needs of all its human assets under the broadening term of “human capital”— “the collective value of the organization’sintellectual capital (competencies, knowledge, and skills).” This capital is the organization’s “constantly renewable source of creativity and innovativeness and imparts it the ability to change.” <http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/human-capital.html>. Strategic HRD/CPD helps maintain for the university a competitive advantage.

ttumapon@liceo.edu.ph

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