HR used to focus primarily on administrative tasks, such as hiring and managing benefits programs. The role then evolved into having functional experts in all areas of HR— talent acquisition, training and development, and labor relations. Now, HR is expected to be a partner to the organization and its strategies. We’re expected to understand the challenges, revenue streams, complexities, and external factors impacting higher education, and advise on decisions. We are brought to the table to discuss issues like the impact of tightened National Institute of Health funding on research administration, or how rising healthcare costs could affect fiscal spend on benefits. We weren’t invited to those meetings 10 years ago.
How are employees’ expectations different than 10 years ago?
We currently have more generations simultaneously participating in the workforce than has ever happened before in the history of the U.S. as an industrial nation. Needs and expectations are very different among those generations. For example, many baby boomers have wanted to work at the same organization for their entire careers. The newer generations want to be challenged with interesting work, use modern tools, and be recognized.
To remain innovative, an institution has to adopt new ways of solving problems and the infrastructure to support new approaches. This starts with having leadership that understands these generational differences and how to connect with different kinds of employees. HR plays a key role in helping leaders develop these skill sets.