Schools, colleges and universities are the three robust pillars of education. Although they cater to the needs of students at different levels, the essential functions and challenges are just about the same. Every educational institution, irrespective of its size, has to deal with the demands and needs of the educators, administrative staff and support workers.
Now that remote learning has become an accepted norm, many institutions have found it practical to lower their reliance on physical infrastructure. Even the teachers have mastered the practice of working from home. This doesn't mean that all institutions will follow suit. But this new trend will help transform how these institutions operate in the future.
The ones who remain resilient will thrive. But those who resist change will not only be left behind but also continue to face more hurdles in the coming days.
Here are some of the challenging areas of education that have been on the HR radar for a while.
When the recruitment process is predominantly manual, prospective candidates might experience delays and complexities during the selection stage. They may not know that the HR team is following archaic selection methods. As a result, candidates will be dissatisfied, and the institution will miss the opportunity to acquire the right talent from the job market.
Application tracking systems (ATS) can make the entire recruitment process smarter and faster through automation. The interaction between HR and candidates happens through the system, so everything is digitised and organised for everybody. The stakeholders also get to see and approve the CVs faster, so the candidates need not keep their fingers crossed for too long.
Poor working conditions, payroll inaccuracies and stymied growth can demotivate teachers and support staff in an educational institution. Remember, it's a field where many people work tirelessly for a ‘not-so-great' remuneration. The resulting drop in productivity and rise in employee turnover can increase recruitment and training costs.
Improvement of physical infrastructure is not the direct responsibility of HR. But they can certainly play their part in improving the work environment and enhancing motivation levels by introducing employee-centric processes and programs. They can use HR Software to raise the efficiency of multiple processes across the employee lifecycle. This, in turn, will help HR focus on initiatives to minimise employee turnover. The current work-from-home scenario has also made it easier to run rewards & wellness programs virtually.
Even the teachers would have a learning curve when they join a new institution. They also need to keep abreast of the latest trends in pedagogy and educational technology. Manual processes and outmoded training methods are not good enough to gauge their needs, expectations and effectiveness.
An HRMS solution can help onboard teachers and admin staff faster. Customisation of training programs happens quicker with a good learning management system. Also, there are AI-driven performance management systems that help track employee performance. When organisations deploy such tools, they’ll find it easier to gauge the employees' interest and capability to take on different challenges.
Not every institution, or HR, is fully prepared for the absence of a teacher or support team member. When day-to-day operations come to a standstill, students are the ones who are likely to be affected. Many HR departments that count on manual processes for managing attendance and leave could encounter this situation more often. This problem gets compounded in larger campuses with employees in different categories like permanent, contract, temporary, etc.
Automation solves several issues for HR. An HRMS platform can automate and streamline time-tracking, attendance & leave management, payroll management and more. The respective system modules ensure higher accuracy and efficiency in these functions. It is also easy to extract and present reports to the payroll team or management for better decision-making.
Whenever a new staff member is required, HR has to shoulder the onus of hiring, onboarding and supporting the member. While following these processes, HR has to maintain countless documents, files and folders. If the department follows the physical documentation process, time & resource wastage and expensive errors will become inevitable.
Universities in the West have deployed advanced HR technologies since they are aware of the immense potential of the HR function. Ironically, that's not the case in emerging countries where the accent is mainly on teaching and learning.
If an institution has to survive and thrive today, HR digitisation is an essential step. Growth implies an increase in headcount and documentation workload. Therefore, manual interventions must be minimised with an HRMS platform that streamlines processes, automates many functions and ensures easy compliance. The employee self-service (ESS) option allows new members to upload documents and fill out forms online. Besides saving time for HR, this provision helps the organisation save on costs.
It's not easy to stay connected with all the teachers and support staff in larger campuses.
Not many schools and colleges have the luxury of multiple conference rooms and frequent discussions between teachers and HR/administrative staff. Physical meetings and intermittent communication can't break down the silos that hamper collaboration.
Frequent and seamless communication is the way to enable improved peer interaction and collaborative problem resolution. Moreover, announcements and resource sharing become simpler with the deployment of the right tools. HR can leverage message boards and regular notifications for this purpose. When employees understand their organisation and its policies better, their confidence is bolstered.
A student-friendly institution has the edge over others in the education space. The best way to reach this milestone is by treating the teachers, administrators and support staff like the members of a growing family. When these members are empowered, they'll do what it takes to keep the students motivated. Aren't students the true ambassadors of their alma mater?
There's no doubt that technology is the engine that drives this whole phenomenon.
But progressive organisations know they cannot reach the ‘destination' without putting HR in the driver's seat