HR Help Desk’s Special Importance in Higher Education

higher education

HR Admins already know the importance of a robust help desk solution being central to developing a comprehensive shared services program. HR Help Desk manages all employee interactions with HR from onboarding through off-boarding. HR Help Desk uncovers patterns of issues that can impact overall employee performance and productivity, by identifying even subtle warning signs. Ongoing harassment complaints, manager disputes, departmental unrest, and other critical issues come to light in help desk reporting and analytics.

So what is different in the higher education industry? College and university campuses not only support hundreds and even thousands of employees, those employees interact closely with student populations in numbers that far exceed the employee base. Even a small university with just a few thousand employees can have 3-5 times as many students on campus. And those students on work-study are also technically employees of the institution.

Other businesses may engage closely with the public (i.e., the retail sector), but none can compare with higher education when it comes to potential personnel issues and complaints. Students frequently bond with their professors, and professors often develop closer relationships with special needs students or especially higher performing students. The same holds true with students and coaches. If those relationships sour, accusations can occur unexpectedly, and be quite serious in nature. HR must be prepared to intervene immediately to assess the situation and document all of the details and supporting materials in order to minimize the negative impact on the institution.

Common student complaints are:

  • Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Title IX violations
  • Fraternity/sorority hazing
  • Incompetence
  • Unfair grading and student performance evaluations
  • Work-study complaints
  • General intimidation
  • Professor tardiness
  • Unresponsive to student’s needs
  • Sports recruiting violations

During the case management process, HR must determine:

  • The formal relationship between the student and professor (i.e., does the student have a class with the teacher)
  • Do they know each other previously
  • Have there been similar (or any) complaints about the instructor
  • Has the student logged complaints about any other staff
  • What are the student’s demands
  • Is/has there been evidence of a consensual physical relationship
  • Does the professor have known racial bias tendencies
  • Who (staff or students) can corroborate either side of the story
  • Is arbitration the right solution
  • Were any laws broken
  • What is reasonable disciplinary action
  • Is the accused tenured

These and other critical questions must be answered and appropriately documented to ensure the case is resolved fairly, and with minimal risk of escalation. No college can afford the negative news generated by a very public legal case. When the institution’s reputation is at stake, the successful management of cases is solely the responsibility of HR, but with the full support of the executive leadership.

Your HR Help Desk system will facilitate the comprehensive management of staff complaints. It will provide, when cases hit critical mass, legally admissible evidence to demonstrate all appropriate actions were taken when resolving every case.