Technology enables ongoing talent development

Insights Article - Technology enables ongoing talent development

Key takeaways 

  • Connect your institutional brand with the employee experience 
  • Talent training and development are essential 
  • Automating mundane tasks frees up time for employees

“It is important to understand that technology is the enabler, not the driver,” says Andy Brantley, president and chief executive officer of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR). “An organization must create and sustain a brand that means something, and the employees of that organization must feel that they are a part of creating and sustaining that brand.” 

“As higher education organizations, we must connect our brand to our academic missions and the student experience,” Brantley explains. “We must also connect our brand to the employee experience and opportunities we create—how we acknowledge and reward great work and how we manage and hold accountable those employees who are marginal performers.”

Assuming that these elements are in place at an organizational level, Brantley says that technology can be a significant tool for recruiting and retention. “Recruiting is an ongoing priority. Most institutions thankfully have online solutions that applicants can use to submit their information.” Brantley suggests going deeper than just having online solutions available, however. “At CUPA-HR, we don’t just describe the position, we describe the culture and the collaborative, collegial working environment.”

“When you click About us on our website, you clearly see who we are, including our core values and ethics and our commitment to diversity and inclusion. These aren’t just programs and services: They are core elements of who we are.” According to Brantley, that complete picture is important because it sets the tone for attracting and retaining talent that fits well with your organization.

Next, Brantley says, “Talent development has to include ongoing learning related to technology. It is not OK for someone to avoid training that helps him or her better use the tools available, whether they be periodic Microsoft Word, Excel or Outlook training or an introduction to project management software. This type of ongoing learning is not optional: It is essential.”

One way CUPA-HR handles such training is through online webinars. A recent webinar had more than 1,400 sites logged in and 4,000 to 5,000 participants. “Our webinars last an hour and cover just-in-time compliance topics and leadership-development topics. Anyone who says that he or she doesn’t have time to regularly carve out an hour to log in to a free webinar is probably not the type of person you want in your organization.” 

Education and training are part of employee retention, but Brantley suggests that another element employees notice is an organization that is willing to invest in talent. “There will always be budget constraints for most higher education institutions,” he says, “but our employees must see that we are committed to giving them the tools they need to do their jobs and help us advance the institution. Employees see what institutions fund and what they choose not to fund or to delay funding.”

Brantley says that automating mundane tasks such as forms processing and filing documents frees up workers to focus on more rewarding work. “Many institutions have implemented workflow solutions that have totally transformed campus processes,” he continues. “Technology is the enabler, not the driver. Everything is truly an evolution. You continue to build and do what you do: Never rest on your laurels. It’s the ongoing commitment to improvement and to those who work with you in terms of their development and their engagement in all the things you do.”

ANDY BRANTLEY, President and CEO, College and University Professional Association for Human  Resources (CUPA-HR)
Andy Brantley has served as president and chief executive officer of CUPA- HR since July 2005. During his tenure, the association has grown from 1,500 member institutions to almost 2,000 and from 6,600 institutional representatives to more than 22,000. Before CUPA HR, Andy worked for 17 years in higher education, serving as associate vice president and chief human resources (HR) officer at the University of Georgia, director of HR at Davidson College, and director of HR at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

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