USC News

Menu Search

Personnel Restructuring

Q: What is the overall plan for personnel re-structuring; what is the vision behind it and why does the university think it’s needed?

 

A: The strategy behind restructuring personnel services was the result of examining all the functions within the Personnel Services division to determine how those functions fit into the overall university structure.

For instance, Fringe Benefits Accounting accounts for $140 million of our overall university expenses, and it’s important that the work done by this unit synchronize with the central accounting functions overseen by Financial Services. That unit did report to Personnel Services; it has since been integrated with Financial Systems Administration.

Similarly, four years ago our Compensation Office completed a thorough review and reconfiguration of job classifications. Once that program was implemented, staff in that unit focused on conducting salary surveys, evaluating job descriptions and posting open positions. We determined this function more appropriately falls within the scope of work already being done in the Office of Budget and Planning. The Office of Budget and Planning was already conducting salary surveys and keeping track of salary trends. It seemed natural to move the compensation program there, where Rob Cooper [budget and planning executive director] could utilize the expertise provided by the compensation staff to help schools and departments with overall planning efforts.

As another example, there were two insurance-related programs formerly under Personnel Services that handled disability and unemployment compensation. However, a third insurance program, workers’ compensation, is in Safety and Risk Management Services. In many cases, disability and workers’ compensation coordinate claims. So, as part of the restructuring, all these insurance programs are now together under Safety and Risk Management Services and can better coordinate services.

The restructuring has involved some office relocation. Fringe benefit accounting has moved to University Gardens; disability and staff development will move over to the Corwin D. Denny Research Center; the compensation office has already relocated to the Office of Budget and Planning in Bovard Administration Building; and the Health Plans staff, who had been in Bovard, have moved to Stonier Hall, in close proximity to Benefits Administration.

The underlying philosophy behind these changes was to maximize the quality of service we provide to faculty, staff and student employees – by putting the functions where they can be most effective.

 

Q: When and how will the changes take effect?

 

A: This new approach has brought about a very different organizational structure. In order to coordinate our efforts in addressing personnel issues, we formed the Personnel Council. The council meets every two weeks to review pertinent issues. It includes 12 representatives from various personnel units, payroll, accounting, budget and planning, the general counsel’s office, and public relations. The group decides what issues need to be addressed, then assigns responsibility to the person best able to get the ball rolling. We have already started the restructuring process, but it will probably be another six months before the new structure is completely established and providing the service as effectively as we would like.

 

Q: Does the restructuring of personnel dovetail with the Cost & Service Task Force’s blueprint for reducing costs and improving services? If so, are there specific ways the restructuring will improve efficiency or reduce costs?

 

A: This restructuring has a direct connection with the mission of the Cost & Service Task Force. The Cost & Service Task Force was established originally by the provost and myself as a temporary oversight committee – an operations review committee – to look at redundancy, to look at whether the right people are performing the appropriate functions.

Both the provost and I believe this needs to be an ongoing process. It’s like painting a bridge – once you get to the end, you need to go back to the beginning and start the process over again. We continually need to examine how we do business to make sure redundancy doesn’t creep back in. Managers are charged with making sure we are doing things most efficiently and providing the highest quality service, but it’s easy for them to get lost in the day-to-day operations. They need to step back and take a look at their operations from a larger perspective.

I expect to see a quantum improvement in the quality of our service by December, and we have already experienced substantial cost savings. We have planned for a half-million dollars in savings in the 1998 budget. We are committed to improving service without increasing cost.

 

Q: Where do the savings come from?

 

A: The immediate savings are the result of a larger department absorbing a smaller unit, and being able to operate with increased efficiency. For example, when we moved Fringe Benefits Accounting into Financial Services, we were able to provide the same level of service without filling positions left vacant when two employees elected to participate in the university’s early retirement program. Similarly, because the disability and unemployment compensation office was integrated with workers’ compensation in Safety and Risk Management, it was not necessary for us to fill the manager’s position, which, again, had been left vacant following an early retirement.

 

Q: What effect, if any, will the restructuring process have on the Employment Office? Will departments be responsible for recruiting, advertising positions, screening, etc.? How will supervisors and managers get the word out about a job that’s been posted?

 

A: For the time being, the Employment Office will continue to recruit and process applicants as they have done in the past. However, the Employment Office on the University Park Campus now reports to Maria Chacon, manager of administration, policies and procedures. On the Health Sciences Campus, that function continues to report to Dee Molina, director of administrative operations for the Health Sciences Campus Personnel Services Office.

The Employment Office should serve as a valuable asset to all of our deans, directors and managers. That unit can coordinate recruitment efforts, provide departments with quality candidates, coordinate background checks, etc. By being able to draw on a central storehouse of resumes and pre-screened candidates, a dean can more efficiently fill positions with qualified personnel. We’re exploring the possibility of out-sourcing at least some of the functions of the Employment Office to provide more efficient service.

 

Q: Workers’ comp and disability is currently under Safety and Risk Management – will it stay there?

 

A: Because they are all insurance-related programs, unemployment compensation and disability have joined workers’ compensation, and all three programs now fall under Safety and Risk Management. They will stay there.

 

Q: What effect, if any, will the restructuring process have on the Employment Office? Will departments be responsible for recruiting, advertising positions, screening, etc.? How will supervisors and managers get the word out about a job that’s been posted?

 

A: We have two point people to help interpret policies and field questions: Maria Chacon, manager of administration, policies and procedures at the University Park Campus, and Dee Molina, director of HSC Personnel. The appeals process for exceptions to policies begins with Dee or Maria. Each has the authority to handle routine requests. Should the situation warrant, they will forward requests for policy exceptions to me.

 

Q: How will the Health Sciences Campus be affected? Will there now be one personnel office for both campuses?

 

A: There were many offices within personnel services that supported Health Sciences. Those offices still exist, but with the restructuring they are now dispersed in budget and planning, accounting, risk management and general counsel. While many of the functions supporting HSC personnel issues continue to be located on the University Park Campus, Dee Molina, the point person at HSC, continues to maintain offices at the Health Sciences Campus.

 

Q: How does the restructuring impact individual jobs? People may want to know if this means layoffs or changes in duties.

 

A: The restructuring has not brought about any layoffs. Several staff members elected to participate in the university’s early retirement program and some open positions have been absorbed, but no layoffs are contemplated. The biggest impact on individuals involves a change in who those employees people report to and how these functions report to me.

 

Q: Where should departments go for advice on job descriptions, reclassifications or marketplace salary surveys?

 

A: We determined that reclassification of jobs and marketplace salary surveys are part of our overall planning and budget process, not restricted to the personnel process, so the compensation office staff is now integrated into the Office of Budget and Planning. That office is now responsible for job descriptions, reclassifications, marketplace surveys, etc. They are best able to analyze individual budgets and advise departments on positions. Previously, our efforts had been duplicated and we had several people worrying about the same things.

 

Q: Where do departments go for advice on coordinating reorganizations or layoffs?

 

A: They should contact Maria Chacon on the University Park Campus and Dee Molina on the Health Sciences Campus, who will coordinate the review process with James Ball of the General Counsel’s Office.

 

Q: Where would supervisors go for advice on procedures related to terminations and disciplinary issues? Who should they contact to mediate workplace conflicts?

 

A: James Ball will handle advice on procedures related to terminations and disciplinary issues, in coordination with Maria Chacon and Dee Molina. For mediating workplace issues, people should contact either Don Lewis, manager of employee relations, or, for issues relating to age, race or sexual discrimination, Linda Nolan, director of the Office of Affirmative Action. On the Health Sciences Campus, Dee Molina coordinates these contacts.

 

Q: Will there still be central coordination of staff training programs?

 

A: The Staff Development Office, which coordinates work-related training sessions and new employee orientations, has been moved to the office of Safety and Risk Management. That office already has in place an effective workplace training program covering radiation safety and safety in hazardous waste and hazardous materials work and other important workplace issues. Now, we are going to expand and strengthen the workplace training program under direction of Associate Vice President Leo Wade. We plan to focus on two aspects: workplace-related training, which will include computer training, and career development. The career development training program should give any non-exempt employee the tools necessary to progress through the university structure to an exempt position.

 

Q: How will the restructuring process impact individual schools and departments? Will staff in the schools and departments have to take on any additional responsibilities?

 

A: No work that has been performed centrally will be delegated to schools or departments. Staff who were with the Personnel Services division are still performing the same duties, only now they are working within a different structure.

 

Q: How has the benefits office been affected?Will submission deadlines for benefits enrollment/ change forms change now that Benefits/HSC and Personnel/Fringe Benefits Accounting are in separate reporting units?

 

A: Our benefits function consists of two units: benefits counseling and benefit plan development. Debbie Fabanish, manager of benefits administration, will continue to oversee benefits counseling on the University Park Campus, and Dee Molina oversees benefits counseling on the Health Sciences Campus. There won’t be changes in our deadlines or processing of paperwork.

Benefits plan development, which includes HMOs and other health plans, will continue to be under Lisa Macchia, director of health plans. Fringe Benefit Accounting now reports to Marcia Wood, associate vice president of finance.

Both Debbie Fabanish and Lisa Macchia will continue to support the work of the Employee Benefit Advisory Committee. That committee is chaired by professor Jonathan Aronson, and is made up of faculty and staff members.

 

Q: Will the re-assigned offices maintain their existing office hours or will they change to conform with their new units?

 

A: There will be no change in existing hours.

 

Q: Have the phone numbers and mail codes changed? When will this information be published?

 

A: Some will and some won’t. As changes occur, announcements will be distributed universitywide via campus mail.

 

Q: Will there be changes in the weekly staff orientation program now that it is coordinated out of Safety and Risk Management?

 

A: The Office of Safety and Risk Management will coordinate the continuing weekly staff orientation program on the University Park Campus, and will review the content of that program periodically. Dee Molina will continue to coordinate the program on the Health Sciences Campus.

 

Q: Are the offices still providing the same services they had in the past? If not, who are the new contacts?

 

A: While there will no longer be an executive director of Personnel Services and the Personnel Services division no longer exists, the staff which formerly came under the umbrella unit of Personnel Services will continue to have the same responsibilities. The only change is in the reporting structure. It may be a bit confusing to people because Maria Chacon and her staff, who coordinate hiring and termination and interpret policies, will still answer the phone “Personnel Services.” Dee Molina’s office will still be called “Personnel Services,” and will continue to coordinate services on the HSC. Questions about benefits and retirement plans should still go to Debbie Fabanish. Lisa Macchia will continue as the contact for health plan development.

 

Q: Who will handle tuition remission questions?

 

A: Determining eligibility for tuition remission has been, and continues to be, the responsibility of home department coordinators at the department level. Individuals with questions regarding tuition remission policy interpretation should continue to address those questions to staff in Maria Chacon’s office.

 

Q: Who will issue the 15-year “tuition remission vesting” letters for staff?

 

A: Staff on the University Park Campus who wish to receive a letter confirming they have 15 years of credited service should contact Maria Chacon’s office; staff on the Health Sciences Campus should contact Dee Molina’s office. Faculty should contact their home department coordinator to have their service history verified. Once service history has been verified, I will issue letters to both faculty and staff confirming that they qualify for tuition remission benefits equivalent to that available to employees having 15 years of credited service at the university, which would be provided in accordance with the university’s tuition remission policy in effect at the time the benefit is exercised.

 

Q: Where will support staff go with questions regarding their employment rights?

 

A: Again, questions of this sort should go either to Dee Molina at HSC or Maria Chacon at UPC. They will field questions from both supervisors and employees about their rights.

 

Q: Will this change the grievance process?

 

A: There is no change in the grievance process.

 

Q: Will there be delays in approvals or delivery of other services?

 

A: We intend to improve our service delivery. The new structure should actually increase efficiency and speed up the approval process. For example, a manager who has an employee with both a workers’ compensation claim and a disability claim used to have to contact two offices. They can now just go to one office for advice.

 

Q: Does this give more authority to schools and departments with their own personnel staffs?

 

A: Relationships between the central offices and personnel staffs of schools and departments remain the same.

Personnel Restructuring

Top stories on USC News