Quinnipiac University: Educators Become Better Managers

Over its 73-year existence, Quinnipiac University (Q.U.) in Hamden, Conn., has seen its workforce grow and evolve in its composition. Today, the school's employee roster is made up of full- and part-time faculty, administrative staff, two groups of unionized workers (clerical and facilities), 900 work-study students, employees in a university affiliated polling institute, along with workers in security and its on-campus health center.

As part of its strategic plan to keep all aspects of its campus and administration up to the most recent standards in automation and Web-based technology, Quinnipiac began investigating ways to improve the labor management process for all of its 1,400 employees in the fall of 2000.

"We had really reached the limit of what we were able to accomplish in a paper-based environment," says Anna Spragg, Quinnipiac's director of HR. "Our hourly employees were looking for services like direct deposit, and we just could not turn around that many manual timesheets in time to meet the banks' deadlines."

Students who spent the morning in classes learning to create the technology of the future began questioning why they reverted to pencil and paper when it came time to report their work-study hours. "They really disliked the paper timesheets," Spragg says. "Q.U. students are so up on all of the new technology and what's possible, it was hard to argue with them."

Moving Forward
With the administration's encouragement, Spragg, along with a multi-disciplined committee from Quinnipiac's HR, payroll, and IT departments began looking for ways to modernize their labor management processes. One of their first stops was the university's Facilities Department, whose employees used another vendor's timeclock for capturing time and attendance data.

After talking to supervisors in the Facilities Department, they requested a demonstration of this vendor's other capabilities, along with a due-diligence review of competing vendors. After several presentations, the committee selected Kronos' Workforce Timekeeper application—the integral component within Kronos' Workforce Central suite—though it meant sacrificing the investment the university made in the other system.

"We came to the conclusion that [the system used by facilities] wouldn't do everything we wanted," explains Spragg. "We had a very solid infrastructure in place—Sun Microsystems servers running the Datatel platform—so we wanted something that would integrate easily and would have the flexibility to grow and evolve as our employee base d'es."

Helping cement the committee's decision was an extensive list of references in the academic world. "Kronos came highly recommended," Spragg says. "They had a good reputation and demonstrated that they had an excellent product that could handle the level of information we had in mind."

Phased-In Implementation
Quinnipiac realized that employees are often resistant to change—even when that change promises more convenience and better equity in the implementation of university policies. For this reason, the administration adopted a phased-in approach to rolling out the Kronos application.

Beginning with the Facilities Department (which was already familiar with using terminals to enter time), the university took several months to complete the transition. Student employees were brought onto the system next, and finally, the unionized clerical employees were included upon the completion of contract negotiations.

"They were a little hesitant to agree," says Spragg, remembering the negotiation process. "It was helpful for us to have already had the facilities people on the system, so they could see how it worked in action." Clerical employees who were uncomfortable punching a clock were offered the option of entering their time directly from their PC.

Becoming Better Managers
Quinnipiac's workforce has increased by more than 25 percent in the last four years—with no corresponding increase in HR or payroll staff. Understandably, the watchwords in administration have been "maximum efficiency"—not only in making sure university pay rules are enforced, but by improving the way labor information is collected and coordinated. That has also meant a need to educate the university's "managers"—the professors and department heads who provide frontline leadership—in the discipline of modern workforce management.

"Too often, people in academia become managers by default," says Spragg. "The Kronos system helps them learn to pay attention to the right things—to realize the accountability they have to the university."

Spragg says Kronos benefits busy academic supervisors by freeing them of many administrative duties involved in tracking time and answering schedule-related questions. It also helps them better enforce university pay rules more equitably and uniformly. And finally, it attunes them to their responsibility to manage their labor dollars as economically as possible. "It's got them asking all the right questions now," she says.

For additional information, contact Anna Spragg (spragg@quinnipiac.edu), director of HR at Quinnipiac University.

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