Human Resources announces system-wide redesign

On Monday, May 6, Chief Human Resources Officer Keli Hite McGee met with all University of Alaska human resources employees to announce a system-wide redesign of human resources functions. A message from President Johnsen to all UA employees shared the news systemwide later that day. Instead of maintaining three separate campus organizations and a Statewide office, a wholly new single human resources organization will coordinate to provide high-quality service throughout the UA system. This organizational structure reflects a best practice for higher education organizations that leads to increased efficiencies, and ensures consistent policy application and data management across the system. Most positions in the new organization will begin no later than Monday, September 16, 2019.


Ongoing communication and feedback is an important part of the redesign process. CHRO McGee is holding weekly listening sessions with affected HR staff to answer questions about the transition and implementation process, and weekly meetings with campus Vice Chancellors of Administrative Services. She will be scheduling a listening session for PPAs/CCCs, and is meeting with governance groups and others as requested.


The new structure organizes HR staff into five functional areas: operations, which includes accounting, payroll, HR systems, personnel and customer service; talent acquisition, which includes diversity, classification, compensation and employment; transition and benefits, which includes onboarding, offboarding, transfers and benefits; labor and employee engagement, which includes labor and employee relations, investigations and union negotiations, and organizational development. A final version of the org chart and a description of each of the functional areas has been added to the transition website.


A function-based structure establishes a clear chain of accountability. This leads to system-wide standard operating policies and procedures and ensures consistent accountability. Career ladders are built into the new organization for each functional area providing a career path for HR professionals. By transitioning into a unified, structured organization throughout the system, HR will be more agile in fixing problems and managing services. Existing workloads will be spread across the larger team, reducing backlogs and pinch points in current processes and structures.


Human Resources employees will remain located at all three of the main campuses (Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau). University employees will still have access to all current, and in many cases expanded, human resources services. HR staff are charged to support the employees and departments in their current locations as well as provide support to those throughout the state through their participation in functional teams. Current CCCs, PPAs and community campus HR personnel are not included in the redesign and remain in the units they currently support.


As a necessary first step to ensure HR employees have enough time to consider their options, all human resources employees were given official layoff notice, effective September 14, 2019. Layoff provides the best benefits to HR employees. For HR employees desiring to be a part of the new team, there are many opportunities for continued employment and contribution to the enhancement of HR services at the University of Alaska. There are enough positions in the new structure to accommodate all HR staff that are currently in regular positions. An application site for the new organization was opened to current HR employees on May 10, three days ahead of schedule. Positions that remain unfilled after the initial current HR staff recruitment may be recruited for through myUA starting in late June. Understanding that this process can be stressful, the goal is to fill positions in the new HR organization on or before June 30, 2019. This allows for training and development for HR staff in their new capacity prior to September 16, 2019.


In order to ensure that a high level of service is maintained, the human resources organization will adopt and track service level standards for each functional area and will use a scorecard system to monitor and manage system-wide customer service levels. Areas of service currently under-developed, including onboarding and exit interviews, career path development, organizational development and comprehensive classification guidelines, will benefit from dedicated staffing. In addition to the functional benefits of the new organization, cost savings will be realized from fewer directors, new compensation structure and the streamlining of services.

If you have questions or feedback on the change, please visit the transition website On the transition website employees can submit questions and feedback using an online FORM. We aim to be responsive to your questions and to provide as much information as possible to address employee concerns over the coming months.