June 18, 2024

Staff Excellence: Human Resources Business Partners

No two days are the same for the university’s Human Resources Business Partners team, but regardless of the task at hand, this group of highly skilled staff members always strives to transform every request into a positive solution for all parties involved. If you have a question, they almost certainly have an answer.

“We want to be seen as that one-stop-shop from a divisional perspective so that when you think of HR, you think of your HR business partner,” says Michelle Jansen, HR director. “They’re going to guide you to wherever you need to go. We are the face of HR, and so a lot of our HR leaders tell people to start with us.”

These 17 employees are charged with providing strategic and holistic advice to university leaders, supervisors and employees. When employee issues arise, they step in to mitigate. When campus units are interested in reorganizing their workforce strategy, they comb through the fine policy details and formulate an action plan. And when university employees reach out about a challenge they’re facing, the team is there to listen.

But before they can begin offering counseling on matters related to workforce strategy, organizational effectiveness, employee relations, position management and beyond, these staff take all factors into account: who’s involved, what’s the goal, and who else should be pulled in to help navigate the path toward a solution.

“We’re sort of a jack-of-all-trades, so we know enough about a bunch of different areas, but there are times where we need to rely on the subject matter experts,” says Adam Scheffee, HR director.

Those subject matter experts include partners from a variety of campus units, including the Office of Institutional Equity, the Purdue University Police Department, Finance and the Office of Legal Counsel, along with professionals from internal HR teams like Talent Acquisition, Compensation, Benefits and more. Each one works with HR Business Partners staff to achieve the same goal: addressing the needs of the university’s employees and units. 

As the liaison between university units and larger HR organization, a big chunk of HR Business Partners’ work involves conversing with deans, vice presidents and other university leaders and managers to maintain an exemplary workplace environment. But they also shine as employee relations professionals, often coaching individual employees on techniques to improve their performance and enhance their success at the university. 

“We help employees and managers navigate to positive people outcomes,” Scheffee says. “Ultimately, it’s about trying to get their performance back on track, and helping that person be successful and better support the unit.”

The conversations aren’t always easy or straightforward, but these employees skillfully navigate each one with grace, professionalism and empathy. Whether they’re working with a supervisor or an employee, their emotional intelligence and comfortability with conflict pave the way for outstanding customer service and stellar advice, leading to creative solutions that enhance the university’s operations.

They’re relationship builders, critical thinkers and trusted advisors, but most importantly, they’re people-focused, striving to offer practical guidance to propel the excellence of every single unit and employee across the West Lafayette campus. And in the face of a challenge, their passion for their work only grows stronger. 

“Our staff rely on us but also each other because we handle some very difficult, heavy stuff,” Jansen says. “And even though we deal with some of those things, we can all come together and have fun. I feel like we have a really strong connection and sense of partnership.”

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