James Stovall

So you are managing a school, and all that goes with it. Tiny little people, tiny little people’s parents, not so tiny board members and governing bodies, and massive amounts of paperwork. With all that you’ve got on your plate, it’s easy for your greatest asset to fall to the wayside as administrative tasks loom: it’s easy to lose the human touch.

When resources are tight human resource professionals can be your biggest ally, but all too often, the “human” is buried under a pile of forms and regulation and confusion. Human resource functions can quickly become inhumane to an already stretched staff, actually increasing the workload rather than making things easier. This is particularly true if the primary function of your HR team is to ensure compliance, meet payroll, choose benefit providers, make sure forms and documentation are in order, and process employee requests. (And who are we kidding?  Your HR “team” is likely one operations person wearing multiple hats – but follow along for fun.)

Smart, successful schools are moving away from this ‘HR merely pushes paper’ mentality, and re-imagining the role of human resources. Today, smart schools are engaging professional employer organizations, or PEOs, to augment and even upgrade the resources the school is deploying to human resources.  The right PEO can provide real value that can help school leaders and staff feel human again!  In this new model, smart schools use HR professionals from PEOs to work alongside of them – often quite literally – and can help the school, for example, better navigate the nuances of K-12 school workplace environments; provide on-site wellness and healthcare education; and ensure teachers have Fortune 500-level employee benefits, among other things.  All of this, at no extra cost to the school!

Here are 5 things to put the “human” front and center of your resources:

  1. (Way More) Face Time. Benefit partners, brokers and PEOs will often help get you through open enrollment – coming for an hour or two and answering employee questions. But the thing is, questions often come up way after the presentation ends. This is where the right PEO partner will shine.  The right PEO will arrange onsite “office hours” for you and your staff during intense HR periods like open enrollment.  Teachers can visit during their prep periods and ask the PEO professional benefit questions in a private, confidential environment.  Talk about personal service.
  1. One on One Expertise. For school leaders, finding teachers with deep instructional expertise at each grade level can be tough.  Navigating employee relations and keeping up with HR regulations also can be difficult. To stay ahead and keep compliant with HR regulations, it’s good to have someone to reach out to, whenever, and for whatever reason you need.  From employee tax credits, to changes in overtime law, you need someone immersed in the grit and grind of HR to help you stay focused on what you do best.
  1. Real People, On Call. Do you have the cell phone number, and know the name, of your medical, dental and vision providers? Of course you don’t!  But when you or your staff needs to talk to the carriers to get answers to your healthcare questions, you should be speaking directly with an expert. You should not have to contact a call center first, navigate through voice prompts, speak to a customer service generalists and then, if you are lucky, get transferred to the person you were looking for in the first place. Find a PEO partner who is willing to give you their name, phone number, email.  Make sure you know there’s a face behind that customer support.
  1. Significant Cultural Impact. The right PEO partner can have a big impact on the culture of your organization, too, by providing ideas and solutions that help your staff stay healthy and happy, while encouraging the organization to work together toward common goals. The perks you provide can make a huge difference both personally and professionally to your staff and school. From home meal delivery and healthy office snacks, to on-site, all-staff wellness education and events – there are lots of ways to personalize your perks to encourage the culture you are working hard to achieve.  A good PEO will work with you to help you create a healthy, happy environment.
  1. Friendly Technology. Many software developers are working to embrace the human side of technology, using it as a tool to help with standard functions like payroll, accounting and enrollment. But smart school leaders are finding that technology can also become an extension of the culture itself — making teachers and staff feel seen and heard and human again. Find technology that feels human – look for easy to use solutions, with friendly ‘avatars’ that can walk staff through the entire benefits enrollment process, for example.

Have HR compliance questions?  Want to perk up your peeps?  Need to feel human again? Call Little Bird today at 1-888-281-8956.

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