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Human Resources Matters: In time of change, people remain Human Resources’ first priority

Customer service, efficiency and engagement among Lonsinger’s objectives

Linda Lonsinger has only been Ohio University’s chief human resource officer since March 1, but in that short time she has accomplished much and has implemented many long-term initiatives. As part of our ongoing “Matters” series, Ohio University Compass spoke with Lonsinger about what the future holds for HR at the University,

What are the most common misconceptions about HR?
Generally, many common misconceptions arise from misjudging the depth and breadth of what we do because many people only focus on what their immediate needs are when they come to us for assistance.  So they may not be aware that, for example, we manage and administer collective bargaining agreements; monitor policy compliance as it relates to employment; develop and administer pay plans for administrators and classified staff; administer all employee benefits; are involved in all of the hiring for the University; participate in policy making; and provide professional development and training.

How do you see Human Resources?

Our office is sometimes viewed as transactional, but we view ourselves as also being a strategic partner with areas of the University. Human Resources is very willing to be creative and do everything we can to find the best solutions to issues involving both organizational units and individual employees.

What has changed since you took over?

It has only been since March 1, but since then, we have selected a third party administrator for our health insurance; completed the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) contract negotiations; agreed to a one year contract with FOP; and have begun to move forward with strategic University initiatives. We have also recently hired a new director of employee and labor relations [Ericka Pearsol-Christie].

What are those initiatives?
We are examining our compensation pay plan for administrators, and it is a huge undertaking. Our employee classification and compensation system hasn’t been updated in 40 years and is simply antiquated. There is not a lot of uniformity in titles, and we hope to add some consistency.

We are also actively exploring new and different IT solutions for benefits.This year we offered online open enrollment for the first time in several years. The IT solutions will enhance our ability to be more strategic. Additionally, we will continue to address the issue of healthy lifestyles with our employees and we hope to continue to incentivize healthy lifestyles.

Many staff members are wary of changes to the administrative compensation pay plan. How do you answer those concerns?

The entire process will be collaborative with the affected departments and units. We will engage the units and their representatives and will work with them in all aspects of this endeavor. The compensation area of UHR has begun to put together the necessary compensation infrastructure. Our compensation staff will be working unit by unit, to ensure that every position is appropriately addressed.

What drives human resources?

The need to achieve and go to the next level is our driver.  That statement is true for each area within UHR. We aspire to offer the best human resource services to OHIO.