Feb 7, 2017
By Jennifer Cochran
Employers often find themselves scrambling to fill in gaps left when valued staff members retire, advance into new positions or take time away from their jobs for family or medical leaves. This is often the case in both academic and non-academic units and departments at Ohio University. Oftentimes colleagues will step in and take on tasks to ensure coverage for their co-workers who may be away from the office. In some instances, departments hire temporary staff to help fill those gaps, or to provide staffing during peak work times or hiring processes.
In December, Ohio University launched the OHIO Ready Staff pilot program to help fill staffing gaps. The program, run by the Finance and Administration Business Service Center, provides temporary office and accounting staffing assistance. Staffing assignments vary in duration and can be part-time to full-time in the host departments. The program is open to all University departments on the Athens Campus.
According to Tina Payne, chief financial and administrative officer (CFAO) for the Division of Finance and Administration, OHIO Ready Staff creates a pool of qualified employees who can meet short term staffing needs. “In a climate where you can’t always just go out and hire someone, this gives departments the flexibility to get part-time help,” Payne said.
The program helps limit hiring and training expenses and downtime for University departments and creates a pipeline of trained and tested talent for the University, according to Payne. OHIO Ready Staff may also serve as an entry point for qualified individuals seeking employment opportunities at the University.
The OHIO Ready Staff program features staff who are trained full-time Ohio University Employees. Those employees receive training in software and systems including BobcatBUY, OnBase, Peoplesoft, Cashnet, Concur, Microsoft Office, FMS, Oracle and more before taking on assignments in departments across campus. OHIO Ready Staff are equipped to perform duties around travel itineraries, calendar management, customer service, clerical support, journal entries, procurement, business and accounting, and more. The program launched with three employees and several more will begin in the near future. Mindy Colburn coordinates the program and April Butterworth leads the training for OHIO Ready Staff members.
Erin Dunn, who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Ohio University, came to the OHIO Ready Staff program with experience in inventory, accounting, insurance claims and billing. She has had an opportunity to put her experience, along with new skills acquired through training as part of the pilot staffing program, to work in temporary postings in the Division of Student Affairs and Procurement. Dunn said she appreciates the flexibility of the OHIO Ready Staff program and the ability to serve and learn about different departments on campus. “I’ve already learned so much and being able to move around will allow me to continue learning and gaining invaluable experience,” Dunn explained.
Noelle Gaston, who earned an associate’s degree from Hocking College, divides her time between assignments in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine Admission Office and the Central Food Facility. She liked the idea of being placed in different departments within the University and the opportunity to learn about different departments and interact with staff members across departments. “Everyone I have met all across campus has been so welcoming and friendly and that truly makes a difference in your work life,” Gaston said.
Mindy Robson works three days a week in the Office of Real Estate Management and splits her remaining time between Parking Services and Architecture, Design, and Construction. David Averion, manager of real estate operations, believes the OHIO Ready Staff program benefits everyone involved. “The Office of Real Estate Management is thrilled to have the opportunity to utilize OHIO Ready Staff,” said Averion. “Our small two person department needed support with BobcatBUY (including contract routing), file maintenance and numerous department work flow initiatives. When Mindy arrived, she was prepared and ready to offer immediate assistance.”
Robson earned an associate’s degree from Hocking College and previously worked as a substitute teacher’s aide so she was already accustomed to moving from building to building and task to task. “It is exciting to meet new people and see how all of the University’s departments actually work,” said Robson. “I appreciate all the training we have received. I feel as though I could go anywhere on campus and be ready for whatever they need.”
OHIO Ready Staff members spend any unscheduled time learning and practicing the systems that they are expected to use and participating in additional training through the Finance and Administration Business Service Center.
Departments wishing to utilize the OHIO Ready Staff program may complete a staffing request form on the OHIO Ready Staff web page. Those departments utilizing the staffing program will be billed at an hourly rate.
OHIO Ready Staff positions for the pilot program were posted through Human Resources on the Ohio University Jobs web page and any future positions will also be posted there. For more information, please visit the OHIO Ready Staff web page.