Miles Hall is the new home for all sections of SIU’s Human Resources department.
The university’s benefits, records, payroll, employment services, testing and data control sections were moved to Miles Hall on Nov. 20, said Jennifer Watson, HR director. These services were previously located in five separate university-owned houses along Elizabeth Street.
“We’re more centralized now,” Watson said. “We save money from disbursement efforts, and our Internet speed is a lot better on this side of campus. We’ve been in those buildings for over 30 years, but moving entire areas of our department has gone extremely smoothly.”
Employment Manager Tracy Bennett, whose first job was in the HR Department, said the move has been quite a change.
“It’s very different,” she said. “Elizabeth Street was really the only place I worked for any length of time on campus. For 20-plus years I’ve been in the same location, so it is a change, but I think it’s going really well. We can ask questions and get clarifications much more easily now. ”
Bennett said being in one building greatly improves the department sections’ efficiency.
“Payroll has always been in Miles Hall, and data control had always been on Elizabeth Street,” she said. “Their work is closely related, and they really had to be aware of what the other was doing.”
Bennett said the facility is more accessible because of larger reception areas and a more open environment.
“I think most guests on campus will find this as a benefit for them when they come to visit human resources,” she said. “No matter what their business is, I think they’ll find that this is a better set-up for them.”
However, the move hasn’t been entirely flawless. Bennett said the setting change has been difficult, but it has been successful because staff members made it work.
“I’m not going to say it was perfect, but everyone was positive and trying to make this as smooth as possible, and our changes still aren’t done,” she said. “We’re all here. Now we have to re-evaluate workflow. Things that each building used to be responsible for, we don’t need five people to be responsible for. We have to do a lot of cross-training, and ultimately that will be good, but right now that’s one of the challenges we have to face.”
Mary Nippe, an HR associate, said she has worked in the benefits and records office for 22 years. She said the department has a lot of adjustments to make, but she thinks it will be what they need in the long run.
“Elizabeth Street is all we knew, and everything isn’t going to be the same as it was,” she said. “I think it’s the perfect opportunity to reevaluate our internal processes and procedures and try to streamline the best we can to improve our efficiencies and to make things easier and better for the campus community.”
Kevin Bame, vice chancellor for administration and finance, could not be reached by press time for comment on future plans for the Elizabeth Street buildings.