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Creating a Digital HR Department

Creating a Digital HR Department

Streamlining your application process with technology can save money and improve teacher hiring. By Ron Huberman

In recent years, we’ve seen a significant shift toward making classrooms digital to offer alternative learning methods and more effective instruction. Since students are the top priority, it makes sense that we invest in technology in the classroom to improve teaching and learning. But this transformation leads to the question: Where else might this trend foster improvement? Could districts save money and streamline their hiring processes by creating digital HR departments?

Using technology to hire teachers and process paperwork can decrease the time it takes to secure a new teacher in the classroom. Typical paperwork consists of W2 forms, affidavits, resumes, licensure, etc. Many schools still use paper documents and file cabinets, which increases the time it takes to collect and keep information organized. Further, whenever an HR director or principal needs information on a candidate, someone has to manually sort through a file cabinet to find that candidate’s file. These tedious, logistical tasks can be automated and streamlined through digital systems, which gives HR personnel more time to spend on important, strategic activities like attracting top talent and making careful, more informed hiring decisions.

In addition, paper documents and filing systems lead to financial and institutional costs that can result from losing the best candidates and increasing the time it takes to replace a teacher. According to the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, “districts experience teacher turnover costs at two levels: 1) the central office expends resources when recruiting, hiring, processing, and training teachers; and 2) schools incur costs when employees interview, hire, process, orient, and develop new teachers.” The cost of losing a teacher ranges from $3,600 to $8,600, not including district-level costs and the even more important loss of student learning time. Furthermore, the National Bureau of Economic Research reports that when teachers are absent for 10 days, there is a significant decrease in student outcomes. When teachers are absent more than 10 days, the decrease in student achievement is even more significant; it may be akin to the difference between having a brand new teacher and one with two or three years more experience, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Another study, Missed Opportunities, found that when the hiring processes push districts’ timelines back, between 31 and nearly 60 percent of applicants withdraw from the process, often to accept jobs with districts that made offers earlier. The majority cited the late hiring timeline as a major reason they took other jobs. When schools efficiently move qualified candidates through the hiring process, the candidate is more likely to accept the position and the school will have a new teacher in the classroom faster. When quality candidates become disengaged due to delays, hiring managers have to consider less qualified candidates.

 These financial and institutional costs demonstrate just how crucial it is to secure quality teachers as efficiently as possible. Creating a digital HR department is one solution. So how can you digitalize teacher hiring?

1. Use a robust applicant tracking system to collect the necessary information from the start.

Applicant tracking systems streamline the hiring process by collecting and organizing candidate files from the moment they apply. These systems can also store and share digital copies of important paperwork that candidates can fill out as part of their application. 

“We’re working to build a custom functionality that will allow us to streamline the [hiring] process even further,” says Dan Pavletich, HR director at Elmbrook. “We’ll be able to digitalize all of our paperwork and keep it in the system so that when we hire a new teacher, he or she can log into the system to fill out the necessary forms and we can go in and easily see what paperwork has been completed. Then it’s on file forever; we don’t have to have hundreds of pieces of loose paper filed in a cabinet.”

2. Use a cloud service to store and send documents electronically.

Google Drive and Office 365 both let you share and download documents which makes it easy to send a document to a candidate, have him or her fill it out electronically, and send it back. You can then download the document and save it in the cloud service. Google Drive also lets you have a desktop version of the cloud so that you can access the files without using an Internet browser.

3. Create a website specifically for teacher candidates.

Clark County School District in Nevada created a website exclusively for new teacher hires. The website offers information and forms, new teacher resources, and welcome information.

It’s important to remember that student performance can be supported outside the classroom. Schools should begin to think about how to use technology to streamline processes in other departments. Changing your HR office is a small initiative you can take that has a lasting, positive impact on hiring time and cost, and will ultimately help place an effective teacher in the classroom faster to improve student learning experiences.

Ron Huberman is a former superintendent and the co-founder of TeacherMatch, an advanced K–12 talent management system that uses predictive analytics and data to help school districts identify, hire, and develop effective teachers.

Image: Chris Ryan/Media Bakery

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in edu Pulse are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.