Spalding University’s School of Business wants to maintain a front-line relevance for the curriculum it offers its students in the community. One mechanism they use to achieve that, according to Robin Hinkle, director of the Master of Science in Business Communication (MSBC) program, is an external review conducted with organizational leaders in the community every three years.

Results from the July 2018 survey were recently completed, and one area in which participants were queried involved a possible new concentration in MSBC. Of the response options, Human Resource Management, (HRM) received the most nominations.

Making it a reality

With the survey data and the fact that Dr. Hinkle said more business students are inquiring about HRM studies on a master’s level, Spalding will be launching a new HRM concentration to its MSBC program beginning in Fall 2019. Although the specialized courses won’t be available until 2019, a number of core courses are available now for interested students.

Dr. Hinkle said the survey results were not a surprise, since she believes the need for HRM is burgeoning. “With a strong economy, businesses are beginning to re-invest in HR now that they have the money to add it back in to the mix,” she said.

The MSBC with HRM concentration is appropriate for students with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, or for someone who wants a second master’s degree.

The program includes seven core courses and four specialized courses in HRM: Staffing Organizations, Training and Development, Compensation and Benefits, and Employment Law. “HR professionals need to have a skill set in each one of these,” said Dr. Hinkle. “Even if you are not working in compensation, you still need to have a general knowledge of compensation.”

Leaders need to be able to identify talent

Jeff Nally, a local Human Resources professional, executive coach and business consultant, is on the Spalding University School of Business Advisory Board, and has taught HR courses at Spalding on the undergraduate level. Nally notes that one trend he is seeing is that “talent and people practices are not just for HR professionals anymore. All leaders need to be able to identify talent and help develop talent in people,” he said.

Nally said he is seeing a real HR industry shift. “I have been in HR since the early 1990s, and I coach executives at the C-Suite level. For the past year, my clients have been bringing talent and people issues to their coaching sessions. It has become an enterprise-wide challenge to find the right people to fill the right jobs. I’ve never seen it this tough before.”

Even though unemployment is low, Nally said there are many jobs now that didn’t exist two or five, or ten years ago. “Finding people qualified to do a combination of things might really be a shift,” he said. “Employers are saying, ‘I need you to be good at this task, this skill and have this experience. I’m going to hold out for the person who has all three instead of just hiring the person who has one of those attributes. That’s one of the things that’s different.”

Total rewards workplace

Another reason Nally believes leaders and companies are having challenges is it’s not enough to just offer a base pay and benefits plan. “Employees are looking for a total rewards plan. What does time off look like? What does base pay look like? Is there commission or bonus? I want to see more than your health plan. Show me how wellness works. Show me how childcare works. What about working at home or telecommuting?” said Nally.

Courses in the Spalding University HR Concentration give students a roadmap to what it means to build a total rewards workplace,” said Nally. “For example, one course, Employment Law, is not just the basics of employment law, but how to build on top of that foundation an organizational culture that attracts and retains employees,” he said. “What kind of people are we trying to attract and why do our customers come to us?”

Meeting the challenges of the workforce

Nally said feedback from the last two external surveys indicates employers want to hire HR professionals who are knowledgeable and well-practiced in the HR management concentration areas. “We’re going to take what you know and have you help us make it better and different at our organization, so we can beat our competitors at hiring talent.”

At Spalding, the goal of the HRM concentration program is to prepare students to meet the challenges of the workforce as many help their own organizations to do the same.

“We’re teaching people at a master’s level how to use the science of staffing organizations to get people in the company, but also the science of how to grow them and retain them through training and development.”

Join us for a virtual info session on December 4, 2018 to learn more.