Knowledge Center

Definitions for the Core Area

Experiential – Achieving specific higher ed HR skills from experience or learning

Each competency within the Core area can aid in achieving:

  • professional and personal bests
  • stakeholder buy-in, acceptance and value
  • team, institution and community results

At any given time, proficiency for each competency will fall at some point along the outer ring of the framework: Awareness, Application, Mastery, Influence.

The following competency definitions are offered as a guide and are to be used in conjunction with your institution's interpretation of how these competencies can be applied on your campus. 

  • Understands and demonstrates knowledge of HR concepts, principles and practices related to a vast array of benefit programs, such as retirement plans, insurance, injury compensation, non-insurance benefits (paid leaves, child care, wellness programs, employee discounts, etc.) and other employee benefits programs.
  • Understands process and best methods for determining eligibility for all applicable employee benefit programs.
  • Prepares and times employee communications for maximum understanding of benefits.
  • Exhibits knowledge of and oversees recordkeeping.
  • Ensures benefit programs and procedures meet organizational needs and comply with legal and regulatory restrictions.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of compensation concepts, principles, and practices, including pay structures and compensation philosophy.
  • Develops and interprets compensation policies and related work rules to include hours of work and schedules, flexible work weeks, overtime and shift work.
  • Designs and implements pay-increase programs, adjustments to pay plans, premium pay, over-payments and waivers, as well as bonus and merit pay programs.
  • Has knowledge of compensation-related laws, rules and regulations
  • Analyzes employee pay and market rates to ensure equity, address issues such as compression, noncompetitive pay rates, turnover, lack of upward mobility, inconsistent titling and pay.
  • Develops guidance and provides regulatory and policy advice and assistance on all compensation matters, etc.

Classification can be an essential function when working in compensation. Classification involves a consistent method of evaluating a job (a set of duties and responsibilities) for purposes of assigning a title, an FLSA classification and a pay range. This process can take place when a new position is created or when a job needs to be reassessed due to changes in duties or market factors. A consistent methodology is important for ensuring internal equity and compliance with relevant state and federal regulations. Responsibilities can include oversight of personnel action requests, analysis of job descriptions in relation to classification systems.

  • Understands and demonstrates knowledge of the concepts, principles and practices related to identifying, attracting, selecting and retaining individuals to address institutional needs.
  • Understands relevant HR laws, rules and regulations.
  • Advises on and utilizes a full spectrum of recruitment strategies.
  • Maintains knowledge of the labor market and recruiting resources.
  • Oversees or advises search or selection committees, and negotiates with candidates.

*See framework section, Building Capabilities, competency: Identify, Recruit and Onboard Talent for more information.

Employee/Labor Relations
  • Understands and demonstrates knowledge of laws, rules, regulations, case law, principles and practices related to employee conduct, motivation, performance, rewards and dispute resolution.
  • Understands practices and laws related to union organizing, negotiating, contract interpretation and administering labor agreements.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of a variety of HR issues to include performance management, employee conduct and other work life issues.
  • Identifies, evaluates, and recommends management interventions to solve problems and issues.
  • Applies knowledge of consensus building, negotiation, coalition building, meditation and other non-adversarial problem-solving approaches to resolve problems and advise management.
Employee Development
  • Monitors current HR trends and tools relevant for employee development.
  • Helps employees create career development goals.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of and focus on employee skill development
  • Designs and implements development activities for employees for current and future role responsibilities.
  • Develops training for supervisors to enable them to coach employees and help them formulate professional development plans.
  • Establishes mentoring programs, as appropriate.
  • Provides information to employees on sources of training.
HR Data, Systems and Analytics
  • Plans, develops and implements an HR Information System (HRIS) tailored to collect, retrieve and report key data to ensure timely reporting, workforce assessments, HR operational efficiencies, realistic projections and mandatory recordkeeping.
  • Collaborates with other functional and IT units to evaluate data integrity issues and needs.
  • Develops safeguards for data integrity and security.
  • Interprets how metrics and analytics work to maximize individual and institution performance as well as influence institution decisions.
Risk Management, Compliance and Public Policy
  • Plans and implements programs that anticipate, prepare for or compensate for elements of risk.
  • Maintains a comprehensive knowledge of best practices and proven institution risk-management methods, models and tools.
  • Aligns programs with individual, department and institutional strategies.
  • Communicates the impact of identified risks and recommends corrective action.
  • Ensures ongoing compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • Conducts periodic review of activities to ensure compliance with risk objectives,
  • Collaborates with the proper stakeholders for communicating appropriate guidance.

See CUPA-HR’s Public Policy Principles for further guidance.

Organizational Development and Planning

Organizational development is the formal process whereby an organization is evaluated and plans are developed to achieve prescribed outcomes such as effectiveness, efficiency, employee motivation and satisfaction, and improved business processes.

Budget and Finance
  • Understands the institution's financial processes, sources of funding, expenditures and budgeting.
  • Understands overall financial performance of the institution.
  • Analyzes financial information to evaluate HR-related strategic opportunities and options.
Project Management

Project management can help institutions increase efficiency in competitive environments. The practice of project management is to apply knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to a project in order to meet project requirements. Managing a project can be viewed as a cyclical process that includes initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. Each part of the process includes several areas such as integration, scope, time, cost, quality, procurement, human resources, communications, risk management and stakeholder management. All in all, managing a project brings together a unique focus that is shaped by goals, resources and a schedule. Project Management Institute definition.