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The Case for Strategic Human Capital Management in Education

Human Capital Management

What is strategic human capital management (HCM)?

Depending on where you look, you’ll see different definitions:

  • People Managing People defines HCM as “the collection of organizational practices related to the acquisition, management, and development of the human workforce.”
  • According to Oracle, HCM is a term that “can refer both to a business strategy and a set of modern IT applications and other technologies that are used to implement that strategy.” Oracle distinguishes HCM from HR by the workforce rewards (compensation, benefits, and payroll) and talent and workforce management (the HR functions related to positive and negative time management) that go beyond traditional HR.

Of course, you know how important it is to consider the differences between HCM in other industries versus education.

Potentially the biggest difference? Students.

HCM in K-12 is still about people, but the impact on student outcomes in the classroom, finite financial and workforce resources, and complex compliance requirements make K-12 HCM feel different.

Why now?

After enduring one of the most difficult times in the history of U.S. education, what makes now the best time to examine your current approach to human capital management (HCM) and opportunities to improve?

With an effective strategy for HCM, you can feel more prepared to take on these challenges:

  • The teacher shortage is likely to continue: more teachers will retire, and demand for new teachers, substitutes, and staff will continue to outpace supply for years to come.
  • Shifting regulations around HR, compliance, and privacy threaten to complicate daily operations.
  • COVID-19 added new wrinkles to meeting state requirements for personnel recordkeeping, leave management, teacher evaluations, professional development, certification, and other processes.
  • Teacher morale has suffered throughout the pandemic and has much ground to make up.

The need to attract, engage, and support teachers is as great — or greater — than it has ever been.


Effective HCM allows you and your fellow administrators to better attract, retain, and professionally develop teachers and staff while making HR interactions as effective and efficient as possible


The result? You and your team are better able to make the most of limited resources and ensure that every student has access to excellent teachers — the single biggest factor impacting their education. It may not be a surprise to educators that teachers have a larger effect on student performance than any other factor, including services, facilities, leadership, prior ability, socioeconomic status, and even positive home/family dynamics.

A better work day for everyone

Beyond teachers, human capital management enables district leaders to manage and mitigate risk by ensuring compliance with labor and data privacy laws, as well as with state requirements for teachers and other school personnel.

It improves efficiency within the district, ensuring information needed for decision-making is accessible and the amount of time spent on paperwork and logistics is minimized. More efficient processes make it easier to maximize the time spent educating students.

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A better employee journey

With a centralized view of everything related to the employee lifecycle, you can break down silos and work across departments to provide students with the best education possible.

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The K-12 Human Capital Management Journey
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What value does HCM bring to you?

No matter your role in your district, you can benefit from a more connected, strategic approach to HCM. Here are a few ideas of how you might benefit based on your role.

Jump to your role:

Superintendents: Lead with clarity and take decisive action

Connected HCM helps you foster a community that attracts talented educators and gets the most out of every dollar spent. With a more strategic approach to HCM, you can:

  • Proactively manage risk: Ensure your district maintains compliance and avoids bad press by proactively managing compliance with state and federal laws and avoiding audits.
  • Maintain a stellar teaching staff: Attracting, retaining, and supporting teachers and staff has an outsized impact on student achievement and is key to a high-performing district.
  • Get the most out of district funds: With about 80% of district budgets spent on salaries and benefits, you want to reduce teacher turnover costs and help every employee at your district be as effective as possible for greater impact on student achievement.

HR Directors: Build a district brand that attracts and retains great teachers and staff

HCM is not simply “HR done well,” but effective HCM certainly allows you to focus on the employee experience, engage your teachers and staff, and reduce turnover.

  • Increase efficiency and customer service: Depending on the system you use for HCM, you can automate labor-intensive processes like onboarding and stay on top of cross-functional tasks.
  • Reduce teacher turnover: A solid HCM strategy can help you provide a positive employment experience so that you can avoid turnover. And when you do have vacancies, HCM makes it cheaper and easier to find qualified candidates — and helps ensure you have the budget in place to make the hire.
  • Reduce risk: HCM can help you make compliance more efficient, making it faster and easier to comply with labor laws, secure teachers or substitutes to staff classrooms, and manage annual contracts, PD, and evaluations.

Curriculum & Instruction: Support great teaching — and great learning 

With the right processes and analytics in place — key elements of HCM — you can ensure that professional development addresses real, on-the-ground needs.

  • Provide a great teaching experience: HCM eases access to resources and support structures, helping teachers feel seen, heard, and affirmed while encouraging meaningful growth in pedagogical practice.
  • Ensure teacher quality: Integrating your HCM processes from recruitment and professional development to substitute management and employee form management equips teachers with the skills to effectively teach a diverse set of students.
  • Meet evaluation and PD requirements: Compliance can feel like a never-ending game with rule changes happening at any moment. A solid HCM foundation helps you become more proactive and efficient, so you no longer have to choose between compliance and meeting teacher and student needs.

CFOs: Reduce financial risk

HCM can help you feel more confident that the budget spent on teachers and staff will have the greatest possible impact on students.

  • Make the most of funding: Reduce the cost of turnover and maximize every employee’s efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Manage risk: Make compliance more efficient, making it faster and easier to comply with state and federal labor laws, collective bargaining agreements, and payroll and labor costs like overtime or comp time. And when done right, HCM can make data more accessible, so teams like yours can access information as needed — for example, in case of an audit.

Technology Directors: Ensure your tech stack works together

Go beyond simple automation and rest assured that you have a shared vision to guide technology decisions, making it possible for each department to securely work together.

  • Support technology needs: A shared HCM vision gives you clarity in your role and allows you to shift away from managing and troubleshooting dozens of separate systems and move toward more innovative and strategic work.
  • Increase security: Although not a strict requirement for effective HCM, cutting down on the number of different vendors you work with to execute on your HCM strategy can also reduce threats to student and staff data security.

Principals: Focus on students

HCM allows you to focus on students and feel confident that the right teachers and substitutes are where they need to be.

  • Ensure teacher quality: Integrating your HCM processes from recruitment and professional development to substitute management and employee form management equips teachers with the skills to effectively teach a diverse set of students.
  • Reduce teacher absences:  Get more insight into data to proactively address trends in absences so you can ensure students aren’t missing out on quality instruction.
  • Attract and retain qualified substitutes: With a solid HCM foundation, you are equipped with the information you need to find qualified substitutes, and you can make their day-to-days easier so that they’ll want to staff classrooms.

Special Education Directors: Meet the needs of the whole child

For you, the value of HCM is all about people: you can attract and retain high-quality educators to provide the best learning environment for your most vulnerable students. Effective HCM helps you:

  • Overcome resource constraints: How often do you feel like you don’t have enough people to handle the amount of paperwork you manage on a regular basis? With a connected HCM strategy, you can make it easier for special educators to be more efficient, and ensure that when you’re recruiting for an open position, you’ll get the right person into the role.
  • Ensure teacher quality: Working in special education is far from easy. HCM allows you to take a more proactive approach in providing robust professional development to help them get through the toughest days.

Teachers: Feel empowered to make an impact

In many ways, you’re at the heart of HCM. You can take ownership of your career and grow in your practice in ways that impact your students.

  • Be more prepared: Each day brings new challenges, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, especially if you’re a new teacher. When your district has an effective HCM strategy and the right technology, you can get back to working with students faster rather than stressing over endless paperwork.
  • Improve your practice and grow in your career: HCM’s focus on growth directly impacts you, giving you opportunities for career development and professional growth to foster confidence and resilience.

Want to learn more about what strategic HCM could do for you? Learn about Frontline’s HCM suite here.

 

Elise Ozarowski

Elise is a writer and member of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. A former member of Frontline’s events team, she is passionate about making connections, whether that be in person at events, online via social media or directly in her writing.

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