Carnegie Mellon University

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February 03, 2021

HR Generalist Service Model Pilot a Success; Will Be Expanded in 2021

The HR Generalist Service Model Pilot, successfully initiated in fall 2019, was implemented along with a variety of enhancements to HR systems and processes as part of OHR’s Strategic Plan. The pilot shifted staff transaction entry responsibilities from department initiators to HR generalists. Participating colleges and divisions were the Division of Student Affairs, Dietrich College, Marketing & Communications, Tepper School of Business and University Libraries.

Service Goals

Through the HR Generalist Service Model, OHR aims to provide a high-touch, consistent and reliable service model targeted to specific audiences through:

  • A stronger, more direct connection between HR and supervisors, employees and student workers/supervisors
  • An elevated customer service experience
  • Tailored service to onboard new employees via weekly onboarding sessions
  • Streamlined and standardized execution of staff transactions
  • Increased compliance with HR processes including all requirements related to new employees (e.g., Form I-9, benefits enrollment) and all post-hire processes (e.g., performance management, compensation changes, grievance processes, terminations).


While initially reluctant to cede control of staff transactions, some participants expressed appreciation for their partnership with OHR. Susan Kinchelow, associate dean for business and finance, Dietrich College, noted that “[the HR generalist pilot] has truly been a partnership and I have developed close working relationships. For the college, the business managers gave up control of the Workday input. The loss of control was a struggle at first. However, now they appreciate the support that the HR generalist provides them.” Likewise, Sara Dawida Novelly, business manager for Marketing & Communications, expressed that “the transition was relatively seamless and went almost-unnoticed by most in the division (a good thing!) … HR did a great job of meeting us where we were, hearing and understanding our concerns, and doing the best job possible of helping us transition to this new way of doing things.”

Participants also noted that it was helpful to have the support of an HR generalist during what turned out to be a tumultuous year. As Rhonda Fischer, chief operating officer for the Tepper School of Business, shared, “Having the HR generalist as an extension of our team has allowed us to leverage the knowledge base of the Office of Human Resources, which has been particularly valuable during the pandemic when processes and procedures have changed rapidly, and the corresponding communications have been plentiful.” And Kinchelow stated, “I am so thankful for the support of my HR Team. I don’t know how the other colleges managed to get through the year without similar support.”

Regarding the level of service provided by her HR generalist, Fischer said, “We communicate often, and I have found the HR generalist to be simultaneously responsive and proactive. The experience has been wonderful, and we look forward to exploring ways to expand upon the HR generalist’s role within the Tepper School.”

Model to Expand in 2021

OHR plans to expand the HR Generalist Service Model in June 2021 to incorporate Workday transaction entry for all divisions and most colleges, focusing on staff and faculty transactions. The responsibility to initiate Workday business processes for these transactions will shift to one or more HR generalists assigned to each college or division.

Prior to the rollout, OHR will work with each college or division to establish new ways of working and ensure a smooth transition. The approach to this change is as follows:

  • In most areas, the “department initiator” Workday role will no longer be granted to non-HR personnel.
    • The initiation responsibility for the bulk of student worker transactions will continue to reside with each department, and individuals who initiate transactions for student workers will be granted a new “student initiator” role.
  • Campus personnel who need to retain the ability to view transactions for their department will be granted the “department data view” role in Workday, as appropriate.
  • HR generalists will be granted the ability to initiate transactions in Workday for their assigned colleges and divisions.
  • HR generalists will coordinate procedures with each division to gather necessary information and initiate transactions.