Course Projects

City of Stamford Human Resources Reorganization Project

City of StamfordThe Mayor of Stamford sought an organizational redesign of the Human Resource function for the City of Stamford that would facilitate desired changes in the Human Resources function 3 to 5 years from now.

Questions that were addressed include: Is the human resources function in the City of Stamford current in its size, approach and structure? Is the Human Resource Department managed properly? Where should the Human Resources Department be within the overall City structure?

The desire was to makes changes to the culture and structure of the Human Resource Department as a first step toward making changes to the culture of City Government in Stamford. The focus was on reinventing the structure, resources, services, and culture of human resources as a first step toward reinventing the structure, resources, services, and culture of Government functions Citywide. The Mayor saw the Human Resource Department as leading the cultural shift.

A number of critical issues were addressed, first in the Human Resource Department and then, eventually, in Government Services Citywide. These included the management of labor relations, managing the value city workers provide the city, proper training and development for all city workers but especially management level workers, and a focus on cutting edge talent management and performance management. 

The human resource function in the City of Stamford was dealing with a prospective transition that many not-for-profit and for-profit organizations deal with...namely a shift from a human resource function that is a cost center or a “cost of doing business” to a human resource function that is a strategic business partner within the organization. Strategic business partner can be viewed in two ways:  one, executing human resource functions more strategic, in line with the overall strategy of the organization, and, two, driving strategy formation and execution throughout the organization.  

Sacred Heart University, the Welch College of Business, and Masters of Science in Human Resource Management program:

  1. Benchmarked Human Resource functions of other comparably sized city governments, not-for-profit organizations, and for-profit organizations. 
  2. Developed a human resource strategy that moves the human resource function from a transactional, reactive model to a strategic, proactive model.
  3. Highlighted a performance management system and culture, developed a talent management system including a robust training and development function, and recommended cutting edge labor relations strategy.

LifeBridge Health Benefits Program Redesign Project

LifeBridgeLifeBridge Community Services partnered with the Sacred Heart University, Masters of Science in Human Resource Management Capstone Research Class to address the dilemma many employers are facing relative to employer-sponsored health insurance. This project involved the development of a strategy to determine how to optimally offer medical insurance in the post Affordable Care Act (ACA) environment.

The MS-HRM Capstone team considered various options for offering medical insurance given the regulations in the ACA:

  • Fully Insured – the employer pays a premium to a health insurance carrier to accept liability up to the limits defined within the plan and to administer claims payment.
  • Self-Insured – the employer pays 100% of all medical claims. This option, when combined with a wellness component, is expected to perform well. However, the employer has to have the funds to support payment of all employee claims.
  • Public Exchange – sole use of the public exchange, i.e., getting out of the business of offering health insurance to employees. However, the employer will pay a $2,000.00 federally mandated penalty for each employee enrolled in the public exchange.
  • Private exchanges – use of a private exchange sponsored by a health insurance carrier, insurance broker, or other third party. Employees would choose from several options taking into consideration their medical needs and financial risk relative to deductible and copay options.
  • Combination of self-insurance plus a consumer-driven private exchange – the employer may choose to pay medical claims (self-insure) up to a pre-determined threshold. Thereafter, the responsibility for claims payment belongs to the exchange.

The team also reviewed the entire ACA and noted additional consideration that Lifebridge needed to consider with regards to its health insurance redesign. The major additional consideration involved the “Cadillac tax” which will be implemented in 2018 for plans considered “benefit rich,” i.e., a 40% tax on premiums in excess of $10,200 for a single annual premium, and $27,500 for a family annual premium.

Fairfield County's Community Foundation

Our Challenge

Fairfield County’s Community Foundation is in a period of change, moving from a traditional community foundation model to become more strategic and focused on community leadership work.  As a small organization, we are limited in our ability to promote people, which could create a top-heavy organization. We also have limited funds for pay increases. We constantly seek ways to motivate and reward employees to ensure maximum engagement and productivity.

Sacred Heart University, the Welch College of Business, MS-HRM Program:

Designed, develop, and implemented an employee engagement survey. The aim was to perform an initial survey, analyze the results, develop action plans to address any issues and establish a cycle for future surveys to measure progress.

The MS-HRM Capstone was chosen for the project so that the survey was administered by an outside group ensuring confidentiality, and that individual survey results were not shared with the Community Foundation.

The Capstone Team successfully:

  • Gain an understanding of the Foundations mission, vision, values, strategic direction and human capital objectives.
  • Researched best practices in performing employee engagement surveys.
  • Developed survey questions to assess level of engagement.
  • Administered the survey, collected and analyzed the results.
  • Presented results to the Community Foundation’s Leadership Team and made recommendations to address areas in need of improvement.

Wakeman Boys & Girls Club

The Organization Challenge
Wakeman Boys & Girls Club is a non-profit organization serving nearly 4000 youth in 1st-12th grade annually through 100 programs, leagues, camps, events, and drop in activities. Wakeman does not have a Human Resources Director or any policies/procedures for processes of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, evaluating, retaining, disciplining, and terminating employees.

The MS-HRM Capstone Team, at Sacred Heart’s Welch College of Business:
Developed and recommended guidelines of policies and procedures for the core HR processes. These guidelines were based on best practices for non-profit organizations, particular youth serving organizations, in accordance with State and Federal law.

The team researched and developed recommendations of policies and procedures for:

  • A single employment application to replace three current applications used by the organization
  • An interviewing guide for supervisors responsible for hiring personnel working in positions of youth development and positions of management
  • A conducing references checklist
  • An at-will employee agreement for new employees
  • An employee performance management process
  • A drug testing policy and procedure
  • A discipline/termination procedure for employees in supervisory roles
  • An identification of areas requiring variances for staff who are minors
  • A review of volunteer management procures related to relevant HR area

The Affinion Group

The Affinion GroupAffinion, a global leader in loyalty and engagement solutions, designs, administers and fulfills loyalty and engagement programs that strengthen and expand the value of relationships for our leading clients around the globe.

The Affinion Group asked the MS-HRM Capstone Team to complete best practice review and determine appropriate framework to use when conducting and revamping all Affinion Global HR Policies and Practices. Once the appropriate framework was approved by Affinion, the Team matched current Global HR Policies and Practices into the framework and determined actions needed to align current state to future state. The aim was to develop a number of simple, clear and comprehensive new HR policies and practices as identified.

Child & Family Guidance Center

Child & Family Guidance CenterThe Child & Family Guidance Center, is a child-centered, family-focused, and community-based agency that offers high-quality mental health care and behavioral supports to children under the age of 18 and their families.

The Center asked the MS-HRM Capstone Team to conducted extensive research on Performance Management Frameworks and Performance Appraisal formats and Systems. In order to provide recommendations and supporting material to support the implementation of a new Performance Management System to include the new Performance Appraisal. The implemented Performance Management System supported the alignment of organizational values and goals to the desired organizational and employee performance.