University Park, IL,
14:41 PM

Conversation with Leader: Josh Allen

Bettering the community through human leadership and development

Professional headshot of a smiling man

In ways big and small, visible and invisible, Joshua Allen, Vice President of Human Resources, has impacted the working lives of faculty and staff at Governors State University (GovState) in just two years.

Allen joined GovState in 2021 as Associate VP-Human Resources and since then, he and his staff have been working to enhance employee appreciation, training and development, the work culture, equitable compensation and hiring processes.

One of Allen’s first priorities is to make sure his staff “puts the human back in human resources.” He explained: “As I’ve advanced in my career, I’ve learned that it’s all about taking care of people.”

Allen brought 20 years of military leadership in the U.S Air Force and human resources experience at Missouri State University to GovState. His military duties included eight years working in human resources and administration at the Community College of the Air Force. He was part of a leadership team overseeing the technical training of 1,500 recruits annually. Many are first generation college students, 18 years old and away from home for the first time.

His military experience made him adept at change. “It gives you the tools in your toolbelt  to change course with a moment’s notice,” Allen explained. “You learn how to deliver change in the best possible way.” While active in the military, he also earned a Master of Professional Studies, (Human Resource and Employment Relations), at Pennsylvania State University.

GovState appeared to be a perfect fit for his talents and background. Allen said he fits the description of a non-traditional student, like many others in the military. “When I saw what GovState was all about, it looked like a great opportunity to make a difference,” he said.

Allen didn’t see the campus until after he accepted the position. He immediately liked the fact that “you can get anywhere from here, but you can also see deer and cornfields.” The Allen family wanted to move closer to relatives in Michigan and chose to reside in Crown Point, Ind. Allen and his wife are actively involved in the Down Syndrome Association of Northwest Indiana, in support of their daughter.

Two years into Allen’s leadership, the Human Resources team has been delivering on the vision of President Cheryl Green to develop and support the campus community. True to her goals, all employees can use up to $2,500 at the University’s School of Extended Learning. Called the Securing Excellence through Employee Development and Support (SEEDS), employees can access classes on topics that may or not relate to their careers.

The benefits and compensation team has performed an extensive evaluation of salaries and adjusted the pay of nearly 100 individuals, he said. “This doesn’t include raises, it’s just that we discovered some individuals should be paid more from an equity perspective,” Allen explained.

The department’s talent acquisition team reduced the average number of days it takes to fill an open position from 201 to 54. “And we’re able to find quality, exceptional talent,” he said, adding that he wants his team to function as a strategic business partner.

And Human Resources has restored the in-person employee recognition events, to build camaraderie and lower stress. 

The result is a major improvement in employee turnover, a key factor in morale, job performance and organizational effectiveness. “The past fiscal year, we were able to hold turnover to 10 percent,” Allen said. “That’s the lowest percentage at GovState in 15 years.”

But there’s more work to do, Allen explains. “Looking out 10 years, I’d like to streamline processes and digitize employee files to do away with paper,” he said. “People could access their files at any time, from anywhere.”

He’s also contributing to the future of the human resource profession by hiring GovState students, so they gain first-hand experience. He has two student employees and just received approval for a third.

Allen knows he’s landed in the right place for his future and the future of GovState. “In higher education, there’s such a great sense of service to the students and to the community. That's especially true here at Governors State University."