COVID-19 forever altered the higher education landscape. It forced schools to turn traditionally on-campus roles into remote roles. It also changed how institutions think about hiring staff and faculty. With geographic location no longer the deciding factor in many cases, schools now have a wider and more diverse pool of talent to choose from.
One of the biggest challenges facing administrators this school year and beyond is how to develop their workforces with disruptive factors such as remote learning, satellite campuses, and acquisitions. How can these institutions ensure a competitive workforce has the competencies and skillsets to respond to radical challenges in the industry?
According to a recent study from McKinsey & Company, younger workers in particular (18-29 year olds) are most interested in a hybrid work set-up, working two to three days a week from home, and the rest in an office. Technology will play a key role in providing institutions with the tools, data, and insights they need to assess the effectiveness of programs, departments, staff, and faculty to make a hybrid environment work.
A New Hybrid Workforce
As colleges and universities begin opening their doors for the fall semester, many will support a hybrid model for students and staff. Embracing this move will require institutions to have a proper technology infrastructure in place in order to train and support faculty and staff as they adjust to this evolving way of working.
Schools that have made investments in their IT environments – even if they are only at the early stages – are better positioned to facilitate this evolution and provide staff with the tools they need to learn.
In addition to helping train and support staff, technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation can help staff do their jobs more effectively. In many areas, these technologies are changing the fundamentals of the job, reducing or even eliminating manual, time-intensive tasks. This gives employees valuable time back that can be repurposed to student-facing tasks that more concretely contribute to the school’s mission.
On top of enabling a hybrid workforce, schools must have a way to measure the effectiveness of programs, departments, and individual faculty and staff. With staff and faculty working part or full-time remotely, technology is critical for establishing accountability. Cloud-first technology solutions help institutions manage employees more efficiently based on best practices; provide a modern, user-friendly platform; and transform the institutional business processes to ultimately deliver education at a lower cost.
These cost savings can be used to enhance the student experience, as well as the workforce experience. Schools looking for a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining talent should provide employees with greater transparency regarding career development. Technology plays a part here, too – for example, AI, machine learning, and data analytics can pick up on promotion patterns, as well as the kind of training and experience that senior leaders have. Schools can deploy these technologies to scan their workforce for staff with the requisite skillsets and backgrounds and promote from within, which is far more sustainable and cost-effective than going to market for new hires.
The insights provided by these technologies can also help leaders create personalized goals and metrics for individuals, enabling greater employee success. As the higher education industry becomes more experienced with the hybrid learning and hybrid workforce model, we will certainly see more innovation and progression, influencing the way institutions approach technology investments and strategic decision making.
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