Higher-ed leaders can apply the same listening skills and level of investment put forth for students toward their faculty and staff.

Attention higher-ed leaders: Faculty and staff have something to say

Higher-ed leaders can apply the same listening skills and level of investment put forth for students toward their workers

An organization’s greatest asset is its people. In no other industry is that more true than in higher education. The importance of faculty and staff can’t be overstated; they are, in every way, core to carrying out the mission of higher education.

The sharp increase in retirements and resignations in recent years has hit colleges and universities hard. Stress and burnout are intensifying and turnover trends show no sign of slowing: a new survey from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources found that more than half of respondents (57 percent) said they were likely – very likely (22.4 percent), somewhat likely (22.3 percent), or likely (12.5 percent) – to seek work elsewhere within the next year.

A recent survey that polled more than 15,000 respondents, 1,000 of whom work in education, may offer more insight into this mass exodus:

  • 89 percent of respondents who work in education believe their employer should be doing more to listen to the needs of their workforce.
  • 83 percent of surveyed educators expressed wanting to make changes in their careers.
  • 73 percent said they felt stuck in their careers in the past year.

Faculty and staff are redefining and realigning their personal and professional priorities, and higher-ed leaders need to listen and respond accordingly, or risk losing their best people. While there’s no silver bullet to improve retention, there are some best practices that institutions can adopt to improve job satisfaction—and technology can help.

Invest from day one

Institutions should put employee satisfaction at the top of their list from day one: investing in the growth and success of faculty and staff with as much determination as they invest in student success. This mindset should extend to job candidates as well.

Some institutions still have a months-long, onerous hiring process with illogical formalities and little communication throughout. While some of these hoops are matters of compliance, unreasonable interview processes send the wrong message and scare off qualified applicants. Institutions need to up their game when it comes to recruiting and onboarding new employees. The good news? Institutions already have a blueprint for thoughtful, engaging, and exciting recruitment practices… because they’re already doing it with prospective students.

Make applying easy. Be clear and concise with position descriptions. Do away with unnecessary hurdles—are seven rounds of interviews really necessary? Ask candidates about their career goals. And finally, show them that if they join your team, you’ll invest in them for the long term.

Get aligned on career goals

Colleges and universities already closely track the career development of graduates, and of faculty tenure and professional development. That same approach can be applied to staff members as well. Leaders should spend time helping staff identify current competency levels, such as strengths and gaps, and build a development plan that aligns long-term career interests with the direction of the institution.

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