Remote Work Policies and Inadequate Salaries Are at the Root of Higher Ed’s Talent Crisis

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More than half (57%) of higher education professionals are likely to consider other employment opportunities in the next 12 months, according to new research from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR).

“The CUPA-HR 2022 Higher Education Employee Retention Survey: Initial Results” was piloted in May 2022 in the hopes of better understanding how many higher ed employees are at risk of leaving their current jobs and why. The findings can help inform employers on ways to increase retention and improve the higher education workplace.

The data comes from 3,815 staff and administrators (not including faculty) from 949 institutions in 15 departments/functional areas.

The survey shows that an increase in pay is the top reason employees are considering other jobs, but other factors include a desire for more remote work opportunities, increased flexibility with their schedules, and more responsibility.

There is a misalignment between employees’ preferred work arrangements and what colleges and universities are offering. While 63% of employees are still working primarily or completely on-campus, 71% of employees reported that most of their responsibilities can be performed remotely and 69% expressed interest in at least a partially remote arrangement.

The survey also reveals that higher ed professionals are working longer hours and taking on extra responsibilities post-pandemic, which could be contributing to burnout. “Nearly two-thirds (63%) have taken on additional responsibilities of other staff who have recently left,” the report states, “and nearly three-fourths (73%) have taken on additional responsibilities as a direct result of the pandemic. “

Overall, the data shows several common areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Generally, employees are happy with their benefits, their sense of belonging, job responsibilities, and their relationships with their supervisors. “Areas of dissatisfaction include investment in career development, opportunities for advancement, fair pay, remote work policies, and parental leave,” it says.

The survey results are clear — higher education is having trouble retaining talent. CUPA-HR provides several suggestions for employers looking to increase retention including increasing salary when possible, granting more flexibility in schedules and remote work options, and being considerate when it comes to workload and expectations of overtime, among others.

For more information on the survey results and how to implement the recommendations, read the Full report.

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