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Report: Higher Ed Neglecting Employee Engagement

Faculty and staff engagement and retention is financially beneficial to higher education institutions and contributes to student success, yet many colleges and universities are not measuring employee engagement, according to a new report from Cornerstone OnDemand and Ellucian. The report follows up on a recent Gallup survey, which found that 52 percent of higher ed faculty are not engaged in their work, and 14 percent are actively disengaged.

The report, "Empowering Employees: The state of employee engagement and student retention," is based on the 2016 Employee Engagement and Retention in Higher Education survey conducted by Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group in collaboration with Cornerstone OnDemand and Ellucian. Survey participants included 469 faculty and staff members from public, private and for-profit colleges and universities.

The survey found that employee recruitment and retention is a common challenge for colleges and universities. Contributing factors to that challenge include compensation rates, workload, workplace culture and competition from other higher ed institutions.

Key findings related to employee recruitment and retention:

  • 61 percent of institutions have difficulty sourcing top faculty, and 59 percent struggle to retain top faculty;
  • 62 percent have difficulty sourcing top staff, and 69 percent struggle to retain top staff;
  • 27 percent report above average turnover rates for faculty;
  • 41 percent report above average turnover rates for staff;
  • 71 percent see a correlation between faculty engagement and retention; and
  • 80 percent see a correlation between staff engagement and retention.

According to information from Cornerstone OnDemand and Ellucian, "employee engagement programs, such as professional development, employee mentoring and flexible work options, can result in better retention rates and significant cost savings for the organization over time." However, 39 percent of institutions surveyed do not offer any form of employee engagement opportunities.

"One definite conclusion we can draw from the results of this survey is the need for continuous learning and development for higher education employees. At academic institutions, learning is heavily focused on the students, and rightfully so. However, research shows that the colleges and universities that invest in learning and development programs for both faculty and staff have more engaged employees, which can greatly impact the success of the students," said Mike Bollinger, global AVP of thought leadership and advisory services for Cornerstone OnDemand, in a press release. "Faculty and staff members help create the student experience, and it's up to the institution to provide their employees with the learning curriculum, professional development opportunities and recognition they deserve to help both higher education employees and their students succeed."

For the purpose of the survey, faculty included higher education professors, assistants and researchers, and staff included administrators, support staff and grounds personnel.

A free, downloadable PDF of the report can be found on Cornerstone OnDemand's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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