How do higher ed employees feel about their jobs? Evidently, not so great

A new survey reveals more than half of employees feel their voices aren't being heard by their institutions.
By: | August 8, 2022

Over the past two years, higher education institutions across the U.S. have had no choice but to overcome the adversities resulting from the pandemic by adapting and developing new strategies to support their students.

More recently, colleges have had to implement solutions to help support those struggling to keep their heads above water amidst troubling economic times. A recent study published by Public Agenda revealed that only 49% of Americans believe the economic benefits of a college degree outweigh tuition costs. In addition, students are having difficulty obtaining affordable housing.

Bu another stakeholder group that is arguably as important as the students is university employees, who are just as dissatisfied as the students, according to research.

In a survey released by Grant Thornton this week, more than half of higher education employees say they feel their voices aren’t being heard. Furthermore, 56% of employees prefer going into the office fewer than four times within a two-week period.

“Turnover and burnout are becoming more prevalent in higher education, and it has never been more important to truly understand how your faculty and staff are feeling,” said Principal and Leader of Grant Thornton’s Employee Listening and Human Capital Analytics Services Offerings Tim Glowa in a statement. “In fact, 17% of those polled are actively looking for a new job with a different institution, while 49% are not actively looking but would consider a switch if a new opportunity came along. Institutions must implement robust listening tools and use data analytics to keep their people engaged, happy and committed to staying.”

Other key findings:

  • 59% of employees say their manager adequately provides support for their employees to succeed.
  • 39% of employees think their benefits and rewards are “unique and different.”
  • 34% of employees say their needs as an employee are met by their institution.

Personal debt and medical issues are the top two stressors for university employees, with “political and social environment” following closely behind in third.

“The value proposition for working in higher education has long been that benefits and job security will be an attractive counter to higher compensation in the private sector,” said Gary Setterberg, managing director of Human Capital Services for Grant Thornton. “But university employers are now discovering that today’s Millennial and Gen Z candidates come to their institution expecting significant workplace flexibility, favorable work-life balance and strong benefits, as well as ‘industry-competitive’ salaries in line with other sectors.”

More from UB: Reaching Gen Z: Action steps colleges can take to ensure they are interested