Voluntary turnover in the higher education workforce continues to rise, according to findings from a recent College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) survey.
According to the 2023 Higher Education Employee Retention Survey – which involved surveying more than 4,780 higher ed employees nationwide – 56% of respondents reported that they are at least somewhat likely to look for other jobs in the next 12 months. And one-third of respondents said they are likely or very likely to do so even.
“The talent retention problem in higher education is not abating,” said Dr. Jackie Bichsel, director of research at CUPA-HR. “College and university leadership would be well served to make investment in a retention strategy both an immediate and ongoing priority. The Employee Retention Survey report provides the data and recommendations that will help leaders prioritize and strategize the targets of their talent retention efforts.”
Half of respondents said they are working more than full-time hours.
Employees under the age 45 are much more likely to look for other employment than older employees. And men and employees of color are significantly more likely to look for other employment, according to the report.
However, this turnover does not mean that these employees are leaving higher ed. While 60% of employees are looking for non-higher ed jobs, 70% are looking for opportunities at another school.
Employees are also not being incentivized to stay, with only 59% reporting receiving regular verbal recognition for good work. And just 53% reported receiving a pay increase in the past year, with promotions and bonuses even rarer.
According to CUPA-HR, recognition and sense of belonging are far more important than fair pay in predicting retention.
“College and university leaders must do a much better job of positioning their organizations as employers of choice in what will continue to be a highly competitive job market,” said CUPA-HR President and CEO Dr. Andy Brantley. “Employees expect meaningful work, competitive pay, reasonable working hours, greater schedule flexibility and benefits structured to meet the needs of today’s employees. As noted in this report, leaders throughout an institution must meaningfully focus on all of these challenges and opportunities every single day.”