3 in 5 higher education employees feel unheard at work, survey says

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Dive Brief:

  • More than half of higher education employees, 59%, reported feeling unheard at work, according to a new survey from consultant Grant Thornton. Only 17% of respondents said they are actively looking for a new job, but 49% would consider a switch if a new opportunity presented itself. 
  • Faculty and staff also expressed discontent about their pay and compensation. Just 37% said their pay allows them to live the lifestyle they choose. That’s compared to 46% of respondents from Grant Thornton’s cross-sector State of Work in America survey.
  • Similarly, 39% of higher ed employees said they thought their benefits plan offered something other employers couldn’t. That’s significantly less than the figure researchers found across fields, 51%.

Dive Insight:

Like most industries, the education sector has been hit hard by employees leaving their jobs amid a tight labor market, a trend known as the Great Resignation. Grant Thornton’s new survey aligns with a July report from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources that found more than half of college employees said they’re likely to leave their jobs in the next year.

Remote work options continue to be a strong employment incentive, with 56% of higher ed respondents preferring to go into the office less than four days every two weeks, Grant Thornton found.

“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,” Gary Setterberg, managing director of human capital services at Grant Thornton, said in a statement. “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.”

Among more than 550 higher ed employees surveyed, 59% said their manager provides the support they need to succeed. But only 34% said the broader institution understands their needs.

Higher ed employees shared the same top two stressors as other sector respondents — personal debt and medical issues. But the third most common cause of stress was the political and social environment. That comes as academia withstands increasing political attacks.

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