Navigating Higher Education Employee Retention Challenges: Insights from the 2023 CUPA-HR Survey

October 23, 2023

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Title: The CUPA-HR 2023 Higher Education Employee Retention Survey

Authors: Jacqueline Bichsel, Melissa Fuesting, Diana Tubbs, and Jennifer Schneider

Source: College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR)

CUPA-HR has released the latest version of an annual report that provides insight into employee retention in the field of higher education. The report delves into various factors influencing employee retention, including, but not limited to, the likelihood of seeking alternative job opportunities soon, remote work policies, satisfaction with benefits, well-being, and job environment satisfaction.

The 2023 survey captured insights from nearly 4,800 higher education administrators, professionals, and non-exempt staff. Forty percent of those surveyed were supervisors.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Over half (56 percent) of employees were likely to seek new employment within the next twelve months, with 33 percent highly likely to do so.
  • Sixty-eight percent of employees agreed most of their job duties could be done remotely.
  • Two-thirds of respondents reported their current work arrangements are mostly or completely on-site, with only 11 percent being mostly or completely remote, and 24 percent hybrid.
  • Half of higher education employees reported working additional hours beyond full-time expectations, with those working in human resources reporting the highest rate (60 percent) of working extra hours.
  • Thirty-five percent of supervisors found maintaining staff morale particularly challenging.
  • General job satisfaction was at 58 percent, down from 62 percent in 2022.
  • Specific areas of satisfaction included good relationships with supervisors (80 percent) and finding purpose in their work (79 percent).

To retain employees at higher education institutions, CUPA-HR recommends that institutions:

  1. Prioritize improving basic job satisfaction elements
  2. Address overwork issues and prevent current employees from bearing the retention crisis burden
  3. Offer regular and meaningful pay increases
  4. Implement flexible work arrangements
  5. Ensure employee safety and ethical leadership
  6. Enhance parental benefits
  7. Support supervisors and the role they play in retention efforts

To explore findings and methodological information about the report and survey, click here.

—Alexandria M. Falzarano

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