- Over a third of higher education supervisors, 36%, are likely to look for a new job in the next year, according to a new survey from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, CUPA-HR. And only 40% said they were interested in finding employment opportunities at their current institution.
- Almost three-fourths of supervisors said the job expectations heaped upon them increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just over half of non-supervisors said the same.
- The strongest predictor of retention was whether supervisors felt they had resources and support in their role. But only 59% of supervisors indicated they receive such support, the survey found.
Employee-retention concerns are prevalent across higher education, but the latest data from CUPA-HR shows workers in supervisory positions are being stretched thin. Their departures would have far-reaching consequences, leaving employees to adjust to new bosses and colleges to update succession plans, according to the survey.
CUPA-HR surveyed 3,815 higher ed administrators, professionals and nonexempt staff as part of its annual employee retention survey. A majority of respondents, 57%, were supervisors, and their responses indicated they largely felt under-resourced and overworked.
Among area supervisors — those in charge of their entire departments — 89% reported regularly working more hours per week than what their institutions classify as full-time. And 76% of other supervisors reported working past full-time status. In comparison, only 47% of non-supervisors worked beyond the standard number of hours per week.
Ironically, 63% of supervisors said a challenge was filling empty positions on their staff. Maintaining staff morale was the second biggest obstacle, with 54% reporting it to be very challenging.
Pay is the most common reason higher education employees look for other work, according to CUPA-HR. But area supervisors ranked it as less important than higher education employees with other jobs titles. Non-area supervisors cited pay as a reason for looking for another job at similar rates as non-supervisors, 79% and 80%, respectively. But only 64% of area supervisors named pay as a concern.
To help prevent an exodus, colleges should commit to reducing supervisor workload and provide them with support for their job duties. This is especially important when supervisors are also acting as hiring managers, something a majority found to be very challenging.
Supervisors should also be given knowledge, resources and freedom to advocate for their staff and be able to offer them the option to work remotely or flexibly as needed, CUPA-HR suggested.
Colleges should raise salaries for supervisors when possible, but not at the expense of other employees, according to CUPA-HR.