Universities as good employers
Every year the US journal Chronicle of Higher Education carries out a survey designed to establish which US higher education institutions are best to work for. This year 43,000 staff were surveyed, with a response rate of just under 50 per cent. The questions asked ranged from the extent to which senior university leaders took employee well-being seriously, to questions about the work-life balance.
On the positive side overall, the survey found that even during these more difficult times most higher education faculty and staff enjoy their jobs and are proud to work for their institutions. On the other hand, may indicated they were suffering from stress and could not identify much in the way of a work-life balance. One other (for me) surprising finding is that university staff can be motivated by the same sort of things that are used in industry, such as discounted purchases or holidays, subsidised veterinary care for their pets and even opera tickets.
This blog, by the way, is intending to do a survey on this topic in the autumn in Ireland, and on the whole I expect similar findings: a continuing commitment to university work, but growing disenchantment with the conditions.
Overall one of our problems is that we treat academic employment as vocation rather than profession, meaning that the world expects academics to make sacrifices in order to be allowed to do work that they love. Of course many careers can involve a sense of vocation, but it is not reasonable to treat university faculty and staff as people who do not need to enjoy the conditions and benefits considered normal in other employments. Or at least, not any longer.
To return to the Chronicle‘s survey, the journal has used it also to compile a table of the best higher education institutions to work for. Interestingly, none of the Ivy League institutions make an appearance in the ‘honor role’, containing the top 40 institutions. There is presumably some lesson in there somewhere.Explore posts in the same categories: higher education, university comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.