At the end of September, Inside Higher Ed (IHE) released its 2014 Survey of College and University Human Resources Officers. Gallup conducted the research study on behalf of IHE. The study surveyed 330 chief human resources (HR) officers from various public, private nonprofit and for-profit institutions. The survey aimed to gauge the opinions of these individuals on issues related to retirement, hiring and training, and other related subjects.
The survey revealed some interesting insights into the minds of higher education HR officers. It also helped to bring a deeper understanding of how they are managing challenges like the aging of a predominantly Baby Boomer workforce. The survey produced some compelling data in the following three areas that turned out to be particularly noteworthy:
Hiring & Training Practices
Within the “Hiring & Training” section of the survey, Gallup generated some enlightening statistics on the use of onboarding and training programs by each participating institution. The survey also delved into some of the common practices being used by these institutions during their hiring initiatives. One practice that has markedly increased in recent years is the use of criminal background checks.
The survey asked each HR officer whether their institution uses criminal background checks as part of their hiring procedures. 81 percent of the respondents said their institutions conduct criminal background checks when hiring faculty. Moreover 12 percent said that they do not currently conduct background checks on faculty job candidates, but indicated that they were considering doing it in the future.
Likewise, 89 percent of the surveyed HR officers said that their schools conduct criminal background checks when hiring non-faculty staff (“staff”). And, 91 percent of the respondents who were from private institutions said that they use criminal background checks for their staff hirings.
As the survey shows, colleges and universities are increasingly using criminal background checks as part of their standard hiring practices. They understand that a job applicant’s criminal history can completely change the complexion of their candidacy.
Yet, conducting a criminal background check can be a laborious exercise. In most cases, it serves in a school’s own best interest to partner with an employment screening company that specializes in conducting criminal background checks.
But prior to pursuing such a partnership, higher education HR executives should learn about the top things to look for when selecting an employment screening company.
Adjunct Faculty Members
Over the last few years, numerous media outlets have written about the poor treatment of adjunct faculty working at colleges and universities across the country. Salon’s Matt Saccaro recently wrote a great investigative piece on this problem. He discovered that some adjunct professors are making a yearly wage that is comparable to the annual earnings of an “average full-time barista.”
In response to this growing problem, campaigns have arisen to try and unionize adjunct faculty members on campuses around the U.S.
The survey uncovered higher education HR officers’ levels of awareness about this issue. Each of the surveyed HR officers shared their opinions about compensation levels for adjunct faculty at their respective institutions. Only 20 percent of the respondents strongly agreed with the suggestion that their institution fairly compensates its adjunct faculty members.
Even more notable, a mere 15 percent of those surveyed strongly agreed that that their institution “has appropriate job security and due process protections for adjunct faculty.”
In addition, most of these HR officers did not have a high level of faith in the potential benefits of unionization. A startling 55 percent strongly disagreed with the notion that “unions help adjunct faculty win better wages, benefits and working conditions that they would receive otherwise.”
Employers in every industry have begun to feel the impact of an aging labor pool. Many companies and organizations are top-heavy with Baby Boomers. During the last decade, astute employers prepared accordingly for the anticipated fallout triggered from the retiring Baby Boom generation. The survey reveals how well higher education institutions planned for this oncoming dilemma.
Only 11 percent of the surveyed HR officers strongly agreed that their institutions offered “sufficient phased retirement options” for staff. Also, 18 percent of the respondents said the same about such options being afforded to faculty.
What is more, 32 percent of HR officers further stressed that they were very concerned about faculty “working past traditional retirement age.”
Above all, the growing costs of healthcare for retirees stood out as the main issue at the forefront of most HR officers’ minds. 35 percent of the respondents expressed that they were very concerned about this issue, while 32 percent said they felt moderately concerned.
If you would like to learn more about the findings of the survey, IHE will be hosting a webinar on Tuesday, October 14 at 2:00 pm (EDT). IHE’s editors Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman will review the highlights of the research, and are welcoming HR pros to join the conversation.
Disclaimer Statement: All information presented is for information purposes only and is not intended to provide professional or legal advice regarding actions to take in any situation.