Jul 28, 2010

Great Colleges to Work For (and Attend?)

It doesn’t take a business degree to know that organizations experiencing high levels of employee job satisfaction tend to produce superior results. If staff is disgruntled or work climate impaired, you can bet on a diminished work product.

In the world of postsecondary education, the end user is the student. If teaching or administrative staff experience ongoing workplace issues, students are likely to at least sense a problem. The worst case scenario is one in which these issues actually affect the quality of the education offered.

For this reason, the Chronicle of Higher Education’s third annual Great Colleges to Work For survey offers interesting insight into the overall happiness quotient of staff and administrators at some of the nation’s most recognizable postsecondary institutions.

To get a fuller understanding of workplace satisfaction, about 43,000 staff members on 275 campuses were surveyed. In general, findings suggest that “colleges continue to do well at creating work that makes a difference, providing jobs that fit the individual, and fostering a high degree of institutional pride.”

But the survey also found that as colleges are operating in a slumping economy, tight budgets appear to be “eroding confidence in college leadership.” So it’s no surprise that among the 97 colleges whose employee ratings and institutional policies earned them recognitions as “great places to work,” communication seems to be a major distinguishing factor.

Approximately 20,000 of the college employees who responded to the survey were faculty members, more than 14,800 were professional staff members, and 8,100 were administrators. The survey was based on an assessment used in 55 Best Places to Work programs, with a panel of higher-education experts customizing questions to reflect issues unique to colleges.

Survey responses helped form 12 Great College recognition categories. High ratings in those categories were considered core attributes of a great academic workplace, with thirty four-year and nine two-year colleges earning places on a Great Colleges to Work For “Honor Roll.”

Locally, George Mason University, Georgetown, Salisbury, UMBC, UVA-Wise, and Washington and Lee University were cited as great colleges to work for. Only GMU received a spot on the “Honor Roll,” earning recognition for collaborative governance, professional/career-development programs, job satisfaction, work/life balance, confidence in senior leadership, as well as respect and appreciation.

For the complete report and an interactive chart showcasing the 97 Great Colleges to Work For, visit The Chronicle website (subscription may be required).

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