Aug 10, 2012

‘Great Colleges to Work For’ 2012

It doesn’t take an MBA to understand that organizations experiencing high levels of employee job satisfaction often produce superior results. If staff is disgruntled or the 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 and administrative staff experience ongoing workplace issues, students are likely to sense problems. 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 fifth 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 47,000 employees—up from 44,000 in 2011—on 294 campuses were surveyed. In general, findings suggest that great academic workplaces are where “campus leaders were involved and openly appreciative of the work of their employees.”

Even with tight budgets and an uncooperative economy, colleges that stood out were characterized by “[o]pen channels of communication, along with concrete ways of appreciating employees and helping them balance work and home.”  

And although employees were given the opportunity to rate tangible financial benefits like retirement plans, it turns out that career development programs, satisfaction with physical workspace, and flexible work arrangements turned out to be key factors in satisfaction.

Approximately 20,000 of the college employees responding to the survey were faculty members, 8,500  administrators, and nearly 18,000  “exempt” professional staff.  After the responses were tallied, the survey identified 103 "outstanding" institutions.

In addition, survey responses helped form 12 Great College recognition categories. High ratings in those categories were considered core attributes of a great academic workplace, with 30 four-year and 12 two-year colleges named to the Great Colleges "Honor Roll."

Locally, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), George Mason University, and Old Dominion University earned recognition on the Great Colleges Honor Roll. All three institutions particularly stood out in the areas of Professional Career Development Programs, Respect and Appreciation, and Work/Life Balance.

For the complete report and information summarizing the 103 Great Colleges, visit The Chronicle website (subscription may be required for some articles).

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