Study Makes the Case for Employee Engagement in Higher Education Institutions

Cornerstone OnDemand and Ellucian survey uncovers reasons behind
employee disengagement in higher education institutions and how employee
engagement programs can impact organizational success

SANTA MONICA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#HR–A recent Gallup survey revealed that more than half of higher education
faculty members (52 percent) are not engaged in their work, and an
additional 14 percent are actively disengaged. But what are the causes
of this lack of engagement, and what are the broader implications? A new
study from Cornerstone
(NASDAQ: CSOD) and Ellucian,
and conducted by Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group,
suggests that faculty members and staff at higher education institutions
are disengaged at work due to several factors, including a lack of
professional development opportunities and overwhelming workloads.
Ultimately, this disengagement leads to high employee turnover rates.

Conducted by Cornerstone and Ellucian, the “2016 Employee Engagement and
Retention in Higher Education” study surveyed 469 respondents who work
at higher education institutions, including public, private and
for-profit colleges and universities. For the purpose of the survey,
“faculty” includes professors, assistants and researchers, while “staff”
includes administrators, as well as support and grounds personnel.

According to the study, faculty and staff are seen as having a great
impact (81 percent of respondents) on student success. However, despite
this influence, nearly half (47 percent) of institutions neither track
nor measure employee engagement. And, 39 percent of higher education
institutions surveyed do not offer any form of employee engagement
opportunities, such as leadership development, recognition programs or

Other key survey findings include:

  • Attracting and Retaining Employees in Higher Education is a Common
    The survey results indicate that academic institutions
    are having a hard time sourcing and retaining top talent for both
    faculty (61 percent sourcing, 59 percent retaining) and staff alike
    (62 percent sourcing, 69 percent retaining). Although this is due in
    part to compensation, it’s reported that work load, workplace culture
    and competition from other colleges and universities are all top
    drivers of employee attrition. Additionally, 41 percent of respondents
    say turnover is above average for staff at their college or
    university, and 27 percent say the same is true for faculty. Nearly
    three-quarters agree that there is a direct correlation between
    employee engagement and employee retention (71 percent for faculty, 80
    percent for staff).
  • Few Higher Education Institutions Calculate the Financial Impact of
    Employee Turnover.
    Despite the sourcing and retention challenges
    flagged in the survey results, only 29 percent of respondents said
    their institution calculates the financial impact of employee
    turnover. Employee engagement programs, such as professional
    development, employee mentoring and flexible work options, can result
    in better retention rates and significant cost savings for the
    organization over time. For example, Iowa State University estimates
    an average savings of more than $83,000 per faculty member retained
    when engagement practices are applied, according to the American
    Council on Education.
  • Learning and Development Opportunities Lead to Employee Loyalty. In
    an open question to respondents asking what employee engagement
    initiatives could improve student outcomes, there was an overwhelming
    amount of feedback pointing to more professional development and
    learning opportunities. According to the survey, 97 percent of
    respondents feel that personal development programs for all employees
    have an effect on student success.

    What’s more, the
    institutions that offer development opportunities to their employees
    are approximately twice as likely to have less turnover than those who
    don’t, which underscores just how important it is for employees to
    feel valued at work. Those who are given opportunities to learn and
    grow and who feel they are being invested in are much more likely to
    remain loyal to their employer.

Comments on the News

“One definite conclusion we can draw from the results of this survey is
the need for continuous learning and development for higher education
employees. At academic institutions, learning is heavily focused on the
students, and rightfully so. However, research shows that the colleges
and universities that invest in learning and development programs for
both faculty and staff have more engaged employees, which can greatly
impact the success of the students,” said Mike Bollinger, global AVP of
thought leadership and advisory services for Cornerstone OnDemand.
“Faculty and staff members help create the student experience, and it’s
up to the institution to provide their employees with the learning
curriculum, professional development opportunities and recognition they
deserve to help both higher education employees and their students

“Higher education institutions face unique challenges in regards to
sourcing, retaining and engaging employees. Nearly half of all higher
education institutions don’t track employee engagement, and less than 30
percent measure the cost of turnover, which stresses the need for
academic institutions to reassess priorities and implement change,” said
Laura Weathersby, human capital management expert and director of
product management for Ellucian. “One of the first steps in overcoming
these challenges is evaluating employee engagement and sentiment to
establish a baseline, then setting achievable goals for improvement.
Employee engagement can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s
important to really listen to employees and source feedback and
suggestions from them to build an effective engagement strategy that
will benefit employees and students alike.”

Additional Resources

About the Survey

Cornerstone OnDemand and Ellucian collaborated with the Human Capital
Media Research and Advisory Group to conduct the “2016 Employee
Engagement and Retention in Higher Education” survey from June 20 to
July 18, 2016, among 469 participants ages 18 years and over who are
employed full or part time at a higher education institution. The survey
was sent to HR professionals at the manager level and above, and has a
margin of error of 5 percent. Results were collected online and all
responses were voluntary. Respondents came from institutions of all
types, including public, private and for-profit institutions.

About Ellucian

Ellucian is the worldwide leader of software and services designed for
higher education. More than 2,400 institutions in 40 countries rely on
Ellucian to help enable the mission of higher education for over 18
million students. Ellucian provides student information systems (SIS),
finance and HR, recruiting, retention, analytics and advancement
software solutions. With more than 1,400 institutions subscribing to
Ellucian’s cloud services and SaaS offerings, the company is one of the
largest providers of cloud-based solutions. Ellucian also supports the
higher education community with a range of professional services, such
as application software implementation, training, education, and
management consulting. Visit Ellucian at

About Cornerstone OnDemand

Cornerstone OnDemand (NASDAQ: CSOD) is the global leader in cloud-based
learning and talent management software. The company’s solutions help
organizations realize the potential of the modern workforce. From
recruitment, onboarding, training and collaboration, to performance
management, compensation, succession planning and analytics, Cornerstone
is designed to enable a lifetime of learning and development that is
fundamental to the growth of employees and organizations.

Based in Santa Monica, California, the company’s solutions are used by
more than 2,700 clients worldwide, spanning 26.3 million users across
191 countries and 42 languages. To learn more about Cornerstone, visit
us on TwitterFacebook
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Cornerstone® and Cornerstone OnDemand® are
registered trademarks of Cornerstone OnDemand, Inc.


Cornerstone OnDemand
Kristy Gonzalez, +1 (310) 382-9563
Jones, +1 (703) 261-2219