How Modern Tech Can Address the Higher Education Employment Crisis
For college and university employees, 2021 was a much better year than 2020. The hundreds of thousands of jobs that were lost in the early days of the pandemic slowly came back. But something has shifted in 2022; schools are not only struggling to fill vacant positions, they are also struggling to retain current staff and faculty. The issue is so pervasive that many institutions are worried about their ability to continue business as usual. They know they need to find a solution to this employment crisis fast.
Several surveys have come out recently attempting to understand why professionals are leaving higher education. The latest College and University Professional Association for Human Resources survey (which revealed that more than half of higher ed workers are looking to leave their jobs) found that 76% of respondents want more money. They also want positions with more flexibility and more opportunities for remote work. Additionally, because staff shortages are causing more work for current employees, this is leading to further burnout and resignations.
Perhaps the current staff retention issue is part of why an increasing number of institutions that upgrade systems are choosing a single-vendor ERP solution. Modern, unified technology platforms can help institutions increase efficiency, cut costs, and stay agile. In many cases, these new solutions also promise to help with employee hiring.
Institutions looking to address staffing concerns are no doubt asking themselves: Are these promises legitimate? Below we examine the ways in which modern technology and single-vendor ERP solutions can help institutions address the employment crisis.
Can Modern Technology Help Prevent Staff Burnout?
A recent poll of student affairs officers by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators found that 84% who quit their positions blamed burnout—partially from pandemic-related student crisis management, but also due to rising levels of job-related stress. This stress isn’t native to student affairs. New pandemic-related protocols, government regulations, and the continuing enrollment crisis has caused stress to mount across campus.
It’s been well documented that new tech can do a great deal to ameliorate stress-induced burnout. Modern SIS and ERP solutions automate many time-consuming manual tasks, which reduces workloads and increases productivity, accuracy, and efficiency.
More subtle, however, is a modern system’s ability to free up time for staff to interface with students. For many college and university employees, their student-facing responsibilities are some of the main reasons they choose to work in higher education. Regaining that ability is an important factor in their decision to remain in their positions.
Can Modern ERPs Help Institutions Invest More in Their Workforce?
For many institutions, declining enrollments means declining revenue which, in turn, means salary increases are next to impossible. Additionally, modernizing campus systems isn’t inexpensive, so how would investing in an ERP solution give institutions additional funds to invest in their workforce?
There may be something to the adage, “You have to spend money to make money.” There are myriad ways modern ERPs help reduce costs. Systems that are cloud-based are scalable and enable institutions to control associated overhead. Modern solutions also make it easier to centralize and analyze data, which means institutions can make data-informed, cost-saving decisions. Additionally, because ERP solutions automate and streamline manual tasks, they reduce the need for excess hiring.
Add to this the many ways modern ERPs help institutions with student enrollment and retention and it’s easy to see how these systems not only help cut costs but can increase revenue. This gives institutions the resources they need to increase employee salary and incentivize new hires.
Can Modern ERPs Enable Institutions to Better Support Faculty and Staff?
The decision to provide flexible and remote opportunities are at the discretion of each institution, but modern ERPs give institutions the tools necessary to better support staff and enable the types of environments that many of today’s employees seek.
Because modern systems often integrate with products like self-service chatbots, communications platforms, and learning management systems, they support faculty and staff efforts by making it easier to conduct outreach, answer questions, and teach lessons in hybrid environments.
Can Modern ERPs Help Fill in Staffing Gaps?
Each ERP system will have its own unique modules, but many solutions will have an HCM system as a core component. These modern human resource solutions can greatly speed up the hiring process and help institutions swiftly fill vacant positions.
How are they able to do this? Modern HCM systems enable HR staff to expedite the recruitment, interview, and onboarding processes. They also give HR staff the ability to easily communicate with search committees, track and fill open positions, and offer comprehensive and competitive benefits.
A Single Vendor Solution May Be Your Best Bet for Addressing the Employment Crisis
Where recently institutions followed a best-of-breed purchasing model—selecting disparate systems for disparate departments—many have found that this has created a series of headaches for staff. The best-of-breed approach has stymied attempts to share student information between departments, perpetuated departmental silos, and created additional work and training.
This isn’t the case with an all-in-one solution. By integrating finance and HCM systems with student information systems, modern ERPs facilitate data sharing; streamline and automate tasks; reduce costs; and implement the tools necessary to support, retain, and hire college and university employees.
Whether an institution chooses to use an ERP system to better its campus working environment will vary from campus to campus. However, close examination of modern ERPs demonstrates that they possess the tools necessary to help higher education address its staffing concerns.
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