Behind every single student who succeeds are faculty and staff – often several – whose selfless dedication, professionalism, and passion make that success possible. This begs the question: what are higher education institutions doing to ensure that faculty and staff stay motivated and drive student and institutional success?
Historically, the onus for engagement, performance outcomes, and retention rested primarily with the student rather than the institution. However, as costs have risen and the link between an educated workforce and economic development has tightened, many stakeholder groups, including governments and associations, are holding institutions directly accountable by tying funding to performance outcomes and retention. As a result, the work of faculty and staff to manage student success across the student lifecycle becomes increasingly challenging.
Enabling a great employee experience would inspire faculty and staff to stay motivated in their roles. The Harvard Business Review found that “one inspired employee can produce as much as 2.25 satisfied employees.” Inspired faculty and staff is where we really see impact, and its those employees that will make meaningful contributions to student and institutional success.
So how do we reimagine the employee experience, and consequently drive more engaged and inspired faculty and staff?
First and foremost, we should define what we mean by employee experience. Experts at futureworkplace.com state that “employee experience is the sum total of all the experiences an employee has with their employer over the duration of their relationship with the employer.” It starts with the experience a potential candidates go through when applying for a position at the institution, to when they join as a new hire, to their experience as alumni.
It is not just students that need to be engaged with a continuous, personalized, and proactive experience. This large community of employees – from student workers to faculty, to staff – all have needs, and all need to be empowered to meet the mission and goals of the institution. Student workers in particular – most of which are Gen Z – are coming of age in a radically new world. They are born into a digital era defined by instant and ubiquitous access to information as well as a host of other things, and they are experiencing boundless creative possibilities. Hence, it is important to provide them with the foundation to be creative and successful.
There are two parts to this: one is providing faculty and staff with modern technology that can help with everything from onboarding to helpdesk to broader collaboration. Workplace technology across all industries has not kept up with consumer technology and higher education is no different. Disconnected, outdated technology leaves faculty and staff frustrated, disengaged, and unproductive, which means they are unable to focus on the mission of the institution. Moreover, without modern technologies in place, institutions are likely to be seriously under-armed in the war for talent.
The second is culture. While the right technology offers incredible potential, it must be accompanied by a shift in workplace culture to fully unlock speed, agility, and innovation. Some of today’s most dynamic brands, from Amazon to 21st Century Fox, have established the formula: digital transformation + cultural transformation = success. They have embraced a new work style tailored to the digital age, emphasizing collaboration and empowerment so employees can get more done and make meaningful contributions every day.
This is called a culture of action. A culture of action connects faculty and staff, and has them using modern, integrated, and mobile technology to meet institutional goals. Institutions that adopt this move away from the current culture of stagnation – which unfortunately involves siloed teams and data, outdated tools etc. – that exist at several institutions, and towards a culture that accelerates productivity and empowers innovation among faculty and staff.
We at Salesforce.org believe that all students deserve high-quality education, but it is not possible without the tireless work of institutional employees. Thus, if we truly believe that access to quality education is the foundation for a diverse, empowered, and skilled society, then we should also believe that it is faculty and staff that will enable this, and should commit to supporting them.
About the Author
Nathalie Mainland is SVP and GM of Education Cloud at Salesforce.org. She has over 15 years of experience working in technology and education with organizations including Blackboard, Autodesk, and Pearson. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter: @nmainland