What Concerns College and University Human Resources Officers?

October 31, 2014

By: John Gaal

vt-300x134A few weeks ago, Inside Higher Ed issued its 2014 Survey of College and University Human Resources Officers.  Like Inside Higher Ed’s other surveys, this one provides very interesting reading. Among the topics covered in this survey of 330 responding institutions are several questions pertaining to adjunct employment.  Given the continued union organizing efforts among adjuncts, these questions are particularly timely.  Only 20% of all respondents “strongly agreed” that their institutions fairly compensated adjuncts, down from 24% in 2013.  (The full survey provides a further breakdown of all survey results by whether the responding institutions are public/private and by degrees awarded.)  Only 19% “strongly agreed” that an appropriate benefits package was provided to adjuncts.  (For example, only 27% of respondents indicated that their institutions provide health insurance benefits for adjuncts.)  An even lower number, 15%, “strongly agreed” that their institution provides appropriate job security and due process protections for adjuncts.  Yet, perhaps surprisingly given these results, only 4% “strongly agreed” (with another 8 percent “agreeing”) that unions help adjuncts secure better wages, benefits and working conditions (73% “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed” that unions help). The Survey also focused on retirement concerns.  Sixty-four percent of respondents were “very concerned” or “moderately concerned” about faculty working past retirement age, with 54% concerned that their institutions lacked sufficient retirement incentives for eligible faculty (only 18% “strongly agreed” that their institutions offered sufficient phased retirement options for faculty).  Not surprisingly, 67% were “very concerned” or “moderately concerned” about health care costs for retirees. Some of the benefits information was also very interesting.  While 64% of institutions reported allowing telecommuting, that number was based on 87% of responding public institutions allowing it, and only 41% of private institutions.  As to be expected, 93% of all responding institutions provide financial support for employee enrollment in higher education courses, but only 81% provide it for children of employees (69% of public institutions and 95% of private institutions).  Health care coverage for opposite sex domestic partners is only provided by 58% of the responding institutions, with 55% of institutions providing other benefits to same sex domestic partners.  Thirty-three percent of respondents (47% of public institutions and 18% of private institutions) provide onsite child care for employees. With respect to criminal background checks, 81% of all institutions (83% public, 79% private) reported conducting these checks as part of the faculty hiring process.  A slightly higher amount, 89%, reported doing criminal background checks on staff. Other topics covered by the Survey include sexual harassment efforts and non-discrimination policies, hiring and training practices, and social media policies. The Survey is well worth a close review.