Paul L. Caron

Thursday, March 3, 2022

To Stem The Great Resignation Of Staff At Your University Or Law School, Stop Mission-Based Gaslighting

Chronicle of Higher Education, Right Now, Your Best Employees Are Eyeing the Exits:

To stay, they need better pay, reasonable hours, and an end to mission-based gaslighting.

Two years of pandemic life have left campus staff members beyond burned out. They are done. And they are leaving or thinking about it in droves. I know because I was one of them. After nearly 13 years working in residence life — a field to which I was deeply committed — I left higher education last March for the private sector. The move increased my salary by 50 percent and cut my workload in half. ...

Very little is keeping them at your institution. You are hemorrhaging talent and institutional knowledge. The pandemic has forced many labor sectors to fundamentally shift how they view work, and if campus leaders fail to do the same, no one will be left to help you “get back to the way things used to be.”

Here’s what staff members need their institutions to know, hear, and most important, act upon:

Stop engaging in mission-based gaslighting. Stop saying things like, “What did you expect to get paid? You work in education!” or “You should be grateful to still have a job,” or “We don’t get paid much, but it’s worth it to see a student’s growth.” By using the mission to make your staff members feel ridiculous for asking for a raise or better benefits, you are shutting down legitimate concerns. People are rapidly realizing they have a skill set that can be used elsewhere — in positions that benefit others without being subjected to such treatment. ...

To the staff members still working long hours for your college: Thank you. If you don’t hear it directly from students, supervisors, or leaders, know there is a community of people out there cheering you on. Should you decide to leave higher education, you can find work where you will be valued and paid what you are worth. To those who stay, I wish you decreased workloads, reasonable hours, and the opportunity to feel joy again. You are doing tough, important work. Don’t lose yourself in the process.

Any senior leaders reading this far can of course take this advice or leave it. But know that plenty of other employers see the talent that you have left on your teams, and they are willing to pay for it. Can you afford not to change?

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