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Research Report

Prioritizing staff retention to build an inclusive institutional culture in higher ed

April 26, 2022

Key Insights

As the Great Resignation rebrands to the Great Reshuffling, staff retention at higher education institutions remains as important as ever. EAB Analysis of 2021 CUPA-HR data found that higher education institutions lost about 650,000 workers in 2020, whether to retirement, resignations, or involuntary separations. Between 2020-2021, the rate of staff turnover from resignation came out on top as nearly 10 percent of non-exempt full-time staff and eight percent of exempt full-time staff left higher education.

While many institutions cannot change pay grades nor their location, there are retention best practices which can enhance an inclusive culture on campus. For example, institutions can embed intentional and inclusive staff retention practices by tracking demographic data and collecting feedback, creating flexible work options and transparent career pathways, and integrating training and hiring efforts within the local community. Such retention efforts are proactive, rather than passive, because they encompass the entirety of the employment lifecycle, encourage employee participation, and build relationships and trust.

With holistic retention practices, higher education institutions can create a welcoming work environment for a diverse workforce and enhance their reputations as an employer of choice. As your institution continues to build an inclusive culture, there are three common gaps to address related to retention:

  • Collect data to understand baselines and set trackable goals
  • Engage staff in establishing new workplace norms
  • Hire local to support the regional workforce

Insights and best practices for partners

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