Pay Up, Confidence Down, Perks Abound
Recent surveys indicate a slight uptick in higher education salaries, a dip in confidence about a financially secure retirement, and the importance of employee perksHigher Education Pay Raises
The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources recently released the results of its 2010-11 salary surveys for higher education faculty members, mid-level administrators, and senior-level administrators. With regard to the latter, survey data show that some institutions are again beginning to award salary increases to senior-level leaders. In 2010, the overall median base salary increase was 1.4 percent, up from 0.0 percent in 2009. However, increases occurred more frequently at private institutions than at their public counterparts, where the median salary increase was again 0.0 percent, compared to a median increase of 2 percent for private institutions. Baccalaureate and special-focus institutions had the highest median salary increases at 2 percent each, while doctoral institutions had the lowest median salary increase at 0.5 percent.
Salaries for this survey were reported across 11 job categories: senior executive officers, chief functional officers, academic deans, academic associate/assistant deans, academic affairs, business and administrative affairs, human resources, information technology, athletics, student affairs, and external affairs. In particular:
- The median base salary for a CEO at a single institution ranged from $167,895 at associate's institutions to $385,000 at doctorate-granting institutions.
- The median base salary for a chief academic officer at a single institution ranged from $118,645 at associate's institutions to $275,000 at doctorate-granting institutions.
- The median base salary for a chief business officer at a single institution ranged from $115,242 at associate's institutions to $228,762 at doctorate-granting institutions.
Other executive salaries reflected similar differences based on institution type. The highest paid deans were those in the areas of medicine, dentistry, public health and law, while the lowest paid deans were those working in occupational studies/vocational education, instruction, mathematics, divinity/theology, and special programs.
For more information and data overviews of all CUPA-HR salary surveys, go to http://www.cupahr.org/surveys/surveys_press.asp.
Meanwhile, the latest Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) published by Employee Benefit Research Institute finds record low confidence among workers attempting to adjust to a "new normal." (Note: As referred to in the study, the "new normal" reflects various forces causing many Americans to delay retirement: federal, state, and local government fiscal crises that are described as requiring permanent changes in programs and policies; rising health care costs with a no clear path to control; low interest rates and investment returns; longer life expectancies; later retirement ages for Social Security; less job security; and various other long-term factors, the slow movement of the Baby Boom generation into the "senior" years, which will take the proportion of the population over the age of 65 from under 14 percent today to more than 21 percent before the last boomer retires.)
Some general findings of the latest RCS include:
- The percentage of workers not at all confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement grew from 22 percent in 2010 to 27 percent, the highest level measured in the 21 years of the RCS. At the same time, the percentage very confident shrank to the low of 13 percent that was first measured in 2009.
- The increase in the percentage of workers not at all confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement appears to be largely due to a loss of confidence among those who have less than $100,000 in savings. This percentage increased sharply among those with savings less than $25,000 (up from 19 percent in 2007 to 43 percent in 2011) and between $25,000-$99,999 (up from 7 percent in 2007 to 22 percent in 2011).
- A sizable percentage of workers report they have virtually no savings or investments. Among RCS workers providing this type of information, 29 percent say they have less than $1,000. In total, more than half of workers (56 percent) report that the total value of their household's savings and investments, excluding the value of their primary home and any defined benefit plans, is less than $25,000.
- The age at which workers expect to retire continues its slow, upward trend. In 1991, half of workers planned to retire before age 65 (50 percent), compared with 23 percent in 2011. Stated another way, the percentage of workers who expect to retire after age 65 has increased over time, from 11 percent in 1991 and 1996 to 20 percent in 2001, 25 percent in 2006, and 36 percent in 2011. The poor economy (36 percent), followed by lack of faith in Social Security or the government (16 percent) and a change in employment situation (15 percent) are the most frequently cited reasons for postponing retirement.
Attributes of Admired Workplaces
According to the 2011 FORTUNE magazine's World's Most Admired Companies rankings, an ability to sustain performance in bad times as well as good is one key distinguishing factor of top organizations.
For 14 years, Hay Group has partnered with FORTUNE to rank the world's "most admired" companies, considering a range of business practices and priorities. Conversations with senior executives at top-ranked companies this year further revealed that adaptability is an overarching hallmark of success.
Other attributes earning high marks include:
- Growth prioritization—that is, the ability to actively seek and support your best opportunities, even in tough economic times.
- Innovation—not only in new areas, but through working to improve things that aren't broken and proactively addressing potential problems.
- Employee involvement and engagement—asking employees for their ideas and empowering them to take action to improve efficiencies and effectiveness.
- Positive work environment—commitment to keeping employee skills sharp and addressing workplace conditions that inhibit success.
An emphasis on work/life balance is likewise an attractive feature for employers seeking employee loyalty. As noted in the recently published FORTUNE 100 "Best Companies to Work For," smart companies "don't take retention for granted, especially now that the economy is showing signs of life." The annual profile ranks employers based on opportunities for job growth, favorable work environments, pay, and perks. With regard to the latter, perks that are unusual or uniquely suited to the nature of the organization can win accolades from employees.
For instance, online footwear and apparel retailer Zappos.com (ranked No. 6 on the list) offers employees free lunches, 25-cent vending machines (for which all proceeds go to charity), and the free services of a full-time life coach on staff. Because customer service is key to the business proposition of Zappos, all new hires spend their first month on the job working in a call center—even those whose jobs don't entail customer interaction.
Meanwhile, employees at No. 9-ranked adventure gear retailer Recreational Equipment (REI) receive 50 percent to 75 percent discounts on full-price REI-branded equipment and apparel, free rentals on equipment such as kayaks and skis, and an annual gift of REI gear. Through a "challenge grant," employees are also entitled to as much as $300 worth of gear if they participate in a challenging outdoor adventure.
Similarly, No. 10-ranked film production company DreamWorks Animation motivates its creatively minded employees by offering them free sculpture, drawing, and improvisation classes. In addition to free movie screenings, employees are encouraged to pitch their own movie ideas. The studio runs "Life's a Pitch" workshops that help employees hone their presentation skills.
Karla Hignite, principal of KH Communication, is editor of NACUBO's HR Horizons. E-mail: email@example.com.