In 2017, after a successful pilot with several campuses of a large public university system, we launched our Faculty Retention and Exit Survey nationwide.
This study represents the first multi-institutional survey of faculty retentions (among those with outside offers) and departures. Until now, there was no coordinated effort for universities to develop a common understanding of the causes, costs, and conduct of faculty mobility. Below are several key findings from the pilot study for practitioners.
Salary doesn’t matter as much as you probably think; colleagues matter more. More than half of faculty (57%) ranked salary as a secondary factor or not at all in their decision to stay or leave. Yet 67% selected quality of colleagues as a compelling factor.
Further, the study’s insights into the negotiation process are suggesting some troubling gender bias. For example, among those who didn’t ask for a counteroffer, men are more likely than women to receive one, anyway; among those who do ask for a counteroffer, women are more likely to be denied.
Higher education's “counteroffer culture” has real costs. Faculty are expected to cultivate outside offers before they can ask for a better deal at home. This requirement pushes them out the door: we are finding that nearly 1 in 3 faculty who left had originally sought the offer only to renegotiate the terms of their employment.
Universities have a “home-field advantage” in retaining dual-career couples. Retentions were nearly twice as likely as departures to have a spouse employed at the same institution. The implications for women are particularly acute: 48% of women versus 21% of men ranked spousal employment as a primary factor in their decision to stay or leave.
Continue reading for a breakdown of our findings, as well as recommended practices for improving faculty retention, negotiation processes, and overall satisfaction with their institutions as places to work:
To request a copy of the full pilot study briefing, email firstname.lastname@example.org.