Last October, the Staff Forum of the University of New Carolina at Chapel Hill Published a report Regarding the impact of COVID-19 on university employees. It highlights two overriding issues: staff feel ignored, ignored, and excluded from communication, and they report a culture of distrust and fear.Nine months later, on the employee’s official back-to-school day, the forum Released the second report Summarize employees’ views on the return and the lessons learned from the impact of the ongoing pandemic. The findings of the second report are disappointingly similar to those of the first report: continued opacity and the struggle between the community and division.

I am one of the authors of these reports. These reports represent an important effort to improve the voice of employees on campus. Senior management should be reminded to ask, is my organization actively listening to employees’ opinions? No one or university is an island. The report synthesizes the staff’s concerns and suggestions and suggests that not only UNC should also consider the lessons learned from other higher education institutions—especially as they deal with the challenges and uncertainties of the reopening this fall.

Compared with faculty and students, faculty and staff often find themselves unprivileged and invisible. This kind of job inequality is at the core of many employees’ frustrations, and it is also an urgent problem that campus leaders must address.Addressing job inequality in higher education is not a substitute for racial equality, although the intersection of these issues is most obvious in many issues Non-administratively necessary workers. Being listened to and ensuring personal safety is the lowest form of privilege, but some campuses are restoring past norms without meaningfully hiring employees or ensuring their safety in the following ways The much-needed vaccine directiveAlthough these institutions try to create a near-normal fall semester, one thing is very clear: the world has changed.

Changing workforce

The shift to a largely remote world last spring provided employees with an opportunity to reset their priorities. As the family becomes an office space and parents become the common mentor of K-12 children, everyone should cope with the physical and mental impact of the global pandemic, and work-life balance has a new meaning. Despite the urgent and involuntary transition to remote work, many university employees find that they are equally or more productive at home, enjoy the benefits of flexibility, and are excited about getting rid of long commutes and cramped parking spaces. Higher education institutions now understand that many employees are unwilling to give up the balance they achieve through remote or mixed work schedules.

The university now finds itself at a Darwinian turning point: either adapt or die.Flexibility, especially in terms of working hours and location, is An important strategy to retain employees“We will have institutions that can accept the demands of change and flexibly attract and retain talent,” Said Andy Brantley, President and CEO of CUPA-HR, Association of Higher Education Human Resources Professionals. “There will be others who choose not to do this. Some of them may succeed, but I think many of them will suffer because of not adapting.”

Rebuild face-to-face communities more equitably

University leaders across the country must now rebuild their face-to-face communities. In some cases, staff will return to campus earlier than students and faculty, laying the foundation for a successful semester. When institutions consider how to bring them back to campus fairly, they should base their plans in a procedural justice framework.

Procedural justice focuses on transparent processes and the way people perceive fairness through their experience.Although often used in policing, procedural justice directly applies to Higher Education Classroom And code of conduct. Any back-to-school program must be realistically and conceptually fair to employees who have flourished through remote work for more than a year.By adding the following The four pillars of procedural justice, The administrator can build trust with employees and increase the legitimacy of the plan.

Voice. In any process, the key to fairness is to give people a chance to speak-and then listen to what those voices are saying. Some campuses have been actively planning the future of their workforce.During the pandemic, Duke University and Boston University A committee was formed to reimagine the workplace.Both organizations sent surveys to their broader employee community, and Duke found 74% of employees surveyed Want to continue some kind of remote or mixed work. In the same survey, employees ranked the greatest benefits of remote work, including no commuting, higher productivity, and more daytime flexibility—reactions reflected in the UNC Chapel Hill report.

Among other recommendations, both UNC Chapel Hill reports called on senior leaders to commit to greater transparency.The second report encourages senior leaders to practice Reflective listening By communicating what they have learned from employees to employees. In short but targeted recommendations, the report requires senior leaders to listen and trust employees.Consulting employees can help the organization Break the cycle of leadership echo chamber, Improve employee morale and avoid strategic mistakes.

respect. Many universities are Assign responsibilities Determine flexible work arrangements at the school or department level-a method rooted in respect for employee experience and knowledge. The decentralized decision-making structure enables managers to do the best for the business needs of employees and departments. This method requires the actual support and coordination of human resources.Both director and employee Need guidance to deal with the return to work dialogue. Guidance to managers is especially important to avoid capricious, biased, and ultimately unfair decisions.Campus leaders should encourage managers to innovate and make flexible work schedule decisions between the two Considering logistics and fairness.

neutral. Fair decision-making with clear, consistent and transparent reasons is at the core of neutrality. The back-to-school plan should ensure the most equitable distribution of burdens and benefits among all employees. One-size-fits-all methods are inherently unfair because they do not take into account differences in personal needs, efforts, contributions, or advantages.

Fair policies are not necessarily equal.Quote one Famous baseball graphics, If everyone stands on a box of the same height, some people cannot see through the fence. Staff understand that differences in positions and responsibilities lead to differences in work schedules. Many people see flexibility in the workplace as a benefit, but realize that not all employees can benefit from this benefit because of the nature of their roles.Administrators should consider how to best compensate these employees through higher salaries, bonuses, on-campus allowances, flexible work weeks or flexibility During working days.

Embedding equity in the fall semester plan means addressing persistent job inequality in higher education. UNC Chapel Hill’s latest report has drawn attention to the way the campus is divided and the pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing tensions between groups.

E.g, Carolina together The website explains that the university is mandating the wearing of masks indoors, but allows some exceptions that raise fairness issues: faculty and staff maintain social distancing while teaching, and individuals working in private offices are free to take off their masks. The allocation of private work space is usually stratified by position and income, with faculty, administrators, and high-income employees benefiting from the privileges. There are tensions between employees who want to continue working remotely and individuals who have been on campus throughout the pandemic. Those who have worked on campus for the past 17 months are annoyed by the fuss about returning to campus. As one survey respondent put it, “We are just verbal Carolina.”

Credibility. In the context of procedural justice, trustworthiness is essentially caring about the people affected by your decision and conveying moral intent. Despite the availability of vaccines, we are still in a pandemic, with new and highly spreading variants.The first concern expressed by the respondents was the spread of COVID-19 and The rise of Delta variantsSpecific examples in the report include concerns about crowded public transportation, which many employees living in neighboring counties use for their daily commutes.Given Jeonju Vaccination rate In North Carolina, approximately 55% of employees aged 12 and over are concerned about daily public bus rides with people who may or may not be vaccinated. Employees working in laboratories or small offices are also worried about the spread of the virus at close range. Campus leaders are obliged to protect the welfare of employees and communicate their plans to ensure the safety of employees.

Bottom line

Colleges and universities are complex places, with competing priorities. Campus leaders must balance the needs of employees with the needs of the organization.

With the proliferation of Delta variants, bringing the very real possibility of rapid transformation back to distance learning and working across the country, acting within the framework of procedural justice is more important than ever. Decisions on how the campus responds to the increasing number of positive cases must include the voice of employees, be made with respect for campus stakeholders, reflect neutrality and demonstrate trustworthy motives. Both UNC Chapel Hill reports emphasized the disturbing lack of trust in the relationship between employees and managers, and this trust will worsen if campus leaders continue to make opaque decisions in the administrative bubble.

The hierarchy of privileges in many of our institutions has led to questions such as “Who has the right to make a choice?” The answer often does not include employees. The staff at UNC Chapel Hill have spoken, and their lessons apply to all organizations: prioritize fairness, commit to transparency, embrace flexibility, and listen to employees.


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