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    Higher education workforce benefits. What’s your strategy?

    Academia, like most industries, continues to struggle in its' effort to regain footing in a post-pandemic labor market. For higher education specifically, fluctuating enrollments are contributing to drastic shifts in workforce stability. Employees at every level are demanding more competitive pay, benefits, and work-life balance. Administrators are reacting by carefully weighing and recalibrating their employment strategies—and that means reviewing benefits packages.

    While open enrollment season typically happens in November, human resources teams at colleges and universities  are hard at work preparing for the next year.

    These are the key questions human resources should be asking  each year.

    • What's our benefits strategy?
    • Did a gap analysis reveal that our institution needs to focus on retaining or recruiting talent—or both?
    • Were we able to provide a buffet of benefit choices to ensure that current or prospective faculty and staff are complacent, happy, and motivated?
    • Are we considering the needs of our remote workforce?
    • At what level are we comfortable with cost-sharing with employees?
    • Are we stuck with little bargaining power with benefit vendors?

    As a higher education administrator, if any of these questions give you pause, it's likely time for a consultation with an expert in solving employment challenges.

    For 75 years, Kelly has been helping companies around the world attract, onboard, develop, and manage their workforce. When we partner with institutions, we have the flexibility to customize a benefits administration program that meets your strategic needs.

    With decades of experience and more than 150 higher education clients, we know that educational institutions are saddled with legacy costs and employment contracts that drive up cost. The dedicated higher education practice at Kelly Education operates in all 50 states, so we are able to leverage large-scale buying power with our vendors. We have the ability to negotiate market-competitive benefits that are regularly benchmarked.

    The remote workforce challenge.

    As the pandemic initiated a greater remote workforce, some of our partner institutions have found that managing out-of-state employees going forward can be difficult because of the variability in disability and leave laws at the state and local levels. We have the expertise to manage compliance where your employees work, easing the burden for institutions. Kelly also offers ACA compliance for eligible employees, so employers do not risk a penalty from the IRS.

    Change can be difficult for employees, and we understand that too. We take great pride in how we communicate about pay and benefits to them. At Kelly Education, we use interactive technology to reach both remote and in-person employees—providing a top-notch educational experience ahead of open enrollment, including instructional videos and an interactive benefits guide. Employees can use different tools to answer their pressing benefits questions and set up time to meet with certified benefits counselors to discuss their options. In addition to helping employees select the benefits that are right for them, we also work to help them use their benefit dollars wisely to keep money in their pockets.

    There’s no doubt that the pandemic has changed higher education––and its workforce. There’s no returning to business as usual. New strategies for tackling cost containment are an organizational imperative to survival. Now is the time to explore strategic partnerships in employee and benefits management so that your institution can hire and retain the best workforce available to educate students.

    Michael Plater, Ph.D. is a distinguished leader with 30+ years in academia, holding positions as university president, provost, dean, and professor. As vice president of Kelly Education, Dr. Plater is a strategic business partner to administrators at institutions of higher education. His passion is helping to solve the economic pressures of talent-related challenges for colleges and universities around the globe.

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