6 things that 'Great Colleges to Work For' do well

Strong communication takes place across all levels of an organization

The colleges that made the Chronicle of Higher Education's list of great places to work all have strong cultures of communication and transparency, Richard Boyer reports.

Colleges that engage in effective communication are better equipped to handle challenges throughout the campus community. Dialogue is encouraged and administrators know how to get the right messages to the right people at the right time.

See the 2016 list of "Great Colleges to Work For"

Here are six ways that college leaders make their campuses a great place to work:

1. They listen to faculty and staff

Employee engagement is key to developing strong communication.  Faculty and staff need to know that their views are heard and respected, no matter their level of seniority. In the Great Colleges survey, 76% of respondents whose institutions made the survey's "Honor Roll" of high achievement said they "strongly agreed" or "agreed" with the statement "When I offer a new idea, I believe it will be fully considered."

2. They define everyone's role

Shared governance involves bringing all stakeholders together to make decisions that affect the entire institution. To do this effectively, all participants must understand their own roles and how they fit into the broader scheme.

Honor Roll institutions accomplish this particularly well, and tended to earn high marks on the survey statement, "Faculty, administration, and staff are meaningfully involved in institutional planning." About 80% of Honor Roll respondents also agreed that at their colleges, "the role of faculty in shared governance is clearly stated and publicized."

Strategies for cultivating a productive university shared governance model

3. They bridge the town-gown divide

Colleges are being encouraged to engage in their local communities more than ever before, says Boyer. Fostering a dialogue with community stakeholders helps colleges understand better understand their needs and collaborate with them more effectively.

4. They have an open-door policy

Transparency in higher education is a two-way street: colleges share information valuable to faculty and staff, and in return, employees share feedback that improves their institutions. More than 84% of institutions surveyed said their college has a newsletter, 72% have management office hours, and almost 63% have a formal system for submitting suggestions or feedback. In addition, almost 86% of respondents said their institution uses a regular survey to request feedback.

5. They're digitally savvy

A robust digital presence, including a comprehensive website and social media use, is critical for institutions to communicate with members of their community and develop their brand. Faculty and staff benefit from internal communication, while students and other community members can learn more about a college through external branding.

Social media is also becoming increasingly valuable. A survey this year of higher education employees by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education found that 90% of respondents said social media is much more important to their communications and marketing efforts than it was three years ago.

How to prepare for a social media mess

6. They have an emergency plan

In times of crisis, colleges must have a plan for distributing important information across campus quickly. Having a plan in place can make all the difference (Boyer, Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/18).


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