Navigating Hybrid Work Policies in HigherEd

Using data to make decisions about remote and hybrid work at the University of Memphis

Hiring and employee retention are two of the top challenges facing HigherEd institutions today. At PeopleAdmin, we’ve been discussing some of the factors that are making hiring and retention tough for colleges and universities, as well as some ways to take action. At our recent webinar, Navigating HigherEd Hiring and Retention, listeners heard from HigherEd insiders including Daniel Linton, Associate Director of Functional Online Solutions at University of Memphis, who shared his perspective on navigating hiring and retention. Read on below for some key takeaways from this webinar!

Remote and hybrid work can be a roadblock

In a poll at the start of the webinar, three quarters of attendees shared that less than 50% of employees on their campuses were able to work in a remote or hybrid style. More than a quarter said that less than 24% of their campus could work remotely or hybridly. This is in opposition to the nearly 83% of US workers who no longer want to work in an office full-time, and many companies are offering these opportunities, making roles in higher education less desirable.

Look at the numbers

At the University of Memphis, Daniel Linton and his team experienced this firsthand. In 2018, UM received 15,400 applications for staff roles. Then, the pandemic hit and work norms shifted—and in 2022, UM received only 5,900 applications. From that greatly reduced pool of applicants, Linton and his team had to hire for more staff positions than ever this past year—and they recognized they needed to do something different. To start, they took a look at their current remote work policies.

“For as long as I’ve worked at the university, we’ve had a teleworking policy for individual employees to flex or make up hours—but it probably only got used five times a year. When COVID hit and every employee wanted to take advantage of the policy, we realized we needed to make it more robust,” said Linton.

Clarity for applicants and for current employees

The University of Memphis dove in by partnering with PeopleAdmin to design a survey that went out to every supervisor on campus to determine the remote work policies for the roles they oversaw. The survey covered:

  • Does the role require face-to face interaction with the public?
  • If it does, does the position have control over when that interaction happens?
  • Can the duties of that position be performed to the same quality in a remote or hybrid fashion?

Using the survey answers, supervisors noted whether a role could be expected to be remote, hybrid, or fully on campus. Now, Linton’s team is in the process of adding these designations to the job descriptions for every role across campus, so current employees as well as applicants will have full clarity on the expectations for their positions.

Leverage data to build strategy

To get administrators on board with this initiative, Linton and his team took advantage of the data they found—the drop in applications was so significant that it couldn’t be ignored by leadership. Using tools like PeopleAdmin’s ATS and Unified Insights, teams across campus can have access to the data they need to make strategic decisions and get buy-in from leadership.


Learn more!!

Watch our recent webinar for more tips about hybrid and remote work, as well as key insights about reconsidering your brand and the applicant experience.