The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Using Data and Empathy to Drive Decisions About COVID-19 Workforce Reductions


The higher ed workforce has been hit hard due to COVID-19-related causes. A recent article by The Chronicle of Higher Education shed light on the 650,000 higher ed jobs lost last year, and with potential budget reductions on the horizon, this number is sure to climb. While workforce reductions may be necessary for some institutions to stay afloat, higher ed leaders can employ strategies to handle them appropriately and with empathy. Here, we’ve highlighted how two chief HR officers are utilizing data and empathy to take action across several HR functions.

House Passes Equality Act


On February 25, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5, the Equality Act by a vote of 224 to 206. Three Republicans joined Democrats to pass the bill that would make employment discrimination and other forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity unlawful. The bill would amend existing civil rights laws to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics.

10 Creative Ways to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day During COVID-19

by Jill Thompson

Employee Appreciation Day is right around the corner (March 5). As the typical initiators of employee appreciation and recognition, HR offices are looking for creative ways to show appreciation for faculty and staff on tighter budgets and modified for the remote work environment. With the help of several ideas shared in a CUPA-HR Connect thread, we’ve gathered a list of creative ways to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day modified for your remote workforce. The list ranges from no-cost options to options that require a little more planning and investment, but are sure to be a hit among your employees.

New CUPA-HR Brief Finds Crucial Need for Succession Planning and Focus on Diversity for the Higher Ed Skilled Craft Workforce


The higher ed skilled craft workforce possesses the skills necessary to maintain and improve the physical facilities and infrastructure of college campuses. However, the aging of this workforce and the lack of younger workers to take the place of older employees as they retire puts institutions in a challenging position to attract new talent. So what can higher ed institutions do to build and diversify the pipeline for skilled craft positions? Read the full brief to learn about opportunities for growth in areas of diversity and equity and recommended next steps for institutions.

HR and the Courts


CUPA-HR General Counsel Ira Shepard highlights recent actions taken by the Biden administration to strike down the previous administration’s Executive Order (EO) on diversity training, a new EO calling on OSHA to determine the need to issue emergency temporary standards protecting workers from on-the-job COVID-19 infections, a ruling regarding hostile environment sexual harassment, and more.

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on DOL Secretary Nominee


On February 4, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to serve as the Secretary of Labor under the Biden administration. Walsh was nominated to serve as Secretary of Labor on January 7, 2021, beating out many other front runners for the nomination, including California Labor Secretary Julie Su, who has now been nominated to serve as Deputy Secretary of Labor. Here, we outline some of the important labor issues Mayor Walsh and Senators discussed during the hearing.

Boost Your Career by Establishing Meaningful Relationships With Other Higher Ed HR Professionals


As an HR professional on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, your relationships with other professionals can be a lifeline. These are people who can lend an ear when you need someone who understands the unique pressures of the work, provide answers to give you a leg up on a new project, and offer fresh perspectives on long-standing challenges. CUPA-HR membership opens the door to countless opportunities to connect with smart people who understand the unique challenges and successes HR professionals in higher education encounter every day. Learn more about how to get involved with CUPA-HR.

Strategies to Become More Resilient in Work and Life


The time and energy it takes to lead and move multiple projects forward at our institutions and get things done on our personal checklists takes a toll on higher ed HR pros, and at times can leave us in a low place. When we reach this point, we need helpful nudges to get us back on track. This ability to rally — or be resilient — is a skill that we can all learn. Maureen De Armond, associate vice president of human resources at Oregon Institute of Technology, shared in a recent CUPA-HR webinar several steps HR pros can take to become more resilient and better withstand and grow from hardship.

How COVID-19 Has Impacted Faculty Retirement Patterns — Highlights From the 2020 Higher Education Financial Wellness Survey


Even before the pandemic, faculty retirement patterns have been top of mind for colleges and universities for planning for the future. According to the 2020 Higher Education Wellness Survey conducted by TIAA Institute and CUPA-HR, the economic consequences of COVID-19 have altered the expected retirement age for more than one-third of full-time faculty age 50 or older. Although this trend can be concerning for institutions, encouraging faculty to use phased retirement programs can help ease the transition, as can encouraging them to seek financial advice on planning and saving for retirement from a professional advisor.