Press Release

November 17, 2021

New Research Shows Offering Remote Work Options Can Help Higher Ed Employers Retain Their Workforce

New research conducted by CUPA-HR and EDUCAUSE on higher ed IT and higher ed HR employees found that workers are experiencing a misalignment between their actual work arrangements and their preferred work arrangements and that this misalignment is related to the likelihood that they will seek other employment.

About one-third (36%) of respondents reported total alignment (a score of 0) between their preferred and actual work arrangements. That leaves nearly two-thirds of respondents reporting some degree of misalignment between preferred and actual work arrangements. The greatest percentage of misalignment cases (51%) occur with just one or two degrees of misalignment in the direction of employees preferring more remote work options than what their current work arrangement allows.

The research also found that nearly half (43 percent) of the HR and IT employees surveyed are at least somewhat likely to look for other employment in the next year, and that misalignment of preferred and actual work arrangements is positively correlated with the likelihood of seeking other employment. In other words, when employees prefer more remote work opportunities than what they actually get, they are more likely to seek other employment.

The data also show that when comparing leaders and non-leaders in the higher ed HR and IT areas, there are higher numbers of non-leadership staff who are both looking for other employment and desiring of more remote work opportunities. Thus, leaders who desire to improve retention in their staff may want to gauge whether they can provide more flexible work arrangements for them.

“Over the past 18 months, many higher ed employees have seen a shift in where and how they work — and most want to see flexible work continue,” says Jacqueline Bichsel, co-author of the report and director of research at CUPA-HR. “As we begin to emerge from the pandemic and colleges and universities ponder what their workforce will look like moving forward, they would be well-served to continue offering remote and flexible work options as part of their recruitment and retention efforts.”

Read the full research report, Providing Remote Work Opportunities Will Aid Your Retention Efforts.


CUPA-HR is the recognized authority on compensation surveys for higher education, with its salary surveys designed by higher ed HR professionals for higher ed HR professionals and other campus leaders. This marks CUPA-HR’s 24th year of data collection on higher education professionals. Learn more about CUPA-HR research.

CUPA-HR is higher ed HR. We serve higher education by providing the knowledge, resources, advocacy and connections to achieve organizational and workforce excellence. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, and serving more than 33,000 HR professionals and other campus leaders at nearly 2,000 member institutions and organizations around the country and abroad, the association offers learning and professional development programs, higher education salary and benefits data, extensive online resources and just-in-time regulatory and legislative information.

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Missy Kline
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