Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, higher education institutions have faced challenges on multiple fronts, including the need to keep campuses open and operational as learning shifts between on-site to remote. Amid these changes, the need to effectively manage the higher education workforce has remained constant. While faculty and administrators are focused on meeting student enrollment needs, higher education institutions must also manage staff across diverse functions, including campus safety, dining, maintenance and groundskeeping.
Against the backdrop of the current challenges facing higher education, TCP Software partnered with Higher Education Dive’s studioID to survey over 100 higher education professionals about their use of time-tracking technology during the pandemic.
Here are five key findings from the survey:
1. Many institutions were unprepared for the sudden shift to hybrid and remote work.
The majority (59 percent) of respondents in the survey said they were somewhat prepared, not very prepared, or not prepared at all for the time, attendance and scheduling implications of the pandemic. Those whose institutions had previously relied on time cards and manual timesheet calculations were the most unprepared and had to quickly pivot when the workforce went remote.
Conversely, those who were prepared had cloud-based time-tracking tools to manage a diverse and dispersed workforce. These solutions not only put all time and attendance information in one place, but also generate benefits such as automated calculations, fewer opportunities for error, and more consistent compliance with federal and state wage and hour laws.
As a TCP account executive noted in the report, “Having flexibility in how you track time and make schedules for institutions, departments and teams that have split on-site, offsite and hybrid roles helps institutions get the right people in the right places at the right times.”
2. WFM software has enabled a smooth transition to hybrid work.
Moving higher ed faculty and staff to hybrid or remote work schedules during the pandemic has been unavoidable. In fact, most higher ed administrators in the survey reported hybrid and virtual work as the two most explored time, attendance and scheduling options during the pandemic.
In utilizing these new work models, many discovered that they were not as difficult as they seemed before the pandemic. Of those who experienced issues, the most frequently reported were getting funding approval for new systems and deploying the right tech to manage different employee types, such as staff, faculty and hourly workers.
3. Time-tracking tech adds flexibility to workforce management.
Although some pandemic-related changes on college campuses are temporary, many will remain. The surveyed higher ed professionals whose institutions implemented new time, attendance and scheduling technology said the change would be permanent.
Many higher education institutions plan to continue using workforce management (WFM) software because of the flexibility it offers amid times of change. Whether staff work on-site or from home all or part of the time, workforce management technology streamlines the process of managing time and attendance and offers flexible ways to organize employee schedules in alignment with changing campus needs.
4. WFM solutions help higher education institutions improve productivity and efficiency.
When managing a workforce of individuals on different schedules across multiple locations, tracking productivity can become difficult. Time-tracking software is a powerful tool to help higher education institutions utilize employee time more efficiently and avoid processes that can result in wasted time and a drop in productivity.
Survey results revealed that the top benefit of workforce management software was its ability to improve efficiency and productivity. This benefit became even more pronounced after the start of the pandemic, as higher education professionals realized that technology played an invaluable role in determining which jobs could be performed virtually and which could not.
Another benefit noted by surveyed respondents was having access to a single source of truth for employee schedules. With individuals working full-time, part-time and variable schedules—sometimes across multiple campuses—an integrated platform can help you identify and avoid scheduling gaps, excessive overtime, and policy exceptions.
5. Higher education professionals face time, attendance and scheduling challenges.
The pandemic persists, and higher education professionals recognize that it will have a profound effect on the way they manage employees going forward. When asked to identify the most pressing challenges they anticipate in the next year, survey respondents pinpointed their top three:
Keeping higher ed faculty, staff and students safe will continue to be a top priority. To achieve this goal, higher education institutions can benefit from workforce management solutions that support better decision-making about which positions can be remote without sacrificing campus safety.
Employee Retention and Morale
Higher education professionals recognize the toll the pandemic and an uncertain future can have on staff. In particular, this uncertainty can cause absenteeism and turnover. A Fidelity Investments and The Chronicle of Higher Education study found that 55 percent of faculty at higher education institutions have seriously considered changing careers or retiring early during the pandemic.
Thankfully, workforce management technology doesn’t just track employee hours and help managers set schedules. It also empowers employees to see their hours, request and track their time off, and even swap shifts with coworkers. With this added autonomy, employees can feel more in control of their workday and thus more engaged.
Keeping track of employee time and attendance takes on another level of complexity in a remote environment, particularly because employees must record their hours and time off. As higher ed professionals seek to maintain employee productivity at on-site and remote work locations, they need to identify the best technology to fit their culture and workforce management goals.
Use WFM technology for better higher education workforce management.
The pandemic has shown higher education professionals the value of workforce management technology amid periods of change. Today’s automated tools and dashboard insights replace manual time tracking and provide a single source of truth about where and when employees are working.
More changes are likely coming, so higher education institutions must leverage modern workforce management technology to streamline employee time, attendance, and scheduling for greater efficiency and productivity. For more insights, read the TCP and Higher Education Dive report, How Time Tracking and Scheduling Bring Agility to Higher Ed.