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Employee Morale

There has been a rash of major embezzlement cases cropping up like a pox at institutions of higher learning all around the country. While employee theft occurs daily at all types of organizations, we have tracked a disproportionate number of significant misappropriations at U.S. colleges and universities. The damage, while significant, is not only financial. Institutional reputation, alumni relations, endowment growth, employee productivity, and even enrollment, can all be negatively affected by a major defalcation.

It doesn’t get greener than planting trees, and thanks to the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA program, colleges and universities are being recognized for their dedication to the most literal translation of going green.

Remember the first day you came to work? For some people, first days are overwhelming—with new rules, processes, and software programs to learn, new coworkers to meet, and myriad choices to make, from which health plan to choose to the amount of taxes you want deducted.

Universities are often in a unique position when it comes to managing their pharmacy benefits. Those associated with medical schools, hospital, and clinics often have affiliated pharmacies and access to staff with clinical pharmacy expertise. If an institution can fully leverage these in-house capabilities, it can have a dramatic effect on its overall pharmacy benefit budget. How to best leverage these capabilities should be considered when HR administrators selects a pharmacy benefit management (PBM) partner.

On March 24, 2010, the day after President Obama signed sweeping health care reform legislation into law, Robert T. Kakuk's phone didn't stop ringing.

Employees were eager to add their adult children under the age of 26 back on to their health insurance policy, one provision of the Affordable Care Act, explains Kakuk, director of total compensation and human resources information systems at Western Michigan University, which supports approximately 2,800 benefits-eligible employees.

When listening to employees talk about their jobs, school officials may hear questions, concerns, and even fears about health care insurance. How much more will I have to contribute this year for premiums? Can I afford it? Will my coverage shrink? While the spotlight is on health care, not much is being said about trends regarding employee voluntary benefits, such as vision, supplemental life insurance, and long-term disability.

With furloughs, layoffs, and slashed budgets becoming a "business as usual" occurrence in higher education, professional development is taking a hard blow. In some cases, it has been dramatically cut or eliminated for the foreseeable future. Yet, even in these trying times, a few proactive leaders have found new tools and creative tactics to keep people learning and growing. They are energizing their teams and raising morale with minimal expense.

Steep budget cuts. Skyrocketing health care costs. Layoffs. Furlough programs. As if that wasn't enough to deal with, colleges and universities around the country are facing a new challenge: how to reduce the frustration, dissatisfaction, or even anger felt by employees who haven't received a pay raise in several years.

The financial pressures on institutions and the scrutiny on spending continue. But campus administrative offices also continue to find new ways to change their practices for the better.

As the stories of our Summer 2010 Models of Efficiency honorees demonstrate, there are a multitude of good ideas being implemented that streamline processes without reducing the quality of service that campus constituents deserve, and in many cases expect.

We thought at first it was the bounce book authors get when the timing is right for their titles, in our case, Turnaround: Leading Stressed Colleges and Universities to Excellence, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009).

Yet, we sensed a micro-trend among small, religious institutions looking for everlasting spiritual redemption and long-term economic viability. Indeed, well beyond viability, this new breed of contemporary Christian colleges have intentionally developed new revenue streams—providing financial replenishment for faith-based, liberal arts residential campuses.

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