Five ways technology can help humanize contingent faculty hiring

Blog, Recruitment | 08 January 2019

Like any other industry, Higher Education institutions look to a contingent labor-force to complement their full-time or tenure-track faculty and administrative staff. In the US this cohort is often referred to as adjunct or contingent faculty, and can also make up the ‘casual’ count of an institution’s talent. The issues surrounding adjunct hires, their pay, and the knock-on effects of stretched and inexperienced resources on student outcomes are a hot topic. Even though they are vital players in the higher education landscape, adjunct professors are nonetheless often subject to unstable, gruelling working arrangements. Here’s where technology can help to humanize the way institutions interact with all talent.

Did you know that as of 2016 data, only 52 percent of faculty staff in the US are full time? Here are some ways to make sure the contingent talent that make up the other 48 percent are looked after:

1. Treat your adjunct and casual staff like any other talent pool

Provide early engagement and keep your adjunct talent pool warm by sending regular communications leading up to the start of semester. Make a commitment to commence the hiring and credential verification early. That way, new entrants to your contingent faculty pool are appropriately vetted for their teaching abilities, and you can identify areas where learning materials and orientation could help to bridge gaps. It’s also a great idea to proactively search your existing pool to make sure you’re re-engaging past hires, particularly those who have demonstrated great teaching outcomes. Technology helps to facilitate at-scale the attraction, selection, and relationship management needed to directly engage with your talent pool.

2. Have an adjunct to full-time process with yearly targets for conversion

An online process and policy for adjunct conversion can make it very clear that your institution is committed to providing your contingent faculty pool with clear opportunities for job security. By setting targets to convert a certain percentage of your contingent faculty pool to more secure positions you are sending the right signals to the academic community. You’re also reinforcing a commitment to treat this cohort as an important part of the talent required to achieve great student outcomes. Technology helps to monitor the success of these programs by embedding the process in a step-by-step workflow.

3. Ensure adjunct staff with great student outcomes are appropriately rewarded

Track the number of engagements, contract extensions, and student grades/ feedback to ensure that your best performers are rewarded and part of your talent pipeline for full-time engagements. Centralizing the tracking of adjunct contracts and pay rates with a system that provides robust reporting can help to rationalize contingent faculty pay against tenure-track salaries. One of the biggest complaints about contingent faculty work is that the pay is miles below that of full-time faculty. Being able to report the actual reality and incremental improvements here can go a long way to making sure your contingent talent are recognized for the important work that they perform.

4. Manage your contingent faculty through a digital process

Reducing the paperwork required to engage contingent faculty, both from the administrative and faculty hirer perspective can help to reduce frustration experienced by both parties. Sometimes the admin work can be just as time intensive as the actual jobs they perform, particularly for adjunct hires. Having to fill out piles of manual paperwork to get paid for a few hours work doesn’t value the individual’s time. Technology can differentiate your institution from others by reducing the pain of paperwork experienced in the adjunct hiring process.

5. Provide the same learning courses for your tenure-track staff in your contingent faculty onboarding

Any tools, content, or materials that your institution has that can help with teaching standards, and enrichment of your adjunct talent’s ability to engage students is worth resharing, or repackaging for that cohort. This could be provided during onboarding and orientation programs, or through your learning management system. Technology can help to make sure that content is appropriately segregated and delivered so that there is a clear distinction between your full-time and contingent faculty.

How PageUp helps:

  • Job listings specifically catered to adjunct and casual positions
  • Management of background checking, assessments, and tracking of any necessary accreditations
  • Expression of Interest campaigns to attract talent throughout the year
  • Rich communication to this cohort using our Talent Relationship Management technology
  • Maintain a searchable database of contingent faculty talent
  • Raise as a separate job type with separate requisition forms and field types for contract details
  • Separate offer type with differentiated field types and contract calculator
  • Contract extensions allow people managers to manage their engagements
  • Delivery of learning content and mandatory courses for compliance through our onboarding and learning modules
  • Tracking of compliance and time-sensitive training modules like Security and Information Awareness, OH&S, Diversity Training etc.
  • Reporting, end date reminders and certification expiry tracking

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