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Improving the Employee Experience in Higher Education

By Bradley Beecher August 20, 2019

Although higher education institutions are moving towards one-stop centers and unified platforms for helping students, what about the employee experience for faculty, staff, and administrators?

Faculty and staff welcome students to their institutions, they are advisors and mentors, and they are key to their students’ ongoing success, which is critical for students and ultimately their institution, local community, and society. In my experiences working with hundreds of universities across the world, faculty and staff are some of the most committed employees to their jobs as they educate the next generation of students, conduct research, and provide service to their communities. Providing a great employee experience inspires employees to bring more energy to their jobs. Harvard Business Review found that “one inspired employee can produce as much as 2.25 satisfied employees.” Our inspired employees is where we really see impact, and its those inspired employees that will make meaningful contributions to student and institutional success.

Higher ed team discussion

A Concierge Experience for Faculty, Staff, and Student Workers

Salesforce can help create an inspired employee experience on campus. Salesforce provides a better employee experience for employees to access benefits, update their personal information, address questions they may have for human resources, request help from IT or facilities, and access important information from their college or university.

A more seamless or “concierge experience” provides employees with knowledge bases, the ability to open tickets or cases, and to access help across channels such as email, phone, SMS, live chat, and chatbots. From an employee’s mobile phone or desktop computer, they can access help resources 24/7. This creates a 360 degree view of your employee, similarly to how the Education Cloud also creates a 360 degree view of your prospective students, current students, and alumni. In addition to improving the employee experience, knowledge bases, chatbots, and having everything in one place helps you better engage with your faculty, staff, and student workers. Let’s take a look at some examples of how Salesforce is used to improve the higher education employee experience.

Getting up to speed

On-Boarding New Employees

Beginning a career in postsecondary education is exciting, and employees have various reasons for working at a college or university. Often, the mission of their institution is what attracted them to work in higher education. The opportunity to conduct research in one’s field or to teach provides rewarding career opportunities. Or working with students to help them change their lives is incredibly gratifying. While it is a great experience working at a university, universities are complex organizations to navigate, especially if you are a new employee.

Example knowledge articles in Education Cloud
Example knowledge articles in Education Cloud

There is a lot of paperwork to sign, benefits to understand, and training to take. Even before a new employee’s first day, they have to navigate and make sense of a lot of information, regulations, and benefits. Salesforce can help guide the on-boarding process for new employees and scale the impact of the human resources department by automating communications to the employee through Marketing Cloud and Community Cloud.

New employees can have an authenticated community where they can see checklists of what they need to do next, upload paperwork, and most importantly access resources to address questions they have about their future employment. Higher education human resources departments are supporting multi-generational workforces who all communicate differently. Within multi-generational workforces, Baby Boomers may prefer to call with a question, whereas a Gen Xer may prefer to use email, and a Millennial may prefer to engage via text message. Regardless of the channel of communications, if a new employee has not completed a step towards their employment, an automated communication can be sent to remind them of what they need to do next on a communications channel the employee engages on to smooth out their on-boarding process.

Mobile views of groups for self-service community and support in Education Cloud.
Mobile views of groups for self-service community and support in Education Cloud.

Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment for benefits can be a challenging time for human resources departments to address informational questions coming in from employees, and for employees who are trying to make sense of their benefits. Using a combination of self-service resources such as a knowledge base, frequently asked questions, and chatbots, employees can learn about new and existing benefits. The power of automating communications to employees based on their actions or inaction will ensure that they complete their steps in the process prior to the end of the open enrollment period. Automating communications such as what the employee needs to do next or how long they have to make decisions scales the impact of human resources departments.

Human Capital Management Systems Modernization

Many universities are modernizing their Human Capital Management Systems (HCMSs) and these modernization processes can be highly beneficial for university human resource departments. These are enterprise level modernization efforts given its impact on a higher education institution. With any change comes uncertainty and questions. Salesforce’s case management capabilities through Service Cloud provides employees with a venue to ask questions and have them addressed by human resources staff through the implementation and ongoing operations of a new HCMS. Maybe an employee was used to signing up for benefits in the old system, but does not know how to enroll for their benefits in the new HCMS. Service Cloud provides transparency for employees to see the status of current cases and outcomes from previously closed cases.

    “Service Cloud has revolutionized our ability to use data and analytics to better understand all aspects of our operations.”
    – Gabriela Garcia Largen, Director, HR Solution Center, University of Virginia

Increase Productivity Across Departments

There are many times when someone in a department needs a service completed from another department. Through the same concierge experience where employees can ask questions of human resources, they could make requests of other departments. Salesforce will route the requests to the right department.

Let’s say, for example, a VIP is coming to campus to meet with the President or Chancellor’s Office. Staff in the President or Chancellor’s Office wants to ensure that this VIP’s experience on campus is very positive, and their experience begins before they step foot on campus. Through the concierge, staff in the President’s Office can request a parking pass for the VIP and this time rather than this sort of request going to human resources, it would route to the parking office. Staff in the President’s Office can then see who is working on their request and its status to ensure that when the VIP arrives on campus, they have their parking pass and a positive experience.

Employee Training with MyTrailhead

We have a fun way to learn about Salesforce and hundreds of other topics for anyone who is interested in learning about how to be an administrator, developer, business analyst, marketer, and many other roles: it is called Trailhead. It is free to use, give it a try if you have not used it before. Along the way you will earn badges that show your progress in Trailhead. Any time I need to come up to speed on what’s new with Salesforce and learn about our technologies, I go to Trailhead to learn and grow my skills.

We have taken the same methodologies used in Trailhead and created MyTrailhead for our customers to personalize the training experience for their employees. With MyTrailhead, human resources departments can create branded training with their own content to on-board and further train their employees, as well as track employee progress through the training.

For higher education human resources departments seeking to change how they engage with their employees, there are many options for doing so with Salesforce. The concierge experience provides employees with one location to get their questions answered, learn more about their university human resource’s policies and benefits, and to improve employee satisfaction so that they can focus on the mission of their institution.

For further resources, see how the University of Virginia implemented Education Cloud to improve the employee experience, then join this webinar on September 5. In the webinar, you’ll discover how to create a compelling campus experience for faculty and staff, increase emotional connection at work, and more.


About the Author
Brad BeecherBrad Beecher, Ed.D, has worked in the higher education sector for more than 20 years, and has a doctorate in education with a focus on higher education administration. His research focuses on the internationalization of higher education, global education, and student success. He worked for a university as a staff member in a new department that operated as a start-up organization. This incredible experience sparked his passion for higher education. Brad has also worked for organizations that focused on serving technology needs for universities, as he does currently for