Finding and Retaining Qualified IR Analysts

Ask eAIR invites questions from AIR members about the work of institutional research, careers in the field, and other broad topics that resonate with a large cross-section of readers. If you are interested in writing an eAIR article, or have an interesting topic, please contact eAIR@airweb.org.

This month’s question is answered by Leslie Gindro, Dean of Institutional Research, Regis College.

ask-eAIR-v1.pngThe ideas, opinions, and perspectives expressed are those of the authors, and not necessarily of AIR. Subscribers are invited to join the discussion by commenting at the end of the article.

Dear Leslie: We have some difficulty finding and retaining qualified and gifted analysts in our IR office. What are some tips for professional development and working conditions that would result in better long-term employment stability in this key position?

I feel your pain. The loss of a key member of a smoothly functioning IR office can be a real challenge. While we never want to stifle the professional and career development of our colleagues, we do want to consider the benefits of keeping well-qualified and experienced employees contentedly in place whenever possible.

  • First, ask if this is a recurring situation in your department. A long-time employee who leaves to make an upward mobility move may not be a sign of concern, but rather a compliment to the professional development provided by your office. If you experience more frequent turnover, there may be some local conditions that are making it difficult for your analysts to stay with you.

  • Second, while pay isn’t the only thing, it is one of the necessary things. How long has it been since you had a good look at your peer schools and aspirational schools for pay scale comparisons? Are your vacation and benefits up to the market?

    Other Considerations

    • Remember to offer public acknowledgement of an employee’s contributions. We are successful because they are.
    • Have occasional goofy fun in the office, even when things are stacked eye-high on the to-do list.
    • Remember work-life balance as much as possible.


     

  • Third, do you have sufficient support for professional development? Many places are experiencing economic stress and going to more of a “free webinars/local workshops” model. While this is a viable shift in the short term, in the longer term it may be helpful to send key employees to a larger regional or national event every few years. There are two reasons for this:

    1. There is the obvious currency and innovative idea shopping that happens at these larger events. The vendors are there in greater numbers, and there is a nice expectation-setting function that keeps us all reaching for improvement upon our return.

    2. It’s fun! Even if you only do one larger event every few years, it is important to confer with colleagues over a meal, realize we have similar concerns based in larger external drivers, gain some new ideas, and feel rewarded for being a valuable member of the unit.

I would bet that our astute colleagues have additional suggestions. What makes you get up and go into work every morning? Let us know in the comments section, below:

 

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