Salary report: P&S employee retention a concern

The turnover rate for professional and scientific employees at Iowa State is higher than David Trainor would prefer. Trainor, associate vice president for human resource services, discussed the turnover rate and other data from the 2013 Professional and Scientific Annual Salary Report during an Oct. 4 open forum.

Turnover rate

Trainor said that from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012, 243 P&S staff left Iowa State. Of those, 90 (37 percent) accepted other jobs, 44 (18.1 percent) left for personal reasons and 43 (17.7 percent) had term or temporary appointments. Fifteen individuals retired or entered phased retirement, and a few others were dismissed, laid off, left with a partner/spouse, went on long-term disability or died.

The overall P&S turnover rate was 9.6 percent, including retirements. Excluding retirements, the turnover rate was 8.25 percent.

"I think that's a little high -- meaning, I think it's a little too high," Trainor said to a group of about 50 P&S employees. "We should have a more favorable turnover rate, probably closer to the fiscal 2009 number of 7.3 percent."

Trainor added that the Bureau of Labor and Statistics says that the average turnover rate across the nation for FY12 was 16.7 percent.

"But Iowa State is a great university, we're not average," he said.

An in-depth look

A complete look at the FY13 P&S Salary Report (PDF) is available on the HRS website.

New hires leaving too quickly

Of the 243 P&S employees who left the university during FY12, 68 had been employed less than one year; 27 less than two years. Of all the staff who left, 65.4 percent had five years of service or less.  Even when term appointments were excluded from the numbers, 25 percent of the P&S employees who left were at Iowa State less than a year.

"That's a concern to me," Trainor said. "That means there's something going on. We should not be losing that number of people."

During the question-and-answer session at the end of the open forum, an employee asked Trainor if employees give detailed reasons for leaving. Trainor replied that it's difficult to conduct effective exit interviews because of the outdated technology currently in place. He added that sometimes employees are gone before HRS has a chance to contact them.

"We have process issues to work out," he said. "I haven't been overly satisfied with the level of data that we're able to generate, but we want to get there."

Other interesting data

Trainor highlighted other statistics about P&S employees, such as:

  • Most P&S employees fall into the 30 to 35 pay grade levels
  • More P&S employees are female than male, especially in the entry level pay grades
  • Minorities account for 10 percent of P&S employees in all pay grades except level 41, which is 30 percent minority

Other HRS projects in the works

In addition to the P&S salary report, Trainor provided a brief update on other HRS initiatives, including:

Comprehensive employee wellness program

  • HRS recently hired a consultant to develop a wellness plan
  • An assessment of the university's current wellness facilities and programs is taking place now through November
  • Employees will have an opportunity to offer input through focus groups
  • The goal is to create one of the best comprehensive university employee wellness programs in the nation

Upgrade of hiring software

  • An upgrade is under way of HRS' hiring software, PeopleAdmin, which should be complete in 24 to 30 weeks
  • Following the upgrade, the hiring process should be more efficient and user friendly