Is Understaffing the New EdTech Normal?

Are you and your colleagues stretched too thin?

December 3, 2015

This fall I’ve been having lots of discussions with colleagues across a diverse set of institutions.

These conversations often end up at the same place.

Everyone seems to be worried about understaffing.

Everyone says that nowadays it is normal for 2 people to do jobs that normally took 3 people to accomplish.

Everyone says that the amount of work has grown much faster than headcount.

Everyone says that demands are higher than ever before, but budgets for hiring full-time permanent professionals have never been tighter.

Is this the reality that you live in?  Is your departments too thinly staffed for the work that you need to do?

Are your people working amazingly hard and efficiently to compensate for the lack of depth and redundancy in your staffing levels?

My sense is that the commitment to offer world-class service in edtech groups is stronger than ever, and that mostly groups are succeeding.  They are doing so, however, by some really heroic efforts by teams that are running at their maximum of efficiency and productivity.

Is understaffing endemic in higher education technology?  What about other professions at colleges and universities?

Is the story here that schools are reluctant to make any staffing additions, as nobody wants to be in a position down the road to lay someone off?

We all know that higher ed budgets are vulnerable to the twin whims of legislators and stock markets.  Costs are increasingly faster than revenues, and hiring is the first casualty of flat and shrinking budgets.

Higher ed tends to think of staff as costs, not assets, and this is reflected in how we think about hiring.

What are the costs of running so lean with our edtech (and other department) staffing?

Are we worried about burning people out?

Are we worried that folks will not be able to spend time in preparing for what is coming next, as everyone is too busy managing the daily onslaught of tasks?

Are we worried about the resiliency and redundancy of our units?

Is edtech (and other department) understaffing the new higher ed normal?



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