NDUS state staff Senate looking at morale issues on the campuses

Oct 6, 2017

The president of the North Dakota University System’s state staff Senate is concerned about employee morale in the 11 colleges and universities.

"Morale has been really down," said Bismarck State College employee Retha Mattern. "It's been that way ever since budget allotments and budget cuts started happening to our campuses."

Matter said the system has lost a lot of people – due to reduction in force, buyouts and early retirements. She said that affects those who are left.

"We're all working harder," Mattern said. "We're working more hours. We have more responsibilities. We're juggling more without being compensated any extra."

There will be no general raises for the next two years. Mattern said with that reality,  it makes it harder to retain staff.

"When staff start looking at other options outside the University System, they're seeing the benefits offered by private employers are getting better and better," Mattern said. "The pay has always been better."

Mattern said that means the system is losing some really good people.

"It leaves a really big hole," Mattern said.

And she said the people who are left are getting burned out. So, she's talking to the Board of Higher Education and the college presidents about the situation.

"I want to work with them to identify what we can do together to show we do value and support the staff in the System office and throughout the institutions," Mattern said.

Mattern said board members and the college presidents were very interested. She said it could be more recognition by management, or some flexibility in work hours.

"We still operate in the mindset of, 'Be at your desk at 8, don't leave until 5 and take exactly 15 minute breaks throughout the day,' Mattern said. "Maybe we can recognize that we're working off the clock, from home, and checking our e-mails late into the night."

Matter said the conversation will continue.