April 25, 2019 | 56° F

U. needs to invest in employee happiness

For 15 years, Rutgers has been my home. We all have our personal struggles, but I’m not going to talk about those, because we all do have them. What I’m here to tell you is how poor Rutgers’ image has become among those that work here.

I find it ironic that Rutgers wants to be nationally recognized not only as an institution of higher education, but one of superior excellence, along with the recent achievement of becoming a Big Ten school. However, its staff and faculty are not being lifted to those levels as well. This University has become a business: A corporation where academia and research have taken second seat to the generation of revenue. Over the course of the 15 years that I’ve been here, I’ve seen the tide of the University ebbing and the flow receding more and more. This used to be an exemplary institution, one that I was proud to work for. I still have my school pride, but my faith and benevolence in the inner workings of this institution have severely waned — I’m left to wonder, does my presence here even matter?

I’ve seen many offices become a revolving door to poorly paid well-qualified employees and unqualified, highly paid employees. This process has become extremely inefficient. The well-qualified individuals have virtually no incentive to stay, and leave after a short time due to the poor wages. The highly paid individuals end up being let go because of there is no output, since they were not qualified for their jobs to begin with. After this merry-go-round, there are two open positions to fill and train again and again. It is not only shameful to mismanage time and energy to continually train new hires for the same jobs over and over, but it is also a waste of money that could be put to much better use in keeping qualified employees.

I come from the research office, and, to put it simply, happiness makes people more productive at work, according to the latest research from the University of Warwick. Economists carried out a number of experiments to test the idea that happy employees work harder. Professor Andrew Oswald found that “companies like Google have invested more in employee support, and employee satisfaction has risen as a result." For Google, satisfaction rose by 37 percent. There’s plenty of hard evidence that shows that happy employees lead directly to better performances and higher profits. Last year, revenues increased by an average of 22.2 percent for the 2014 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For, as quoted by Forbes. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these same companies added new employees at a rate that was five times higher than the national average.

In other words, it pays to invest in your people. It also happens to be the right thing to do: Our requests are not unreasonable.

Nicole J. Nicholas is a research contracts and grant specialist with the Rutgers Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Nicole J. Nicholas

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