Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

Separation: An Integral Aspect of the Staffing Process

Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

Separation: An Integral Aspect of the Staffing Process

Article excerpt

Until recently, the subject of staffing practices in higher education has received relatively little scholarly attention. The model proposed by Winston and Creamer (1997) that included essential components of recruitment and selection, orientation, supervision, staff development, and performance appraisal addressed this omission in the literature; however, it has a significant oversight--when staff leave their positions. Separation is proposed as a necessary component of their model to make it complete.

Winston and Creamer (1997) sought to achieve several goals in their groundbreaking work on staffing practices in student affairs. They sought to address a serious omission in the literature by providing a model for practice in higher education, and they wanted to provide a foundation for a new line of scholarly research in student affairs. The authors also wanted to demonstrate the vital link between the quality of personnel and the quality of programs and services provided. They argued that this connection is virtually self-evident and that the quality of the personnel of an institution is clearly and consequentially related to the quality of the staffing practices of the institution.

Other scholars, though largely from fields other than higher education, support these assertions of Winston and Creamer. Their work generally falls under the category of personnel management, and focuses on issues related to effective management and successful staff development (Bunker & Wijinberg, 1988; Campbell, Dunnett, Lawler, & Weick, 1970; Terry & Franklin, 1982). Yet, these works rarely attempt to integrate components or create an overall model of staffing practices.

The Winston and Creamer (1997) model focuses specifically on student affairs in higher education as a unique labor market. Their model is quite comprehensive and describes five essential components of sound staffing practices - recruitment and selection, orientation, supervision, staff development, and performance appraisal. Permeating their model is a principle that supposes dual beneficiaries of appropriate staffing practices - the individual and the institution. In each component of their five-stage model, careful attention is given to showing how both individual staff members and the institution profit from sound staffing practices. The model also demonstrates that the nurturing of staff members is a sound institutional investment that contributes directly to quality educational programs and services.

The Winston and Creamer (1997) model falls short, however, of explicitly acknowledging that people change jobs and leave them for a variety of reasons. When these changes occur, they have significant effects on the departing staff member, members of the unit who remain, the unit supervisor, and perhaps the student clientele as well. This aspect of staffing practices, referred to here as separation, should be incorporated into the other components if a truly comprehensive understanding of staffing practices is to be achieved.

This paper describes the separation component of staffing practices and argues that it should be included in any application of the Winston and Creamer staffing model. Specifically, it identifies general reasons why employees leave their positions, and discusses issues that can help supervisors recognize their responsibilities of helping staff and protecting the interest of the institution--all within the framework of synergistic supervision.

Types of Separation

The student affairs profession is unique in higher education because of the nature of the work that is done and the difficulty in fitting that work into traditional labor categories within the institution. Historically, student affairs professionals have been charged with the welfare and education of students outside of the classroom. The professionalization of student affairs work has occurred slowly over time, but institutions have begun to recognize the vital role of student affairs professionals in facilitating student learning outcomes and the development of the whole student (Creamer, Winston, & Miller, 2001). …

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