The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/0888-045X.htm RETURNS AND INVESTMENTS Salaries and managingMoving on: salaries and managing turnover turnover 187 Terry Cottrell University of St Francis, Joliet, Illinois, USA Received 1 July 2011AbstractPurpose – The purpose of this paper is to reveal particular unique aspects of librarian pay, retentionand hiring issues as a means of advocacy for managers searching for new ways to tackle this functionof their work.Design/methodology/approach – The paper gives speciﬁc salary negotiation suggestions, andalso provides strategic team building concerns on which future planning may be made.Findings – It is found that salary information is shared much more often between librarians at otherinstitutions and this sharing leads to many negative and positive effects for future pay structureswithin organizations.Originality/value – The paper is original in the sense that it is written for librarians andnon-librarians alike. It presents the issue with candor as a means of sparking fruitful conversationaimed at stabilizing and increasing librarian pay through joint understanding of the issue.Keywords Salary, Pay, Negotiation, Turnover, Management, Stafﬁng, Employees, LibrariansPaper type ViewpointThe importance of salaryThe library world is small indeed. When an employee moves from one position toanother within the same general geographic region, many librarians know of thechange in job status. A certain amount of history about the departing person’s previousemployment also enters the cultural ethos among professionals whenever a new, yetexperienced, librarian begins a new role nearby. Many upper-level administrators andleaders who control funding for libraries know nothing of this dynamic. Theseadministrators also do not know that librarians keep their own employment networksoutside of HigherEdJobs.com, The Chronicle of Higher Education, or simple want adsplaced in the Chicago Tribune. Libraries are everywhere; and, librarians tend to befriendly and collaborative with each other. This collaboration leads to mass levels ofcommunication, and this communication can have positive and negative impacts onthe recruiting and retention of talent. Because most librarians in the US are publicemployees and their pay is public knowledge, and because libraries cannot survivewithout collaboration, librarians tend to know what each other is paid. The need tocollaborate, has forced librarians to operate as a large family where some membersmight not know which members make six ﬁgures or more, but everyone knows who isfairly-compensated and who is struggling for to get respect from their portion of the The Bottom Line: Managing Librarysalary budget. Finances Vol. 24 No. 3, 2011 When a librarian takes advantage of the numerous volunteer opportunities within pp. 187-191 q Emerald Group Publishing Limitedthe many associations and special interest groups devoted to literacy, sharing of 0888-045Xinformation and open access what they are also doing is supplementing their career DOI 10.1108/08880451111186044
BL potential. Exposing themselves to the greater job market hungry for talent gives24,3 librarians all they need to move laterally and up the ranks at other institutions. This library world is ﬁlled with people who share strategies for service delivery, tips and tricks for managing ﬁnances, and also a hidden understanding of the ﬁnancial circumstances of different institutions. In short, assumed secret ﬁnancial information regarding hourly pay rates and yearly salaries are sometimes not so secret in the188 library world at all. In this time of economic restructuring, a key reason why a librarian leaves their current position is salary. Some managers believe salary is not as important of a motivating factor for retaining employees as a friendly organizational culture or supportive knowledge sharing and collegiality. This belief is a fallacy if the current pay rates too far below market. General job happiness, the potential for new learning experiences, salary, rank, promotion and fringe beneﬁts are all important points on which to focus if maximum retention is desired (Schuster et al., 1971; McLeana et al., 1996; Tzeng, 2002). Rather than focusing on trying to predict which one of the aforementioned factors is the best determinant of keeping an employee, library managers are best served to always be aware that all factors are important. Individual conversation (either structured through performance reviews or unstructured over coffee) with employees will dictate which factor is truly a priority on a case-by-case basis. There is one simple fact in all employment situations: salary is what provides the means by which all employees tend to base many aspects of their lives around their work. It is the “bread and butter” of the employment agreement, and it is commonly the reason why defecting employees divulge certain pieces of sensitive ﬁnancial information from their old employer to their new colleagues as soon as they arrive at a new place of work. Phrases like, “I was only making X at that library,” or “They were not paying enough” can be heard in the lunchrooms and even at open staff meetings. For the library left searching for a new replacement staff member, this sort of water cooler chatter at other libraries is murderous for recruitment. It leaves the empty-handed managers left with a very limited set of hiring options within the local talent pool of experience. This talent is deﬁnitely worth paying for, but will be closed off in most cases until pay issues are resolved and the resulting zeitgeist on the issue of pay related to the institution in question becomes more positive. Like a spreading virus When a library staff member departs because of pay, the conceptual framework of compensation becomes central to all who were in contact with that person. Remaining employees will contact friends, peers and relatives to compare salary information regardless of conﬁdentiality agreements signed or implied by home institutions. It can be found that peers truly vie both publicly and privately for information regarding compensation for their labors (Machiavelli, 1532). For managers, the idea that salaries may be too low or inadequate when compared to the general marketplace can initially cause more need for damage control than assistance in correcting the problem. If a librarian leaves for a different career altogether outside of libraries, this can send a shockwave throughout the library community that the profession itself is less valued and subject to budget cuts and de-prioritization. Good employees commonly
come to have a high sense of ownership and pride toward the work they perform. Salaries andLibrarians are like many other professions in the sense that they are most sensitive to managingthat which they most honor as their professional calling (Machiavelli, 1532). Mostlibrarians do not desire to leave the library world. If they do ﬁnd that they cannot turnoversubsist on the pay they receive as a librarian, they will seek employment elsewhere andstill want for some sort of connection to libraries. A unique situation can be found when a full-time staff person leaves for a different 189position outside of libraries, but desires to remain in their current library on a part-timebasis. As a warning: The concern here is that problems with low pay can lead to ageneral feeling of disgruntled self-worth on the part of this particular employee. It isunderstood that disgruntled employees are commonly recognized by other staff. Evenif the ex-library employee is happy with their newly found position and subsequenthigher pay rate, their discontent with their former full-time employer may notdissipate. Retaining an employee like this is akin to a manager understanding that aproblem exists, and erroneously deciding not to take any action whatsoever to ﬁndresolution mistakenly for the sake of other employees and the institution. It is notimpossible that a new job and higher pay for a person leaving the profession will notallay anger toward the previous employer, but remembering that angst can still residewithin this speciﬁc employee is advised. Furthermore, if pay for the newly vacatedposition is adjusted upward after the employee has moved to part-time status, evenmore resentment could occur.Arguing for more: why librarians deserve itArguing for more salary dollars is tricky. For many public libraries, convincing aboard of trustees to match librarian pay rates with those of local public school teachersis an excellent strategy that can be especially effective if there are current or retiredteachers on the board. For academic libraries, particularly at private institutions, vyingfor more of a cut of the institutional salary pool involves conversations that can beintimidating for librarians. At many institutions of higher learning, however, thefollowing is true: . The library is open to students, faculty and staff more hours than any other department on campus besides security and/or campus police. . The library’s common mission is to be available and accessible by providing an essential seven-day per week service function that bleeds into student retention, university prestige and the fundamental knowledge output of the constituents the institution. . If students are looking for professional assistance after the common business hours of 9-5 p.m., the library is the primary place to go. . Many students study after 5 p.m. on traditional college campuses. The library that is the singular evening hub for instruction and knowledge sharing between the college and/or university and the student. . Many non-traditional students study via web tools and resources, the library is the ﬁrst stop for many of these services as well.Each of the ﬁve truths mentioned previously is a springboard on which an argumentfor more pay can begin or ﬁnd its capstone. If the aforementioned truths are not enough
BL to substantiate adequate pay for librarians, another aspect to explore is team building.24,3 Low pay for librarians means that there will be more difﬁculties in recruiting new librarians eager to take an employment offer. There will also be more difﬁculties in keeping a cohesive team together due to new librarians becoming experienced at a low-paying institution and then moving on taking their skills and experience with them. If it is the job of the library manager and director is to build a cohesive team, low190 pay stymies this effort, if not destroys it altogether. A further danger here is that low-paying libraries become catalysts for the sentiment that the parent institution is also a low-paying institution by rote. This stigma may cause other departments to suffer recruitment woes as well. If this occurs, the ability for other department directors to create a cohesive team atmosphere in their own areas where employees are excited about the institution, and buy into its mission and vision, is also hindered. This is where library pay becomes part of a larger comprehensive dedication to valuing employees as a whole for the sake of preserving an atmosphere with “familiar” faces that are eager to take on new projects and forge new services for the future. Solutions for library managers The simple solution is to simply bring librarian salaries up. Convincing the people high up the chain of command to do this swiftly and quickly is the struggle. One avenue to explore involves communicating to accreditation committees and external reviewers that without a seasoned cohesive team in the library, students, faculty and administrators will not maximize the potential beneﬁts gained by mastering the essential services librarians provide. Adding to this argument is a further explanation that any potential for long-term collaboration that beneﬁts students and university constituents is threatened directly if librarians cannot be retained due to low pay. What about fresh ideas and perspectives brought by new staff? Libraries do beneﬁt from new perspectives brought by new employees. Acknowledging this is important. Encouraging the understanding, however, that these new perspectives can also be brought to the institution by long-term staff via professional development opportunities is equally as important, because of the shared beneﬁts gained through employee loyalty. Loyalty born from compensation as an acknowledgment of services rendered is a powerful tool for the generation of new innovations. Library mangers and their supervisors do not beneﬁt from new librarians every two years as much as much they beneﬁt from librarians that believe in their institution and stay with it. Institutions reap enormous beneﬁts from employees that feel like they are part of the family more than just employees using an organization as a springboard to work at other institutions (Van House, 1987). Finally, library managers can express that they are professionally conﬁdent that dollars spent to manage turnover, and retrain and rehire staff will be better spent if dedication to employees is made manifest. Retaining librarians who can build great instructional tools for students, forge strong relationships with faculty, genuinely commit to future research projects, engagingly participate in committees without prodding, and realize the vision of institution are worth every penny.
References Salaries andMcLeana, E., Smits, S. and Tanner, J. (1996), “The importance of salary on job and career managing attitudes of information systems professionals”, Information & Management, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 291-9. turnoverMachiavelli, N. (1532), The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, available at: http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option¼com_staticxt&staticﬁle¼show.php%3 Ftitle¼1866 191Schuster, J., Clark, B. and Rogers, M. (1971), “Testing portions of the Porter and Lawler model regarding the motivational role of pay”, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 55 No. 3, pp. 187-95.Tzeng, H.-M. (2002), “The inﬂuence of nurses’ working motivation and job satisfaction on intention to quit: an empirical investigation in Taiwan”, International Journal of Nursing Studies, Vol. 39 No. 8, pp. 867-78.Van House, N. (1987), “Labor market segmentation and librarian salaries”, The Librarian Quarterly, Vol. 57 No. 2, pp. 171-89.Corresponding authorTerry Cottrell can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.orgTo purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: email@example.comOr visit our web site for further details: www.emeraldinsight.com/reprints