Skip to main content
Pepperdine | Community

The Great Reshuffle

Supervisor Checklist for Navigating the Great Reshuffle

While employees resign for many reasons, research studies, industry surveys, and national experts agree on three main reasons: burnout, uncompetitive salaries, and lack of growth opportunities. During this time, employees are more able to freely choose their employer; they will not settle for mediocre workplace cultures, poor supervisor relationships, or total compensation packages that do not meet their needs — and if this is their experience at Pepperdine, we should not expect them to stay.

Just as we prepare students for meaningful and abundant life, faculty and staff are called to model and live this life. During a time marked by busyness and weariness, please engage your team members and consider what their Pepperdine experience is day-in and day-out. Ultimately, no one has more power to influence this experience than you — the supervisor. How is every aspect of your employees’ lives better specifically because they work at Pepperdine?

Because there are multiple reasons driving employee resignations, we must approach retention with several strategies, keeping our eye on the holistic employee experience. Below is a checklist of practical and immediate actions you can take to engage, satisfy, and retain your team members, as well as hire new top talent. Human Resources looks forward to partnering with you to retain our best and brightest employees and ensure Pepperdine remains an employer of choice. Thank you for your continued leadership, and please let us know how we can support you in the days ahead.

  • Identify your team’s most valuable work. Employee workloads continually increase due to new compliance regulations, additional programs and services, and a larger constituency base. To continue adding work without removing work is unsustainable. Critically review your team’s scope of work and determine with your supervisor’s guidance what your team should keep doing, stop doing, and start doing. Consider utilizing Human Resources’ Shaping Future Growth materials as a framework to assess your team’s work.

  • Gain process efficiencies. Review departmental processes to streamline tasks and relieve employees of unnecessary burdens. Ask employees what tasks require a significant amount of time or are frustrating. Determine if there are opportunities to automate processes by leveraging technology or to achieve the same end through better means.

  • Prioritize work. The pandemic has created additional duties for many teams and has disrupted familiar processes. Combining this with increased turnover, weariness can quickly set in. It may be that, for a season, teams are not able to complete all of their typical duties in the same timeframe. Identify what work is most urgent and important, as well as what duties can be completed at a later time. 

  • Address employee workload imbalances. It’s easy to entrust your high-performing employees with more tasks, but an unreasonable amount of work compared to their peers will ultimately cause them to seek new opportunities. Address poor performance on the team and hold all employees accountable to the expected levels of performance.

  • Reward top performers, not those who only work hard. By rewarding employees who work long hours, we can unintentionally create an unhealthy culture that perpetuates a cycle of burnout. Ensure you reward employees who achieve results by working smartly and who prioritize work/life integration. Intentionally reward the behavior and performance you wish to reinforce.

  • Consider temporary staffing solutions. Hiring a temporary staff member while you recruit for a full-time replacement can help keep the department operational and prevent unnecessary burnout from employees carrying a larger workload. Human Resources recruits and trains a team of Strategic Project Associates who are able to assist departments with short-term assignments, along with maintaining a temporary talent pool and a list of external temporary agencies to assist supervisors with short-term staffing needs.

  • Prioritize employee well-being. Pepperdine’s mission calls us to meaningful and abundant life; as such, we expect employees to be balanced in their personal, professional, and spiritual lives. While some seasons may be busier than others, “the new normal” cannot sustainably remain at a frenetic pace. Employees who work at Pepperdine should enjoy healthy work/life integration and model the transformation we teach our students. Limit after-hours email communications, encourage your employees to take their accrued vacation time, and ensure they take time for their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

  • Know the ways Pepperdine ensures competitive pay. The University continues to ensure our employees are paid competitively, even if, as a non-profit organization, we may not pay what the for-profit industry pays. Human Resources has engaged a University-wide benchmarking assessment with global compensation consultants, and the results will be shared with the Steering Committee in early May.

  • Promote total compensation. Employee compensation is not limited to an annual salary. Remind your employees of the totality of their compensation and how Pepperdine offers many benefits that positively affect employees’ financial well-being. Additionally, because the best hours of our lives are spent at work, the community, work environment, mission-driven meaning, and everyday experience are also a large part of employees’ total compensation package.

  • Tell the story of Pepperdine’s proactive commitment to employees. In the early and uncertain days of the pandemic, employees were understandably concerned about job security. The University responded by assuring our community of how much we valued them by ensuring there were no domestic layoffs or furloughs due to COVID-19. A year into this experience, employees were concerned the pandemic would not only change how we did things, but who we are as an employer. Again, the University responded by relaxing temporary expense optimization measures, restoring retirement matching contributions, passing on no increases to employees for medical benefits costs, and providing a 2% merit pool. As the first semester back on-ground drew to a wearying close, the University surprised the employees by providing additional holidays, encouraging the use of vacation, and issuing a $750 bonus.

  • Draw meaning to your employees’ daily work. Many of us know why Pepperdine is such a special place, though we need to occasionally be reminded of the big picture of our work when we are mired in details. Especially during times that are hectic, a sense of meaning and purpose can infuse energy to the task at hand. Whether your employees work in a field, at a desk, or in a lab, remind them of their work’s legacy. Consider the life-changing education Pepperdine provides students, the kind of world Pepperdine models through our shared life together, or the communities around the globe transformed by our alumni. In an age where employees are moving organizations to find meaningful work, Pepperdine can bring a sense of purpose to the lives of many seekers.

  • Recognize and appreciate your team. Good work is happening across the University, and employees should feel recognized and honored for their contributions and service. Not only does recognition motivate employees, but it is the right thing to do to express gratitude to those who give the best hours of their lives in service of Pepperdine and its mission. Many effective recognition strategies do not cost any money but do require intentionality. Schedule time to recognize your team for their specific contributions with a thank you note, coffee and donuts for the office, or other ways that make your employees feel appreciated. Should budgets allow, consider a one-time bonus for work that truly goes above and beyond.

  • Acknowledge employees’ challenges without enabling unhealthy perspectives. As supervisors, we are responsible for both supporting employees facing challenges and maintaining team morale. Manage the positive energy in team settings without letting individual issues taint other employees’ experiences and perspectives. Let employees know the appropriate time and manner to air grievances and discuss issues with the spirit of hope, identifying solutions and not simply complaining. Consider how your own perspectives shape your communication and determine what messages, based on your works, actions, and outlook, your team hears from you. 

  • Identify your area’s critical talent. Pepperdine expects all employees to have a positive work experience and seeks to retain all high-performing employees who support the University’s mission. In a time of heightened turnover, identify the key employees you must prioritize retaining.

  • Engage your critical talent to increase satisfaction and retention. Part of retaining employees is engaging them; conversations in and of themselves can be motivating because employees feel like their supervisors care about them. Ask your employees what is working well and what can be better related to their everyday work; ask about their strengths and interests; ask what professional goals they have; discuss opportunities you see for them to expand their responsibilities and leadership skills; share the difference they make in the department.

  • Encourage career growth. Benchmarking and data trends show employees are not largely leaving organizations for more money, but are leaving for growth opportunities. We want Pepperdine’s best and brightest employees to continue to grow their career, expand their leadership responsibilities, and contribute to the mission in new ways. Supervisors have the opportunity and responsibility to support the career growth of employees, either through advancement to an elevated position (within or outside your department), or an expansion of their current role and responsibilities. Support qualified employees in applying for new roles at the University.

  • Advertise your open position. In addition to, Human Resources posts all open positions on at no cost to you. Human Resources also partners with a third-party advertising agency to offer you strategic job advertisements at discounted rates. Please contact Human Resources for a current list of quotes.

  • Do not settle in your candidate search. Pepperdine will only ever be as good as the people working toward its mission each day; as such, hiring is one of the most important and lasting decisions we make. Working at our University is a privilege and we seek candidates who have both the requisite skillset and a deep desire to further the Pepperdine mission and enterprise. Please continue to utilize the On-Boarding Kit for hiring best practices, and ensure you do not rush the recruitment process. Take advantage of the short-term staffing solutions mentioned above and consider carefully the distribution of work to allow ample time to thoroughly vet candidates and find the right fit.

  • Highlight total compensation. Share with your applicants the significant difference between annual salary and total compensation, as described above. Draw applicants’ attention to the University’s generous retirement program, choice healthcare coverage, tuition remission, campus facilities, and more — all of which help differentiate Pepperdine as an employer of choice.