In the Oct. 13 issue of The Franklin, Dan Schluge, vice president of finance and interim human resources director, said he was unable to comment on the departure of more than 20 employees in the last year. A number of former employees voiced their opinions under The Franklin’s article on Facebook.
“A lot of the people that I used to work with were all kind of messaging one another and talking about it,” said Travis Gabehart, former admissions counselor. “I can see where some people were kind of upset. Kind of the way it came out from Dan Schluge, it sounded like [the college wasn’t] really appreciative.”
Gabehart, who left Franklin this September after about a year at the school, was one of the former employees who took to Face- book to express his input on the turnover. He said he didn’t take Schluge’s comments in the story personally.
“I mean, it’s a business,” he said. “I definitely see why some people were offended by it. For me, I left on my own terms.”
Tamara Hoffmann, former coordinator of campus visits, said she left the college after being told by Kate Coffman, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid, that she and President Thomas Minar decided to “eliminate” Hoffmann’s position “to restructure the office.” That position is currently filled by Hannah Abraham, according to MyFC.
“[I] was very hurt at first, then realized it was a blessing in disguise,” Hoffmann said.
While Hoffmann agrees with Schluge’s comment in the Oct. 13 story on the need for competitive salaries, she said she is still upset by his comment that the turnover didn’t make an impact.
“[It] is the same as saying that our jobs didn’t matter,” Hoffmann said.
Coffman said she understands why there was reaction toward the story, but she does not feel Schluge meant what he said in the story.
In the Oct. 13 story, Schluge said, “Turnover is normal in any setting. The college is not concerned by it.” Coffman echoed this statement, saying she does not believe turnover has a direct impact on students or enrollment because the college tries to minimize the effect as much as possible.
“I think that anytime there is turnover, we obviously have to work to gain that institutional knowledge back,” Coffman said. “But I think, in general, it doesn’t have a direct impact on students.”
President Thomas Minar acknowledged the costs that turnover creates for the college in a statement.
“Some of the costs are realized in recruiting and training new employees,” Minar said. “The opportunities gained include allowing the college to hire employees who bring skill sets and career experiences that are new to Franklin, generating renewed energy and fresh ideas on campus.”
Minar said the college has many staff retention efforts, including “strong benefits, professional development opportunities and a great working environment in a wonderful community.”
In response to The Franklin’s tweet previewing the Oct. 13 story, alumnus Cody Warren said turnover costs organizations 1.5x the annual salary of the employee who turns over.
“Turnover is never ‘normal’ and should always be a concern,” he said in the tweet.
A January article from The Huffington Post supports Warren’s statement.
“Slightly more conservatively, [Human Resources Professional] Josh Bersin of Deloitte believes the cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5–2.0x the employee’s annual salary,” the article reads.
“These costs include hiring, onboarding, training, ramp time to peak productivity, the loss of engagement from others due to high turnover, higher business error rates, and general culture impacts. Employees, Bersin explains, are appreciating assets that produce more and more value to the organization over time, which helps explain why losing them is so costly.”
Coffman said each time an employee leaves the college, college officials decide whether the position must be filled immediately and what the potential impact is on students.
Nine of the admissions office’s 20 employees left this past year, but every spot has since been replaced. Coffman said the reasons behind leaving the admissions office could simply include a change in heart about the work required.
“I think historically admissions is a high turnover field,” Coffman said. “People tend to think it’s going to be one thing—meeting with families and sharing with them a love they have for the college—and it actually turns out to be a lot of data, a lot of sales. It tends to be a lot of untraditional hours. A lot of evenings, a lot of weekends.”
Gabehart, who now works as an admissions counselor at Transylvania University, said he left to pursue a master’s degree to eventually move up the ladder.
He noticed that Franklin College looks “outside” for hiring rather than promoting within. While it doesn’t bother him, he said he wanted to look elsewhere where he could find help in advancing his education while working as an admissions counselor.
“One thing [Transylvania does] offer is providing almost full assistance with my master’s degree that I can start pursuing here in about a year or so,” Gabehart said. “I was looking to get my master’s and looking to have them help pay for it, which Franklin didn’t have anything like that.”
Coffman said it’s not uncommon for people who enjoy working in admissions to do exactly what Gabehart did and change schools in order to advance their degree.
“There’s not always a lot of opportunity to move in one particular office,” Coffman said.
She said she believes every person who voiced their concerns on Facebook added value to the college when they worked here, which is why she was disheartened to hear about it, knowing the impact they had on students with whom they interacted.
“I appreciate, and I think the rest of the campus appreciates what they did when they were employees here,” Coffman said. “But I also think those things will continue under the new staff.”
Dan Schluge was “not available” to participate in this story, Director of Communications Deidra Baumgardner said.