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4 Challenges Educational Institutions Face (and 4 Ways HR Tech Addresses Them)

In a December 2023 updated report, Ernst & Young (EY) found the average cost per manual data entry made by an HR professional increased to $4.78. Read about EY’s latest findings for more information.


It’s tough out there for educational institutions. With hybrid and remote learning, many classrooms are changing shape. Learning disruptions spurred by the pandemic make it harder for schools to capture students’ attention. At the same time, the teacher talent pool is drying up.

According to Pew Research Center, colleges and universities are awarding nearly 20% fewer education degrees than two decades ago. Fewer instructors entering the field means more responsibility is placed on the shoulders of those who stay. Employees were already an educational institution’s most valuable asset; now, they’re priceless.

Exceptional teachers can hardly be expected to stay when the digital tools they use actively hold them back. The education industry is no stranger to technology. In fact, it became vital for thousands of schools in the last two years alone. In fall 2020, roughly 3 in 4 undergraduates were enrolled in at least one distance learning course, and almost half (44%) took remote classes exclusively, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.


Tech use in education isn’t just about connecting students to their material. Just like a well-rounded curriculum, tech is multidisciplinary. It’s indispensable for students and teachers.

Take HR tech, for example. Educators who don’t have to deal with tracking down benefits info or making sure their payroll’s correct can focus on:

  • delivering engaging lessons
  • honing their craft
  • addressing students’ needs
  • developing more topical courses

In other words, using HR tech to build a greater employee experience for teachers translates to a better learning experience for students. To understand how HR tech supports educational institutions, it’s important to examine the industry’s obstacles.

What challenges do educational institutions face?

There’s a lot for education to address, and a state university won’t have the same issues as a small charter school. Still, there are challenges that every institution shares.

Talent shortages

The smaller number of undergraduates receiving education degrees limits the number of traditionally qualified candidates. Having fewer candidates forces education recruiters to be more patient and thorough in their efforts. Unfortunately, the pressure for schools to find instructors is constant. NPR reveals this issue is so detrimental to special education, certain states are lowering the requirements for undertrained applicants.


Effective administration is crucial for any educational institution. Hard-to-use technology already makes it tough for teachers to focus, but it also complicates an administrator’s compliance burden. In fact, most schools depend on the consistency and accuracy of their HR processes for ongoing financial support.

“Our chartering authority wants to know everything under the sun. We have to provide so much data and prepare for regular audits. Our livelihood depends on being compliant,” said the chief HR officer of an educational nonprofit.

Dwindling attention

It doesn’t matter if it’s for students, teachers or other staff: Engagement fuels a school’s success. But the competition for our collective focus is fierce. Research from Technical University of Denmark shows our attention spans are shrinking from high exposure to:

  • apps
  • books
  • social media
  • web searches
  • and more

Classrooms aren’t the same as they were decades ago. Between tech-savvier youth and fewer qualified applicants, the stakes are high for educators to deliver engaging, insightful and imaginative courses.

Shifting responsibilities

Given the talent shortage, those who remain in education have to do more. A sharp increase in distance learning also means instructors have to be primed for more than just teaching. According to EHL Insights, to facilitate learning, institutions need to prioritize soft skills such as:

  • communication
  • collaboration
  • creativity
  • complex problem-solving
  • emotional intelligence

Tomorrow’s classroom will demand not just teachers, but educational leaders.

How does the right HR tech help educational institutions overcome challenges?

Easy-to-use HR tools help schools and their faculty tackle issues relevant to every institution. It’s even better when everything they need is in a single app. Here are a just a few ways the right HR tech helps:

Recruitment and retention

What if educational institutions could take the burden out of generating job openings and posting them to the right career site? A versatile applicant tracking tool takes care of the tedious parts of recruitment. Instead, educational hiring managers can invest time in finding the perfect candidate to foster the next generation of students. And once the ideal candidate is found, powerful background check software helps quickly and thoroughly reinforce a decision.

Securing the best educator is great, but don’t slow them down with a lackluster new-hire experience. With the right onboarding tech, new employees can complete necessary documents and training materials before Day 1. After they enter their data, it should be simple to access again anytime, anywhere.

91% said when an employee's payroll is incorrect, it breaks their trust in an employer, according to an October 2021 survey of HR, accounting and payroll professionals conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Paycom.

Finally, it goes without saying educators teach because they care. But they also need to live. In a OnePoll survey commissioned by Paycom, 91% of HR professionals agree when payroll is incorrect, it breaks employees’ trust in their employer. Educators already have a huge responsibility. An employee-driven payroll experience gives them peace of mind by guiding them to find and fix problems before submission.

Streamlining HR processes

Costly manual processes are painful for any organization. Ernst & Young places the average estimated cost of a single manual data entry task at $4.70. For educational institutions, however, outdated systems risk their compliance. Self-service HR tech puts employees’ data where it belongs: in their hands.

For example, when educators use employee-driven payroll, they ensure their check is right before it requires retroactive and costly corrections. If they do catch an error, the tech guides them to resolve it or contact the right person to help.

In turn, HR professionals spend less time entering and reentering their faculty and staff’s information and eliminate the chance for mistakes. Pair this with a comprehensive compliance tool and administrators have an indispensable resource to:

  • generate reports
  • respond to audits
  • easily access a single system of record
  • stay updated on federal and state legislation

Ease of use

Educators understand the convenience of easy-to-use tech; they likely use it every day in their personal lives. There’s no reason the same can’t be true for the tools they use at work.

The chief HR officer mentioned earlier found the right tech gives their educational nonprofit a competitive edge.

“We want people to know we’re innovative and creative,” they said. “Some schools are a bit older and more archaic. Paycom’s easy-to-use app helps position us as an employer of choice.”

From addressing complex scheduling needs to employee questions, the right HR tech helps educators find and receive the answers they need.

Professional development

Great instructors are lifelong learners, too. A powerful learning management software empowers educators to continue their growth. With full control of their own development journey, teachers have the means to:

  • cultivate key soft skills
  • set and track goals
  • stay on top of compliance training
  • complete required certifications

Education helps ensure the world’s future. Shouldn’t the people who facilitate it be supported and protected?

Explore Paycom’s easy-to-use app to see how it helps educators do what they do best. And read this case study to learn how an education nonprofit used Paycom to make an impact in their community.


DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.