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Employee Review of Duke University - Check out more reviews of working at Duke University

3.3Rating Details
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth3
Work Environment3

From Durham, North Carolina — 04/02/2009

Pay - I have to agree with the other folks who have commented here that Duke's salary is typically 15-20% less than peers for equivalent education and experience within professional staff positions. I can't speak to the faculty positions. For positions that don't require a great deal of education, skills or experience, Duke pays better than average. (They have instituted a minimum wage of $10/hr for full time employees.) Most positions don't have a bonus structure tied to them. The retirement matching contributions - 403(b)- are some of the most generous I've seen.

Respect - Working at Duke is fairly well respected among peer institutions and other employers. Within Duke respect is a mixed bag, although it is a core value of the institution. A few of the faculty members think a lot of themselves, but that seems fairly isolated. And there is a sense of job entitlement (tenure?) among some of the employee groups that fosters some resentment. (See co-worker competence.)

Benefits - Are generally excellent and comparable/ better than peer institutions. Plenty of vacation/ sick time. See the HR website for details.

Job security - You'd just about have to kill someone to get fired once you've finished the probationary period. Reduction in work force is handled through resignations, transfers, and hiring freezes. The down economy has the University looking at how to overcome the operating income shortfall. Perhaps this will result in lay-offs. The downside to the job security is how it affects co-worker competence.

Work/Life Balance - Generally good, but some departments work a lot harder than others. Whatever the department, highly competent employees are rewarded with more work (because they get things done) while less competent employees put in "40" and go home.

Career Potential/ Growth: Depends on where you are at. Some departments are relatively flat organizational structures with little room for advancement. Other areas have lots of growth potential for a hard-worker with the right education and experience. Education is prized over experience. Some folks get their positions because of their academic background, not their managerial/ administrative skills. There is also a tendency to bring in higher level management from peer institutions rather than promote competent people from within. It's easier in some departments to get ahead by leaving.

Location: Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh is a great place to live and work.

Co-worker competence: In almost every department there is some "dead wood." These employees liked the benefits and location so much and they didn't mind the lower pay enough to leave for greener pastures. The dead wood may start off as productive, but soon the truth dawns on them: The performance evaluation system doesn't reward the hard workers appreciably more than the average workers, so why work hard? ("40 and go." - Even if salaried.) If the job isn't getting done, the boss passes the work to the competent and motivated staff who haven't figured things out yet or have too much of a work ethic/ idealism to change. (The main reward for working hard is more work.) A similar situation is at work within the unionized areas as well. Hard-working newbies are greeted by wizened wood that eventually brings the performance of many to the lowest common denominator. "There really isn't 'pay for performance,' so why break your back?" The job security - a result of almost paranoid aversion to bad headlines and bad town/gown relations, diffuse and inconsistent implementation of HR policies, and poor supervisory/ management training - assures that the dead wood sticks around until they are either unwilling or unable to continue working.

Work environment - The campus is wonderful, but the other things can make working at Duke a roller coaster. Love/ hate. Love/ hate.
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