Better communication strategies can improve staff morale and retention
- All school districts face employee issues resulting from complaints, disagreement over new policies or simple misinformation, but some schools are finding new solutions through communicating and collaborating with staff to solve problems early, District Administration reports.
- Administrators in the Chandler Unified School District in Arizona provide a back-to-school video each year to go over basic information, while the administrators at Jefferson County Schools in West Virginia have formed a leadership team composed of six members from different departments to help seek more holistic solutions.
- Yassmin Lee, the executive director for talent acquisition and development in the Fort Worth (TX) Independent School District, says that employees respond best when they have one staff member to hear and address their concerns, while Liberty Public Schools in Missouri has set up “Team Liberty,” a cross-section of 22 staff and faculty members who work together to address employee issues.
In a recent survey, principals cited “teacher morale” as one of the top issues that cause them concern. Only school funding was a bigger issue. Teacher morale and other employee issues are important because they affect school climate, the effectiveness of teachers in the classroom, employee attendance rates and retention. Though it is easier for administrators to ignore employee issues or chalk them up to “personality conflicts,” it is important for these issues to be addressed before they escalate into larger concerns.
Richard Ingersoll, a former teacher and now an education professor in the University of Pennsylvania, has extensively researched teacher turnover. In an article in the Atlantic, Ingersoll said that the “way administration deals with both students and teachers has a ‘huge effect’ on teacher satisfaction.” Ingersoll says that improving how schools handle behavior issues is one of the best ways to keep teachers without offering large financial incentives.
“Those schools that do a far better job of managing and coping with and responding to student behavioral issues have far better teacher retention,” Ingersoll said. And, in both public and private schools, he says that “buildings in which teachers have more say—their voice counts—have distinctly better teacher retention.”
The District Administration article has one main theme: better communication with teachers and other employees. This is not just a matter of communicating with them, but listening to them as well. Schools that have programs in place that actively solicit teacher and employee input and communication are more likely to have satisfied employees.
- District Administration Strategies for resolving employee issues in K12