Though recent data has improved, many school employees remain unhappy and stressed out (please ask any instructional aide, bus driver, or kitchen staff). Compared to the last 20 years, job satisfaction in schools is near an all-time low.
School leaders can change this tide, but you do have to show you care.
What is Employee Engagement?
First, let’s talk about what it’s not. Engaged doesn’t mean “happy.” Someone might be happy at work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are productive. Engaged doesn’t mean “satisfied.” Although being satisfied is a good start, it doesn't go far enough. A satisfied employee might be a good clock-watcher and more than willing to leave to take a job for an extra $1 per hour.
Engagement is the level of emotional commitment of an employee to the organization and its goals.
Engaged employees care deeply about their work, they care about the people they work with, and they aren’t just doing the job for the paycheck. They are willing to go the extra mile and use discretionary effort to make a difference.
An engaged teacher will schedule time to tutor a struggling student after school, even though their contract doesn’t require it. Engaged employees will stay, even when the going gets tough.
But how do you make staff feel engaged?
This is where school leaders need to step up and take some responsibility. The extent that employees feel engaged is primarily the result of their relationship with their boss and how they make them feel. Sure, there are factors outside of your control. Still, our research has proven that schools in rural and suburban settings have high levels of engagement, and others don't.
What’s different is the school leadership.
The good news is that you can improve engagement.
Focus on five areas:
Frequent two-way communication
Providing an understanding of your mission and goals
Offering opportunities to grow, develop, and learn new things
Recognition and being appreciated
Trust and confidence in the leadership
If you want something to improve, you need to measure it.
This is true for employee engagement too. Having a feeling about it doesn’t count. You need a number to quantify if your engagement efforts are working. This is where School Perceptions can help. Our research-based survey will quantify engagement, and our executive summary will quickly identify areas of strength and areas where additional work is needed.
Engagement surveys are an incredible investment in your workforce. The results provide valuable insight into everything from hiring to employee retention to how you compare to others. There has never been a better time to find out what your workforce is thinking. Reach out here.
The School Perceptions Blog and Resource Center features the voices of our team members. This post was written by Bill Foster, President & Founder.