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Why Are You Still In Your Job?

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According to a recent American Psychological Association (APA) Workforce Retention Survey of more than 1,200 Americans with full-time and part-time jobs, "despite uncertainty in the job market, the top reasons working Americans say they stay with their current employers are work-life fit and enjoying what they do." Specifically:

• 59 percent of respondents noted that they remain with their current employer because of the pay;
• 60 percent of participants said that they stay in their job due to benefits;
• 67 percent of people believe their jobs fit well with the other aspects of their lives;
• 67 percent of those surveyed explained that they stay in their jobs because they enjoy the work they do;
• And 39 percent noted a lack of other job opportunities as the reason for remaining with their current employer.

While these findings appear encouraging, we have no way to know how employee performance impacts the numbers. If the 39 percent of respondents who cited a lack of other opportunities for staying with their current employer are the highest performing staff in an organization then "Houston, we have a problem". APA also compiled interesting statistics based on the gender and age of survey respondents. This information can be valuable for K-12 talent managers in designing programs to meet the needs of different staff demographics. How?

Imagine that you are the Chief of Human Resources for Monterey Falls Preparatory Academy (a district that I just made up). Based on a recent survey of staff, you know that:

• Twenty-five percent of staff, including many of the highest-performing educators in the building, are not satisfied with the professional learning opportunities available to Academy employees.
• The majority of staff, or approximately 60 percent, are generally satisfied with their employment situation;
• Fifteen percent of employees, including several of the lowest-performing educators at the Academy, desire higher salaries.

Some might argue that no major changes are necessary for staff at the Academy because the majority of those surveyed indicated that they are satisfied with their current employment situation. I believe the more important number is the 25 percent of largely high-performing staff who seek additional professional development programs. Effectively responding to their needs not only increases the chance that the best and brightest employees will stay at the Academy, but more learning opportunities will help educators at all levels improve their practice.

By digging deeper into APA's results, we can see how age impacts what workers want.
• Employees 18-34 years old were least likely to say enjoying the work (58 percent), work-life fit (61 percent) and benefits (54 percent) keep them on the job, but the most likely to endorse co-workers (57 percent) and managers (46 percent) as reasons to stay.
• More than two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents ages 35-44 cited pay as a reason for staying at an organization, higher than in any other age group.
• Working Americans age 55 and older were the most likely to cite enjoying the work (80 percent), work-life fit (76 percent), benefits (66 percent), feeling connected to the organization (63 percent) and having an opportunity to make a difference (57 percent) as reasons for staying with their current employers.

What does this data show us? There is no fix-all solution for engaging and retaining every group of employees. HR programs must be blended to fit the organization's culture and the needs of different staff subgroups. David W. Ballard, head of APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, says that, "To engage the workforce and remain competitive, it's no longer sufficient to focus solely on benefits. Today, top employers create an environment where employees feel connected to the organization and have a positive work experience that's part of a rich, fulfilling life."'

How is your district using staff feedback to shape HR programs and other organizational decisions?

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