Building a Better Workplace: The Role of HR in K-12 Employee Experience

Is your school district at risk of losing its valuable educators? 

According to a recent survey, a staggering 65% of educators have been actively browsing other job opportunities in the past year. In normal times, district leadership would find that unsettling. During an unprecedented teacher shortage? 

Downright nerve-racking.

Employee expectations are on the rise. Workforce expectations shifted dramatically, and now employees want more from their employers. In a post-pandemic world, more people are asking for:

  • Higher pay,
  • More flexibility, and
  • A positive workplace culture.

And yet, schools are constrained by contracted salaries, limited funding for perks, and zero flexibility when it comes to the time and place of work. With these limitations and soaring student behavioral issues, teachers feel drained and overwrought, all significant contributors to a toxic workplace.

So what can be done to meet rising employee expectations? 

The solution is simple: Improve the employee experience.

3 Ways HR Can Improve the Teacher-Employee Experience

Many people still believe that employee experience is all about perks, but it's much more than that. It's about communication, culture, being heard, and being supported professionally and personally. Improving the employee experience will increase: 

  • A sense of value and importance
  • Engagement in the classroom
  • Teacher and support staff retention 

These things aren't only on the minds of employees. Teacher recruitment, staff well-being, and retention are top priorities for K-12 human resources professionals. The Director of Human Resources is integral to the functioning of the school district. They can be one of the most influential in improving the employee experience by helping leaders shift from a transactional to a human-first approach.

Here are three ways that the Director of HR can improve employee experience:

  1. Build trust and respect
  2. Prioritize employee recognition
  3. Provide opportunities for growth

Build Trust and Respect Through Meaningful Communication 

Communication is vital to building trust and respect in the workplace. HR has an essential role in creating a welcoming and inclusive work environment. The Director of HR can facilitate relationship-building with employees by engaging in personalized employee experience conversations.

These conversations can help HR:

  • Understand what motivates their employees,
  • Discover ways to support them, and
  • Increase teacher engagement.

An intentional plan for how the conversation will proceed will make the discussion productive. For example, HR could initiate the conversation by acknowledging the employee's contributions to the school district. This discussion can be followed by exploring the employee's interests in professional growth. Finally, the Director of HR can collaborate with the employee on a plan to support them with necessary resources and follow-up conversations.

Meaningful, transparent communication will build trust and respect between staff and central administration. In turn, fostering a culture of trust and respect will positively impact the overall school environment.

Prioritize Employee Recognition To Encourage Engagement 

An engaged workforce is more likely to be:

  • Motivated and productive,
  • Energized to learn new skills, and 
  • Eager to deliver a positive learning experience. 

But how do you boost engagement when teachers have never been more exhausted? The answer is prioritizing employee recognition. Recognizing staff members' contributions and hard work can help them feel valued and motivated to strive for excellence.

Though well-intentioned, recognition must be more than just an all-staff email appreciation or an assembly shout-out. It needs to be timely, specific, and authentic. 

Teachers and school staff frequently work outside contracted hours and support their students by attending games, concerts, musicals, and other extracurricular activities. In-person or handwritten acknowledgments of these efforts are highly effective. Writing a personalized thank-you note or showing gratitude in person can go a long way in boosting morale.

San Diego Unified School District created a successful employee recognition program, a platform that allows teachers to receive awards from their peers, administrators, and even parents. This strategy allowed them to promote a culture of appreciation and recognition that benefited both employees and the district.

Recognizing and acknowledging the contributions of staff members will help prevent burnout. It can also increase their motivation to continue going above and beyond for their students.

Provide Opportunities for Growth By Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning 

87% of millennials rate "professional or career growth and development opportunities" as important to them in a job. And yet, more than half of districts do not provide or offer teachers coursework to improve their teaching. A Director of HR that prioritizes opportunities for professional growth will have a more profound impact on employee experience. 

HR directors can provide professional development support by offering opportunities for ongoing learning, such as:

  • Workshops,
  • Conferences, and
  • Online training modules.

In addition to offering training opportunities, the HR Director can provide instructional coaching to help teachers improve their teaching techniques and classroom management skills. An example can be pairing teachers with experienced mentors who can offer feedback, guidance, and support. Coaching programs can be delivered through professional learning communities, where teachers can collaborate with peers and learn from others' experiences.

Schools can also look to other districts for inspiration on how they provide professional development programs. The Los Angeles Unified School District provides teachers with access to resources such as workshops, seminars, and online courses that help them stay up-to-date on best practices in teaching. This district also offers mentorship opportunities with experienced educators who can guide them in improving their teaching skills. By providing these resources, LAUSD has fostered an environment of growth and learning for its teachers.

HR directors can also encourage staff growth by creating a culture of continuous improvement and upskilling. By fostering an environment where educators feel comfortable taking risks and trying new strategies, HR directors can promote a growth mindset that encourages staff to improve their skills and knowledge continually.

Leveraging K-12 ERP Software for School District Growth and Development

A staggering 87% of millennials rate "professional or career growth and development opportunities" as essential in a job. However, over half of school districts do not offer teachers the opportunity to enhance their teaching skills through professional coursework. An HR Director who prioritizes professional growth using ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems can significantly impact the employee experience and the overall efficiency of the school district.

ERP systems, like the school ERP platform, consolidate disparate systems into one, providing accurate information and increasing efficiency. These software solutions are developed with the unique needs of the education sector in mind. They manage various aspects of school districts including human resources, payroll, finance, and accounting, among others.

HR directors can leverage this software to provide growth opportunities such as workshops, conferences, and online training modules. For instance, new hires can be efficiently onboarded and guided through multiple positions within the organization using the ERP system. This not only helps in recruiting and retaining the best employees but also ensures compliance with changing requirements in the public sector.

In addition to offering training opportunities, ERP systems can be used to manage coaching programs where teachers are paired with mentors having extensive experience. These mentors can offer feedback, guidance, and support to help improve teaching techniques and classroom management skills. The process can be further enriched through professional learning communities within the ERP platform, allowing teachers to collaborate, share experiences, and learn from each other.

Looking to other school districts for inspiration can also be beneficial. For example, the Los Angeles Unified School District leverages its ERP software to provide teachers with resources such as workshops, seminars, and online courses. This district also offers mentorship opportunities with experienced educators, fostering an environment of continuous learning and growth.

Furthermore, HR directors can utilize the data security features of ERP systems to protect sensitive employee and student information, ensuring trust and compliance within the school district.

Finally, by creating a culture of continuous improvement and upskilling, HR directors can promote a growth mindset. Leveraging the ERP system's capabilities, they can foster an environment where educators feel comfortable taking risks, trying new strategies, and continually improving their skills and knowledge. This approach not only benefits individual teachers but also contributes to the overall success and future of the school district.

Elevating Employee Experience in K-12 Schools with Strategic ERP Solutions

In the realm of education, it's crucial that employees, particularly educators, feel their input is valued and implemented. When school district leaders merely 'talk the talk' without 'walking the walk,' it becomes palpable to the staff.

Demonstrating a commitment to enhancing the employee experience involves:

  • Establishing transparent communication channels
  • Actively soliciting employee feedback through surveys and direct questioning
  • Implementing actionable measures based on this feedback.

To truly cultivate a positive employee experience within an organization, leveraging modern technology like an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is vital. These systems harness the power of data to unlock invaluable insights into employees' unique needs, preferences, and performance, particularly through the Human Resources module of the ERP platform.

Equipped with the ability to collect and analyze intricate employee data - encompassing demographics, compensation details, performance evaluations, training histories, and attendance records - ERP systems provide organizations with the tools necessary for making informed decisions. By effectively utilizing this technology, organizations can devise targeted strategies, promote a positive work environment, enhance employee engagement, and drive overall organizational success, ultimately increasing efficiency.As you plan your next technology investment, consider exploring our comprehensive product guide for Sparkrock 365. This guide will elucidate the benefits of integrating HR management with finances, payroll, scheduling, and other systems. Additionally, it will highlight the key features we've developed specifically to help K-12 schools thrive in an ever-evolving educational landscape.

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