Attraction and retention are two sides of the same coin. I’ve learned that attracting skilled and dedicated talent is not an end unto itself, but a beginning. My company’s talent priorities are similar to those of a public school system in that our primary asset is people—knowledgeable, engaged colleagues are vital to success.

Turnover and attrition weigh not only on the bottom-line—through recruitment and replacement expenses, loss of intellectual capital, and productivity costs—but also on the quality of the work. In the case of U.S. public schools, these costs take their toll not only on local budgets, but on teachers, administrators, and, most importantly, students.

Today’s new hires, whether they are risk consultants or physics teachers, expect more from their jobs than just a paycheck. In other words, employees want to feel their organization—whether it’s in the public or private sector—has their best interests at heart. This in turn engenders higher levels of colleague engagement and commitment.
So how can public schools keep their best and brightest teachers? Schools, like other organizations, can bolster their retention rates by focusing on key drivers of colleague engagement:

Leadership and Direction: Employees need to have a clear understanding of an organization’s strategy and objectives—and how they, as an individual, can support those objectives. School leadership should not only communicate often and honestly about challenges and opportunities, but encourage two-way communication with teachers.

Career Development and Training: Even the most talented professionals were once new and inexperienced. Providing colleagues with opportunities to develop or renew their skills can increase confidence and satisfaction levels. Formal and informal mentorship relationships across experience levels can provide powerful opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Create a Culture of Respect: The key to lasting engagement is to create a community that shares ownership and pride in student and school success. Rewards and incentives are important and appropriate satisfiers, but employee empowerment is a key motivator. Give people the tools, trust and opportunities to make decisions, contribute ideas, and feel part of the process.

The advice I would give new teachers is the same advice I would give any new employee: Be creative and adaptable. Raise your emotional intelligence. Listening is more important than talking, especially if you’re new to the job. Be learning-agile. And most importantly, love what you do.