“Empowering teachers is the key to enhancing education.”
Issue 6 | Volume 4 | 2015
SPOTLIGHT TOPIC - PEOPLE MATTER MOST
A well-defined, multi-stage hiring process must remain a critical component of any school committed to excellence. Although the Head of School must ultimately be responsible for hiring, the process must provide for valuable feedback from others in the process.
Updated, well-defined job descriptions for all teaching and staff positions are essential at all times. The many schools that focus on job descriptions only in time for re-accreditation are leaving themselves vulnerable on so many levels.
Screening processes must be extremely thorough in today’s digital times. Too frequently, schools do not engage in a dedicated social media scan AND a “deep web” search. A great deal can be learned from a Facebook page, an Instagram feed...even Twitter posts from 5 years ago.
Rushing to hire without utilizing available assessment tools and personality profile software is never acceptable. The cost of a poor hire is simply too great. The more you know about a candidate, the more likely your hire will exceed your expectations.
References are not simply boxes to check, but rather an important data element in the multi-dimensional hiring process. How committed are you to obtaining references by phone for all new hires? How many do you require? Are they obtained prior to making an offer of employment?
Your employment contracts also represent an important part of the hiring process. An astute and qualified candidate will expect a well-executed document as
SPOTLIGHT TOPIC - STUDENT TRAVEL
should your Board. When was the last time you had your employment contracts reviewed by an attorney? A pre-emptive approach to employee issues is a must in today’s litigious world.
7. Thorough orientation and onboarding programs are a must. A program should be in place to ensure that new faculty and staff are given mentors. Safety and security policies and procedures should be included in all new faculty orientation as well as all regular faculty in-service programs.
8. Every school must keep in mind that the natural employee life-cycle includes events like marriages, births, spousal relocations and retirements. As such, it is imperative to have viable succession plans in place for key teaching and staff positions. Proactively preparing for employee turnover of key positions often leads to employee growth as well as the intended well thought-out transitions.
9. Schools should regularly conduct a thorough compensation/benefits study. That will help ensure that you have a clearly articulated compensation philosophy in place. Broad faculty and staff representation in this process will yield huge benefits down the road.
10. Too few schools practice detailed, humane, and consistent off boarding practices when someone has been let go or not given a new contract. It does not matter the circumstances, professionally “off-boarding” people is a valuable practice.
According to a 2018 Gallup Poll, more than one in five U.S. teachers (22%) say they have considered leaving their profession because of issues related to school safety.
Federal data from the National Center on Education Statistics (NCES) offers that the teacher attrition rate is almost twice as high at private schools than it is at public schools.
About one-third of public school teachers leave within five years, and about half are gone within 10 years.
Among new private school teachers in 1987, a little over one-quarter had left within three years. In 2008, more than half were gone within the same time frame.
The number of teachers who did not return to their positions for the current school year was at its highest point in over 10 years.
The number of vacant teaching positions was also at its highest point in over 10 years.
73% of teachers oppose having guns in schools.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that more than 9 in 10 public schools now conduct active shooter drills.
The same study showed that about 60 percent of teachers describe their schools as "very" or "somewhat" prepared and protected.
“Schools must take the initiative to eliminate sexual harassment and assault, first by acknowledging that these problems exist and then by tackling the problem in curriculum, policy, and the very fabric of school culture and community.”...NEAtoday.org
Carrollwood Day School (Tampa, FL)
Carrollwood's Chief Financial Officer, Larry Pittman, sees the human resources function of the school as critical to maintaining safety and security. "Strong HR policies and practices contribute to a more safe and secure school environment. Taking a proactive approach to hiring and retaining great people is essential to reduce risk. Having strong HR polices and practices will allow you to hire the right person for the school and reduces the risk of future employee issues. Vetting the candidates using strong HR policies will allow you to see this person from many perspectives which in return will reduce the risk of hiring a person that will end up not being a happy, productive contributor to the school community.
"People matter because our school community is built on relationships. Communication, caring and commitment from our faculty, staff and administrators builds trust among our school community. People matter because those relationships matter!"
Carrollwood Day School takes great pride in the diverse talents of its faculty and staff. The school also prides itself in fostering an atmosphere of respect, consistency, and concern that nourishes each student’s natural desire to learn. In 2016, Making Caring Common, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, recognized CDS as "A Caring School." CDS has partnered with Making Caring Common since 2014 to purposefully maintain their caring, inclusive school community where students feel safe, supported, and connected. As an MCC Caring School, they use data to better understand how students, staff, and parents experience the school community .
“People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” – Jim Collins, author of Good to Great
Hiring employees is one of the most important tasks any school undertakes. Without qualified and dedicated staff members - in all positions from the head of school to teachers to assistants to custodians to coaches – a school cannot operate in an effective manner for its students. As such, schools need to have procedures in place to ensure that all potential hires are properly interviewed, screened and vetted prior to hire.
From a legal standpoint, schools should ensure that their hiring processes comply with their state-specific laws regarding background reviews. Types of background reviews run the gamut from basic criminal background checks at a state level to a review of federal databases and national sex offender registries. Does your state require only a statewide check, or one that encompasses the region or the nation? Knowing the answer to this question is important and must be followed. Specific school policies also vary regarding the depth and breadth of background reviews. Always comply with both the state and school specific requirements at a minimum.
Second, schools should attempt to contact all references provided by potential hires and speak to them personally if at all possible. Much can be gleaned from a personal conversation that is not quite so obvious on paper. Often what is not said is as important as what is said; in other words, “read between the lines.” Also, depending on the nature of the hire, it may be prudent to seek out references other than those provided by the employee.
Third, schools should review the online teacher discipline databases maintained for those employees who posses a teaching certificate issued by a state. Although not all independent school teachers currently have or have had a state-issued teaching certificate, these databases can provide important information about past issues that may have arisen in a public school environment.
Consider standard or “boilerplate” references. Ask if the former employer provides “name, rank and dates of employment” routinely for all employees? Or only for this person? Ask appropriate follow-up questions, including “is there anything else you can share?”
Question all gaps in employment. Not all gaps are created equally – a year of maternity leave or a sabbatical to obtain an advanced degree is not the same as a year break due to a disciplinary action or loss of certification.
Compare the information on the background check with the information on the application completed by the potential employee to ensure consistency. If not, question the inconsistencies.
In conclusion, schools should not rush to hire a teacher (or any employee) simply to fill a position. Careful review and consideration is prudent. It is better to have a vacancy than to hire an incompetent teacher, known problem, or potential predator.
It's important to always seek out legal advice from your school attorney. This column is not intended to be legal guidance.
ALLISON AIKEN HANNA PARTNER
THE TOWER AT 1301 GERVAIS STREET, SUITE 1400
PO BOX 11367 | COLUMBIA, SC 29211
Checking Out: Properly "Off-Boarding" Employees
Steve Mandell, Founder and Principal Consultant, Big Back Pack & Mandell on Safety and Security
With all of our attention on hiring and the on-boarding of new employees, how much focus do we place on properly (and humanely) “checking-out” soon to be former teachers when the school year comes to a close? There does seem to be a rather shallow if not in-sensitive process when it's time to go. It does not matter the circumstances, professionally “off-boarding” people is a valuable practice.
While the term “off-boarding” is borrowed from technology as “removing a user from an identity management system or downgrading the user's privileges." Separation of employment refers broadly to the process of managing the termination of employment, whether involuntary (such as discharge, layoff, plant closure, disability or death) or voluntary (such as resignation, job abandonment or retirement).
Keeping It Positive
Unless it is the retirement of a beloved veteran teacher, both school and teacher seem to check out literally and virtually. The time in between once a teacher knows he or she is leaving and the actual end of the year can be tense and difficult. With a deliberate effort, it can also be, regardless of the circumstances, a more positive experience. It’s important to recognize that one cannot control this vibe even with the best intentions. It’s critical that the institution maintains an ethic of kindness, establishes clear goals and expectations, and follows appropriate policies and practices.
Timing of Communication
One key element in this equation is communication. How a school announces the departure of a current teacher and celebrates the arrival of an exciting new hire is a critical step in setting a respectful tone. Having learned from experience, schools would be wise to stifle their enthusiasm about a new hire until some period of mourning has passed. Your community will learn about new people when the time is right but premature messaging can cast a bad light on both the person leaving and the school.
Your faculty is watching to see how fair and supportive the school is being during a transition. One veteran teacher told me after learning that we had not issued a new contract to one of his colleagues, “I never liked her anyway, but it’s important to know that she was treated fairly.”. If you think your current employees pay attention to the hiring process, they are perhaps even more keenly interested in what happens when their soon to be former colleague is on the way out.
There are critical things to do in this process; a properly moderated exit interview is important. While this can be an uncomfortable situation, for both employee and administration, is it valuable. Be a good listener and be open to learning from people that are leaving your school. Whether the Head of School, CFO, or another senior leader conducts the interview is to be decided based on protocol and circumstances. A mentor told me years ago unless the employee leaves in a police cruiser, let them go with kindness.
Key areas of focus include, but are not limited to property return, security, benefits including
health insurance, and exit interviews. Schools are not “special” entities that should ignore the need for good policies and procedures in these areas.
A few things are clear in this equation and schools all too often hold their breath and hope for the best towards the end of the year or even worse, get drawn into some sort of public referendum on how they treat employees. It is much more effective to say little, document in detail, and protect the former teacher as you would a current one. We all learn from making mistakes. Take nothing for granted. One thing to remember is that everyone is watching.
I recommend you visit the SHRM website (www.shrm.org) as a good starting point to learn more.
American Automated Payroll
“Your People Matter To Us” is the commitment that AAP makes to their nationwide client base, employees, community and local schools. AAP is a Human Capital Management company headquartered in South Carolina dedicated to providing services to enable school administrators and educators to focus on students and school safety. AAP offers services that include applicant tracking, background screening for criminal history, work history, credit background checks, pre-screening for work ethic and integrity, screening for valuable state and federal tax credits, and electronic on-boarding with customizable new hire documentation.
AAP goes the extra mile to ensure the security of their client’s most sensitive information as well as providing a robust 360° Human Resource platform for employee engagement. The employee experience is key to talent acquisition, retention and workplace security. AAP’s process allows employees to receive regular feedback, reviews, and file workplace grievances, to ensure a clear and positive experience for both the client and their employees.
Andrew Osborne, CEO of AAP, when asked how his business can impact workplace safety, stated, “The pre-screening and on-boarding, no matter how good, is not enough to protect our schools and communities. Understanding your workforce and valuing the communication that flows bi-directionally between employees and their employer is key to keeping schools and businesses safe.”
The New Emphasis on Mental Health in the Workplace
As we see a rise in physical wellness programs across US workspaces, we’re also noticing a new interest in improving mental health. As mental health challenges plague the workforce, employers are starting to invest more in their workers’ emotional well-being. Take a look at the current state of mental health in the workplace and how to improve this metric for your employees.
The Mental Health Epidemic
According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people suffer from anxiety and depression worldwide. Suicide rates, alcohol and substance abuse, and disabilities from mental health disorders are at an all-time high. Even with access to alarming data and a plethora of treatment options, the state of mental health continues to decline.
These trends are attributed to several societal factors. However, reports show that the workplace plays a significant role in mental health. Low levels of support, inflexible working hours, burnout, and a negative work environment are a few work-related risk factors for this decline in mental health.
So how does this affect employers? Globally, anxiety and depression disorders are estimated to add up to $1 trillion each year in lost productivity. Considering that the workplace can be a leading trigger for mental illness, organizations are taking a stand to fight back against this epidemic.
Every $1 spent on mental health treatment creates a $4 return in improved health and productivity.
Should the Focus be on Employers?
With on-the-job risks at a record high, employers should be proactive by investing in the health of their people. This investment can provide significant returns for employers. In fact, research shows that every $1 spent in treatment creates a $4 return in improved health and productivity.
Building mental strength can also lower rates of absenteeism and health care costs. Not to mention that happy, healthy employees make for a better workplace culture. Improve mental health in the workplace by incorporating intervention strategies into your organization.
How do I Improve Mental Health in the Workplace?
Mental health experts recommend a multi-layered approach to wellness. Poor mental health can have several different risk factors, which means it’s necessary to provide a variety of support options.
Create a safe environment for employees. Co-workers who have a mental illness can experience increased feelings of distress if they don’t feel supported at work. Providing access to counselors and treatment resources help employees feel safe in the workplace.
Enforce a healthy work-life balance. Associates who feel overworked and burnt out often suffer from anxiety and find it difficult to manage stress. Implement a flexible work schedule to better accommodate the needs of team members. A healthy balance can reduce negative work-related triggers.
BY DAN MARZULLO
This article was originally published and distributed by Zenefits, a leading Human Resources platform that integrates all the processes, apps, and tools you need — any combination works with each other and you. You can visit the original article here.
Help employees recognize the signs of mental illness. Many issues are left untreated when an individual doesn’t know how to identify symptoms. Offer free screenings and educate staff about mental health disorders so they can find help.
Reduce the stigma associated with mental health. Employees are less likely to feel singled out when the company shows support. Make an effort to acknowledge mental illness and treatment options during team meetings and company functions. Offering support will help affected employees feel more comfortable when seeking treatment.
About Dan Marzullo
As a professional copywriter, Dan produces strategic marketing content for startups, digital agencies, and established brands. He helps organizations tell stories, achieve online presence, and builds brands that communicate with their customers. Dan is also a regular contributor to Forbes. He started writing after his first professional role as a health promotions coordinator for a local family physicians office.
Faculty and staff training is a critical element to a safer and more secure school community. Here are five fantastic training programs that were also the focus in 2018.
Active Shooter Response - ALiCE Training
Bleed Kit Training - BleedingControl.org
Bus Driver Training - Big Back Pack Program
Child Abuse Prevention - Darkness to Light/Stewards of Children
First Aid/CPR/AED - American Red Cross
SAFETY, SECURITY and YOUR STAKEHOLDERS
A must. It is imperative that you have a school-wide safety and security committee in place with clearly defined responsibilities regarding short and long-term planning and execution. Not only can this group help you plan drills, they can help you craft clear and compelling multi-tiered policy. Their participation most often strengthens the “buy-in” from your staff.
Every year, without exception. It is critical that necessary training be required prior to the start of every school year and/or on a regular schedule. Crucial training in first aid/CPR and child sexual abuse prevention should be mandatory for everyone.
Too late is way too late. Addressing sexual harassment with your faculty and staff only after an incident is far too common. Conducting ongoing training and providing clearly defined guidelines are a great start. Far too often this topic comes to the forefront only after unacceptable behavior manifests itself.