Governance corner
Practical tips from our MIG faculty
How to create a climate and culture that retains staff
One of the responsibilities of a district or county office of education governance team is to establish a positive climate and culture. District boards understand that a strong teacher workforce is essential to student achievement and must consider how to retain teachers, even amid shortages in key subjects like science and math. Many local educational agencies are experiencing a shortage of classified and confidential as well. While county boards do not hire staff, it is still important to create a positive culture and climate.

Boards should focus on six areas to build a positive climate and culture that will ultimately retain staff: developing and maintaining pride in the organization, feeling appreciated, being treated with fairness and respect, having a sense of accomplishment, engaging in interesting and meaningful work and building positive workplace relationships.

Trustees have an opportunity to help transform education as we return to in-person instruction. How do governance teams focus on building a positive climate and culture for our communities? How do district boards leverage this to retain the best staff for all students? Governance teams should consider these important questions to begin the conversation:

  1. How do we promote pride in our district or COE schools?
  2. How do we make all staff feel appreciated?
  3. How do we ensure equitable treatment of staff and show them the respect that they deserve?
  4. How do we foster a sense of accomplishment in the work of all students?
  5. Are we asking for and listening to staff’s input when it comes to defining interesting and meaningful work?
  6. What do our relationships look like with staff? How do we continue to grow positive relationships?
  7. How do we model positive relationships within our own governance teams?
  8. How do we recognize the accomplishments that staff have made throughout the year? Do we have time at our board meetings put aside for staff recognition?
  9. How might we support staff in their ongoing professional development?
  10. As a governance team, how do we speak with a unified voice to communicate the good news of what is happening in our districts and COEs?
  11. How do we support staff as they transition back to an in-person work environment? How do we bring staff together? How do we integrate new staff into the in-person environment who may have been hired during the pandemic closures?

We all need to take collective ownership for the climate and culture of our respective LEAs. A kind word or a small recognition can go a long way in creating a positive culture that brings out the best in our communities and the staff. We need to be mindful of the way we model pride, respect and appreciation to staff and ensure the climate and culture reflect the appreciation that board members have for the work that certificated, confidential and classified employees do for students daily.