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Encouraging, Equipping, and Empowering New and Current Staff

By Monique Frost

Consultant, The Career Leadership Collective

Has your team recently hired a new staff member or onboarded a new career services team?

Given the wildly competitive job market, chances are you have and will continue to onboard new hires within your office. In our Consulting and Training work, we have seen a significant and consistent rise in turnover as a challenge for career centers. For example, The Collective recently trained a staff team where every position, including the leader, had turned over within the past four years. Career services leaders, teams, and staff should anticipate a dynamic cycle of recruiting and training new hires over the next few years.

To address this ongoing cycle of recruiting, we must determine key reasons staff continue to leave for other positions. There are three significant causes for losing staff in Higher Education:

  1. A Lack of Visible Growth and Progression

  2. Inefficient Management and Lack of Flexibility

  3. Poor Workplace Culture

Based on these insights, it's critical to intentionally plan ways to retain the new and current talent you've invested in, sustain morale, and avoid turnover. To retain staff, we must proactively create a culture of professional longevity by explicitly and actively encouraging, equipping, and empowering current and incoming team members.

Consider these three areas when working to establish a culture of professional longevity.

  • Encourage staff to consider future career growth opportunities.

Upon hiring the right candidate, it is essential to articulate the impact individuals can have in their roles and overall at the institution. Business Insider tells bosses to note that 77% of employees state that a top reason for leaving a position is the lack of career growth.

Career Services leaders must intentionally inform team members of the opportunities surrounding skill building, future career trajectory pathways, and potential leadership opportunities relevant to a staff member's role.

For staff to be able to pursue growth opportunities, they must be appropriately skilled for future roles. These skills might be developed by taking on-campus classes focused on data visualization or upskilling via LinkedIn Learning. If team members need more clarification about their direction, managers should give time and effort to explore and answer these vital career components within supervision and team meetings.

  • Equip staff throughout the life cycle of their positions.

Onboarding and training incoming staff is exciting and can be rewarding for many experienced professionals participating in the process. However, career teams often oversaturate the onboarding process, creating an illusion that all staff members benefit from revisiting content. While it is beneficial to have refreshers on crucial information related to the office and roles, dedication to developing those past the novice stage in their positions is essential.

Outlining and mapping the attributes of the careers team, from novice level to expert, not only helps to demonstrate how each staff member should be developing throughout their career but also provides performance metrics. Equipping staff using internal and external resources will develop a more well-rounded professional. The Career Leadership Collective recognizes the developmental needs of career services professionals at various levels.

Spend time exploring and discovering appropriate resources for staff members to accurately meet individuals' developmental needs. Investing in and resourcing staff can help them feel supported as you continue to advocate for competitive salaries and flexibility.

  • Empower staff to act on skills, gifts, and talents. Staff empowerment goes a long way when building and maintaining staff and team longevity. Research has demonstrated that when employees feel empowered at work, it is associated with more robust job performance, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. An empowerment roadmap for staff and team members should include the following:

    1. Identifying the individual needs of your staff and team members to feel empowered.

    2. Creating an action plan: Where is empowerment encouraged and needed?

    3. Providing guidance and support regularly, individuals enact empowerment.

Following this roadmap can allow staff to bring new ideas and skills to their positions, resulting in an empowered team and positively impacting campus constituents. These efforts can result in work nominated for campus and professional association awards, furthering staff empowerment.

Consider the power and positive effect that can take place when teams are encouraged, equipped, and empowered; the benefits can lead to a culture and, ultimately, a legacy of success.

NOTE: Before implementing solutions, it is crucial to comprehensively understand what elements of employee turnover you and your office have the ability to change. From that analysis, a solution-focused strategy can be established and implemented in the areas where the agency exists.

At The Collective, we are eager to partner with you to connect your team with professional development opportunities, best practices, insights, and communities of peers facing similar challenges. Check out our July 2023 Think Tanks for segmented conversations about the future of career services.

About the Author:

Monique Frost brings over a decade of professional experience in Higher Education, including roles in Career Services, Residence Life, Student Orientation, and Student Counseling.

Monique values learning, growth, and development and seeks partnerships to assist constituents in achieving excellence. Her focus is on contributing to the success and growth of institutions, teams, and individuals.


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