Just weeks into the new school year, districts are confronting a crisis that shows little sign of abating, job openings for crucial support staff are going unfilled. While each year, every school district faces its own unique set of challenges this year many are facing an unprecedented shortage of staff. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 446,000 public education jobs were open in June, and 460,000 in July, compared with less than half those figures at the same point last year. While some districts are struggling to retain teachers and principals, a more urgent need has arisen for employees who have traditionally operated behind the scenes. In the past, there has always been talk of teacher shortages and issues with low wages. But in the face of the pandemic, issues facing support staff, such as custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and substitute teachers, are taking a front seat as the top pain point.
A Schools Essential Workers
The K-12 workforce includes more than 6 million people, however, full-time teachers account for less than half that number. The rest of that statistic is comprised of substitute teachers, bus drivers, food service workers, and other non-teaching staff.
Furthermore, what’s often overlooked is the impact that these employees have on students learning experience. When longtime a long time bus driver retires or changes industries, students lose out on starting and ending each day with a friendly, familiar face. When assistants for students with disabilities leave students lose the stability of an aide who knows their schedule and emotions inside and out. This means that not only is attracting talent to the positions important but retaining them becomes key.
Overcoming Support Staff Challenges in Your District
Compensation & Benefits
An obvious starting place during staffing challenges is to take a good hard look at your compensation and benefits packages and see where improvements can be made. Are your offerings comparable to your competitors? To really outshine the competition aim to bring your compensation packages in line with your region’s cost of living. But just making this adjustment isn’t enough, – make sure that your better than average compensation and benefits are displayed prominently in your job listing not buried at the bottom. Always include your pay rate in any communications or employment advertising.
Expand Your Recruitment Strategy
In today’s recruiting market, there is no longer time to wait and let the job candidates come to you. When it comes to job fairs and hiring events look beyond the basics to promote them. Take advantage of technology and go beyond a simple job posting on your own district’s website. Leverage the power of social media to post and promote job openings and hiring events. If budget is an issue, look to job boards like Indeed and SimplyHired that allow free job postings. Consider the utilization of an applicant tracking system (ATS). Many top ATSes automatically integrate with job boards for ease of candidate lead gathering.
Audit Your Career Site
Your career site is an important part of a streamlined recruiting strategy. Is your ATS simple to navigate and user-friendly? How many steps does it take to reach the application stage? The simpler the process the more candidates will follow through. You’ll also want to pay attention to SEO and mobile optimization. Remember that if your job postings are in PDF format web crawlers can’t read them and therefore won’t optimize your site for them. With regards to mobile optimization, a recent study by Glassdoor found that 58% of their users looking for their jobs on their phones. And according to a survey by Glassdoor, 35% of job seekers would actually prefer to apply for jobs from their phones.
Another great addition to your compensation & benefits package is offering signing bonuses. These bonuses can help to attract the candidates you need now and allow you to stand out from the competition as a top employer.
Transparency & Safety
Providing school support staff with transparency around safety protocols in your district can go a long way towards easing worried minds. Consider providing training programs to ensure that staff, existing and new, are familiar with new procedures and protocols.
Attract the Right Candidates
Getting more cooks in the kitchen, drivers on the road substitutes in the classroom, and custodians on the grounds is a top priority. Make sure that you are creating the kind of job descriptions that will stand out in the sea of competition, if you’ve adjusted your compensation to be competitive, be sure to include the new pay rate.
Source Candidates at Volume
Partner with Work4 to help your district source candidate leads at scale. We offer a range of products to help you generate the candidate leads you need to staff your district. From Janitorial staff to substitute teachers, bus drivers to food service workers we have a solution that’s right for you.
Getting the number of applicants you need to fill your vacant spots is key. With Work4 our job board and candidate lead sourcing solutions can help you get in front of your target audience with ease. Contact us today to speak with one of our professionals and see how we can help.