Three Things that Will Improve Your Teacher & Staff Retention Efforts

April 11, 2024

Here are three tried and true tips to support and drive up employee retention and wellbeing, along with some resources for deeper exploration:

1. DEFINE WELLNESS / WELLBEING. A common pitfall many leaders fall into is not reflecting on what these two words mean. If you don’t know what they mean, you won’t know what to do to achieve them. Wellness deals more with the physical and mental health of people, while wellbeing deals more with emotional, social needs, like belonging, engagement, purpose, meaning, autonomy. They relate to each other, but are not the same.

Additionally, I often see leaders get stuck in the narrow “hedonic” happiness definition (maximize pleasure and minimize pain). In defining your wellbeing metrics, consider Dr. Marty Seligman’s #PERMA model (positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, and accomplishment) – or a version of any amended models, the #USsurgeongeneral framework for workplace wellbeing, or  Kathryn McEwen’s Resilience at Work (R@W) framework, among others.

2. THINK SYSTEMICALLY.  Part of the success of any wellness or wellbeing intervention depends on considering the inextricability of system stressors and leadership behaviors from employee experience at work. It’s often not effective (or even destructive) to offer token wellness hacks (pizza Fridays, standalone mindfulness sessions, gym memberships, jeans mondays, donut Wednesdays, or a 15-minute massage) without considering the contexts, timelines, stressors. It can’t just be a thing in isolation even if it’s easier to do it this way.

Imagine trying to stop a firefighter while they’re putting out a housefire and telling them you’d like to offer them a focus skills mindfulness session. Good intentions, bad timing.

More on the limitations of standalone wellbeing programs – William Fleming‘s research:

3. POSITIVE MESSAGING: Make your intervention be a #netpositive by considering how it is messaged.

Rather than just focusing on reducing harm, communicate the positive outcomes and potential benefits. What are the positives behind your reason for doing this work (the positive psychology approach)?


As an employee it doesn’t light my 🔥 to say “reduce stress” – I can easily retort saying I don’t need it because I’m not stressed, but saying “build connection, belonging, calmness” – you can always have more of those.

It’s a mindset people can get behind. For positive organizational transformation, it works better to be FOR something rather than only ANTI things. What are you FOR?

Anything I’ve missed? 

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