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Employee Retention and Engagement: Student Point of View

Respected, valued, and supported were three commonly used words to describe how student staff felt in connection to their supervisors at Recreation Services. With unemployment rates higher than ever, the Rec has managed to sustain a large pool of hard working undergraduate staff members. In my findings, the key components to retaining such a crew are: building a strong sense of community, giving positive feedback regularly, and ensuring staff have the knowledge and resources they need to succeed.  

Building a positive working environment is easier said than done, but the professional staff have prioritized making work a safe space for students. Aside from hiring kind individuals, supervisors consistently check in with their students, offer support in the form of snacks, and are flexible when scheduling hours. There is a level of trust and understanding between the professional and student staff that makes work feel a little less like work. 

In an anonymous survey conducted, one undergraduate staff member said, “the sense of community and family this job has provided outweighs everything. Everyone gets along with each other and there’s never really intense unneeded pressure from professional staff. They reiterate how we’re a priority and give us more than enough resources to succeed.”

Without a clear understanding of job responsibilities, department supervisors cannot expect their staff to be performing tasks efficiently. With this in mind, Facility Coordinator Dayton Einck puts lots of time into training his student supervisors that oversee gym operations and staff throughout the day. Many of the responsibilities of employees at the Rec are sporadic and fast paced which is why having thorough, consistent workshops are vital to their success. 

Guiding student-employee learning at Recreation Services is the framework of  8 Career Readiness Competencies: Collaboration & Teamwork, Communication, Professionalism, Intercultural Perspectives, Leadership, Learning & Application, Critical Thinking & Problem Solving, and Technology. These terms have been integrated into the training of student staff, giving them the language to describe what they have practiced in their positions. The competencies are also a tool for professional staff to reference when assessing feedback from employees that fill out exit surveys upon graduation.

Written by Sydney Parizek