Top Strategies for HR in the Education Sector

In the last few years, school districts across the United States have voiced concerns about teacher shortages. For instance:

Two fundamental issues underpin the U.S. teacher shortage: recruitment and retention. More teachers are leaving than are entering the profession, with burnout, lack of support, and low wages among the top reasons they leave and why fewer people become teachers.

HR professionals in the education sector can’t fix all these problems—K-12 teacher salaries, for example, come from a combination of federal, state, and local funding and tend to be set by school boards. But HR in education can improve teachers’ experience in four key areas: recruitment and hiring, culture, development and training, and benefits.

Let’s dive into strategies for making improvements in each of these areas

1. Recruitment & Hiring

As an HR pro in education, you’re tasked with finding qualified candidates for roles in:

That’s a weighty responsibility—these roles will shape the minds and values of our future generations. HR may not always be in the room making the hiring decision, but you can help support decision makers and school administrators with the right strategies and processes to find the most qualified candidates and give them an empowering hiring experience. Some of these strategies include:

Conducting effective panel interviews

To ensure you find the right cultural and academic fit, you’ll want to bring several heads together, but not so many that it slows down the hiring process. Google found that an interview panel of four people is more than enough to make adequate hiring decisions.

Be sure to diversify your panel. Include top administrators, like the principal (for K-12), and educators of various experience levels to identify the right candidate for the role. Each interviewer will add a different and valuable perspective on what makes a successful hire.

Encourage hiring panels to prepare questions on how a candidate will support the social and emotional wellbeing of students on top of their academic success. For example, at the K-12 level, interview questions should focus on classroom management, teaching philosophies, and conflict resolution among students and parents.

Validating credentials and licenses

Credential requirements vary by state and educational level. For instance, elementary teachers in California must earn a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, while those in Utah must earn a Level 1 Certification and pass the Praxis Exam.

These standards can change, so HR teams stay aware of state certification requirements. Here’s a complete list of current state requirements.

Tracking substitute teachers

Emergencies are inevitable. People get sick and accidents happen. Is your team prepared to handle these absences? HR teams should have a database with qualified substitute teachers who can fill these vacancies in a timely manner. Consider using an automated substitute management system that simplifies the process of finding coverage. This eliminates the task of your district personnel having to call substitutes to schedule coverage. Better yet, it provides recordkeeping and data analysis.

How you interact with substitutes can have a big impact on whether or not they decide to work in your district, so it’s important to create a good experience for them. When Frontline Education asked administrators and substitute teachers how substitutes choose to work a school district, both admins and substitutes agreed that availability to work was the top concern. However, admins overestimated the influence of pay and underestimated the importance of culture and support.

Admins vs. Substitutes

Establishing specific hiring standards for your institution

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to hiring educators and administrators in the education field. Each education level has different needs and demands. Therefore, it’s essential to establish standards that benefit your institution.

See all the ways we help you support your educators.

School Rules!

For example, a community college may prioritize hiring academic counselors who are familiar with transfer student college applications and can recommend majors and four-year institutions to students.

2. Culture

To find and retain great educators and administrators, you need to find people who align with your mission and values.

Think about the shared values, goals, attitudes, and practices you want to deploy at your institution. What makes your staff feel good about their roles? How can your staff help cultivate a culture centered on engagement and feedback?

At K-12 schools, a good place to start is your principals. The Learning Policy Institute reports that teacher attrition rates double when teachers “strongly disagree that their administrator encourages and acknowledges staff, communicates a clear vision, and generally runs a school well.”

HR in the education sector can help administrators and principals build a supportive environment for their staff by:

3. Career Development & Training

With COVID-19 raising many unexpected hurdles for educators, HR needs to reexamine how much their institution invests in support and engagement.

  1. How do you help educators persevere through rapid changes?
  2. How do you proactively keep staff engaged?
  3. Most importantly, how do you provide adequate support?

Schools should be offering professional workshops, seminars, conferences, and training to help teachers stay motivated and ahead of the game. Tap into your community and partner institutions to design a professional development program that aims to:

On an internal level, discuss ways your HR team can map out career trajectories and training programs for your teachers. For example, consider:

4. Benefits

While HR doesn’t make pay decisions in education, you can help administrators set up a better pay system and find benefits that will attract and retain highly qualified educators, especially since that’s a top challenge K-12 superintendents say they face.

Level Up Your HR Game with BambooHR

The demands in education can often feel overwhelming, but with the right technology at your side, you can free yourself to focus on helping administrators and educators care for students. BambooHR is HR software that’s easy to use and packed with powerful features, like the Applicant Tracking System, which helps organize and smooth out your recruiting and hiring process, or our secure employee database, which helps you centralize and monitor all your employee information.

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