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Submitted by pucciot on


What qualifies as good retention ?

I'm sure that the response to this is "Whatever your senior level executives consider good retention."

I listened to the podcast and I heard Mike and mark trying to say that the manager is more influential in retention than "the system" of the organization.


I can say that in my field we have a great deal of built in rotation for the para-professionals.

I work at an academic university library.  We often hire employees that are students; yes, for full-time and part time positions.

We usually have a large gap between our "professional staff" and our "para-professional" staff.

The university system is set up in such a way that there are many people hired on as para-professional mostly to get the tuition benefit.

In fact, when an employee states this clearly, and we approve their paperwork and we encourage them to get their degrees and then move on.    This happens with full-time and part-time staff.

And "the system" supports this.  We have often lobbied for better pay for these positions and have been told that we don't need to because the tuition benefit is a sufficient attractor and we don't expect folks to stay long anyway.

I'd rather make the full-time positions attractive to non-students so that we can have better long term retention.

How can a manager claim a "good" retention rate when so many of the positions are actually expected to rotate every 1-3 years.

Does this become a relative idea ? - Where if we can keep the same person in that position for the full 2-6 years of their degree (or however long it takes) we should consider that good retention ?  And consider it a true success if they get their degrees and move up and on ?

What do you all think ?


ssentes's picture
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Retention is defined by the system, culture and management of the organization. It is more than a definition as defined by your senior level executives, however, I am sorry to disappoint as that is a large part of it. There is no overarching definition for the perfect amount of time to signify "good retention". You need to decide in conjunction with your manager and the institution itself what you hold most valuable (retention or individuals continual learning and growth) and that will make your decision.

As someone who worked in academia for several years I can understand your frustrations with the lack of clarity. Many positions in these institutions are paraprofessional and as you mentioned there is an expectation of a certain amount of turnover. It is expectation of the academic system that it supports learning and the betterment of society as a whole. If that means a certain amount of turnover in the process as its students learn, grow and move on; the system is aware of that risk and is willing to support it. 

On the flip side of this, those who take positions at academic institutions are aware of the lower pay rates. The benefits provided by these insitutions by way of tuition remission, etc. are known to them prior to taking these positions. Don't look upon the lower pay scale as the deterrent for keeping your staff around. Individuals that come to Universities seeking jobs are either there to better society, better themselves, or both. Staff who only want to work in academia for the pay check are not the people that the system wants to keep long term.

Meet with your manager and get clear expectations of what they require from you by way of retention. When you have that you can use it as a guidepost. The only thing left to do is be a good manager, one who engages in effective behaviors and treats their people right. Then you can rest assured that you have done all you can do to keep those who want to be there, stay there. Some will stay and some will go, the only persons behavior you can control is your own.

Sarah Sentes - Manager Tools Presenting Associate