Employee Appreciation

Written by Mark Wolf, Director of Training and Technical Assistance

I was recently made aware “Employee Appreciation Day” is the first Friday of every March.  I was also recently a part of a discussion with runaway and homeless youth (RHY) grantees on staff recruitment and retention challenges. The two, employee appreciation and staff recruitment/retention, are certainly related. We are in a very competitive job market, and RHY programs are not always able to offer comparable wages for staff. This makes it very difficult to recruit and retain good staff.  In addition, youth care work is one of the most demanding fields. Youth care workers are required to have a special set of skills, knowledge, and abilities they need to be able to recognize and assist with challenges youth face.

The gist of the discussion on staff recruitment and retention comes down to the critical importance of valuing and appreciating every staff person.  This means taking the time and making the effort to find out what someone needs from their job and finding ways to meeting those needs as their supervisor or co-worker. In order to value and appreciate staff, they should be included in program design and development decisions, strategic planning, treatment team meetings, and everything else impacting outcomes.  It means communication from the top to the bottom and from the bottom to the top.  It means cultivating and nurturing a work environment that is fun, supportive, safe, inclusive, and team-oriented while ensuring the environment also promotes self and collegial care.

There are tangible ways in which appreciation and valuing can be demonstrated to staff. These include  investing in training and professional development, providing regular supervision, providing peer support, and acknowledging and celebrating successes and growth on a regular basis.  I believe we all need to be appreciated every day.  Hopefully, employee appreciation day reminds us of this and encourages us to take action.

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