HR Extras

The 10 most desired skills in an employee

Verbal communication and teamwork are the skills employers value the most, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.  

The Job Outlook 2016 survey asked employers to rate the importance of candidate skills and qualities on a scale of one to five, and verbal communication topped the list with a 4.63 average score. The ability to work in a team structure trailed closely behind with a 4.62 rating, while the ability to sell or influence others was rated the least important quality of an employee.  

Of the 10 skills listed, technical knowledge related to the job was ranked the 7th most important quality an employer seeks. This statistic speaks to the growing trend that hiring character and then teaching the required skills is perhaps more beneficial than hiring established talent with uncertain intangibles.

The full table of skills and their aligning ratings can be found below:

Weighted Average Rating
Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization 4.63
Ability to work in a team structure 4.62
Ability to make decisions and solve problems 4.49
Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work 4.41
Ability to obtain and process information 4.34
Ability to analyze quantitative data 4.21
Technical knowledge related to the job 3.99
Proficiency with computer software programs 3.86
Ability to create and/or edit written reports 3.60
Ability to sell or influence others 3.55

Retention interviews can make a big difference in employee satisfaction

One way to combat the teacher shortage is to place an emphasis on retaining the educators you already employ. This can be a challenge, especially in light of a recent survey that found one in three workers in the U.S. is likely to leave their current employer within six months.

The survey, conducted by Saba Software and, found that 60 percent of HR leaders believe their companies provide employees a clear career path, while only 36 percent of employees believe this to be true. Additionally, only 40 percent of HR leaders identify impact players and future leaders via performance review, which is a concern, considering 45 percent of employees want to move into a management or executive position within the next five years.

Some districts utilize exit interviews to identify the reasons their teachers are leaving, but another best practice may prevent employees from departing in the first place. Taking some time to conduct a “retention,” or “stay,” interview allows the district to address any concerns before they turn into problems big enough to motivate teachers to begin a new job search. It’s also an opportunity to build trust with teachers and provide them the platform to communicate ideas or improvements to the district operations and workplace.

Many topics in our Sample Exit Interview form (available in the HR Library) are transferrable to a list of retention interview questions by simply switching tenses from past to present. A few examples are listed below:
  • What do you like most about the district and your job?
  • What do you like least about the district and your job?
  • Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
  • How is your workload?
  • Are you receiving adequate support to do your job?
Diving into these topics before they become major issues can help districts retain their teachers and establish strong communication and trust between employer and employee. In a climate where quality teachers are at a premium, it’s best to try new and unique tactics to keep your top educators on your team.

Methods for retaining teachers, including retention interviews, are addressed in the HR Services workshop, Hiring Effective Teachers and Keeping Them. Information on this workshops and other in-district training is available in the HR Services training web page. 

DOL releases new FMLA poster and employer guide

The U.S. Department of Labor recently released an updated version of the FMLA poster, which employers are required to post in a location where it can be readily seen by employees and applicants for employment. The new poster, dated April 2016, is reformatted and contains additional information on military caregiver leave. Currently, only an updated English version is available. The Spanish version of the poster has not been updated.

Districts are not required to replace their posters at this time. According to the DOL, the February 2013 version of the FMLA poster, which is included on the TASB Federal Worksite Poster for Public Employees, is still good and can be used to fulfill the posting requirement.

The DOL also released a new guide to help employers understand their obligations and administrative options under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Employer’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act explains the FMLA regulations in a user-friendly manner and is designed to answer common questions about the FMLA. The guide is available as a pdf download from the DOL Wage and Hour Division Website. Print copies will be available to order from the Wage an Hour Online Publication System by mid-June.