Horace Mann encourages administrators to create a ‘stay strategy’ to retain stressed educators

educator survey of unfilled positions

If you’re being asked to take on extra duties and responsibilities at school due to staffing shortages, you’re not alone.

More than 30% of educators nationwide say there is a significant teacher shortage at their school, while 47% say there is a significant support staff shortage. Educators across the country are taking on extra classes and new responsibilities while losing planning time.

educator survey of unfilled positions

“Even though my role as a coach is to go in, observe teachers and give feedback, there are days when I’m no longer a coach – I’m a teacher in a classroom, I’m a custodian helping clean up,” Amber Smith of Patrick Henry Downtown Academy in St. Louis told Horace Mann. “If we have a teacher that calls in and we don’t have anybody available, sometimes we have to separate the kids into different classrooms. You might have a fifth-grade student that is in a Pre-K room, so they’re just helping, but they are missing out on fifth-grade instruction that day.”

Horace Mann undertook a nationwide survey of more than 500 K-12 educators to gauge how they feel about their careers in the current educational environment. We found that more than 60% of educators are considering leaving the profession, driven partially by a combination of staffing shortages, stress and financial worry. The most common career moves considered are retirement (42%) and transferring to a job in the private sector (28%).

The challenges of chronic school understaffing may be the tipping point for many educators to leave who have for years felt overworked and underappreciated, said Horace Mann Business Solutions Executive Kelly Ruwe.

“When you add in the financial stress and the financial pressures that our educators are facing, that’s a combination of a lot more work and not a lot of pay,” she said. “It’s making them think, ‘Maybe there are other opportunities that I need to pursue’ – even though their love is in education.”

The Horace Mann survey provided educator feedback on what school administrators can do to successfully improve their districts’ staffing levels. The top three items were a higher salary, more community support and more supportive district leadership. Other solutions included smaller class sizes, a better benefits package and feeling more financially secure.

educator survey stay results

While a higher salary can be difficult to provide, there are no-cost solutions administrators can offer their staff to encourage financial literacy, smart financial behavior and confidence in how to work toward financial wellness. For example, Horace Mann offers free financial wellness educational workshops to school districts on a variety of topics, including the basics of financial success and individual state teachers’ retirement systems.

“School districts can do more to provide financial wellness resources and support,” Ruwe said. “They can enhance benefit packages to provide more protection coverage to all school employees. And they can use mentoring and recognition programs to help retain teachers and strengthen a school’s culture.”

Read more about Horace Mann’s research in our report Checks & Balance: How financial stress and heavier workloads are accelerating the teacher shortage.

School and district administrators can sign up for financial wellness support on our interest page.

WBTL-0883 (Mar. 23)

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