Finding and Retaining Talent in Islamic Schools during a Low-Unemployment Environment

(Insights extracted from an Article written by Lisa Kahler in Islamic Horizons May/June 2023/1444 Issue (Page 22-23)

In March 2022, 44% of current employees were looking for a new job, with half of them seeking higher pay. According to reports, staffing shortages are harder to overcome now compared to one year ago, especially in schools and nonprofits. There are loosely 5 categories within the hiring and retention process: (1) planning for future hires, (2) pre-hire application process, (3) hiring and onboarding, (4) retention and recognition, and (5) off-boarding. While times are tough, schools can consider the following tips to address staff shortages.

Establish a Talent Pool:

Establishing a talent pool is a useful contingency plan for reducing the cost and time to hire and ensuring school operations are minimally affected by resource and skill shortages. This can be achieved by creating a database of potential employees’ names, contact information, and references.

Further, encourage training opportunities for current staff and ask them for referrals Hiring from an existing talent pool speeds up the hiring process, reduces onboarding time, and increases retention and employee morale.

Build Pipeline for Future Hires through Internships:

Collaborating with a local community college to establish an internship program can be a viable alternative to hiring new employees. This program can involve partnering with a teacher training course and having students perform their mandatory service hours at your school as tutors or classroom volunteers. Though this approach may not provide immediate employment opportunities, it can set a foundation for a larger network of potential future hires.

Draft an Airtight Job Description:

Developing accurate job descriptions is an important part of the hiring process as it clearly outlines the position’s title, primary responsibilities, required and recommended qualifications, and salary range.

Having a bank of concise job descriptions allows for efficient advertising of available positions, both internally and externally, through various platforms such as social media, school newsletters, and websites with free and adaptable templates. An accurate job description also helps the hiring team easily screen initial applicants, ensuring that all applications are reviewed with the same criteria and identifying candidates who meet the minimum standards.

Maintain Relationships, Even During Off-Boarding:

Pay attention to ongoing relationships and team building with all staff, recognize staff contributions and improve school culture to achieve lower turnover. Inevitably, staff will leave and/or need to be fired. In this case, you want a clear departure process with an exit interview and return of digital and physical company belongings.

Key Steps for Successful Hiring and Retention:

  • Maintain an up-to-date talent pool database of current connections and referrals, and clearly list available positions and their requirements.
  • Post positions internally and externally, request referrals, and identify applicants who meet minimum qualifications.
  • Administer tests, role-playing, and demos to evaluate the skills and capabilities of potential hires.
  • Provide a written document outlining the position and paperwork requirements upon contact with a potential employee.
  • Introduce new hires to staff and protocols, arrange transition support, and determine probation period length.
  • Conduct regular evaluations and meetings to discuss progress, concerns, and goals.
  • Foster employee engagement and recognize individual or team contributions to reduce turnover rates.
  • Have a clear departure process in place, including exit interviews and return of company materials, recognition, and ongoing engagement opportunities.

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