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ARU Student Affairs Staff Retention Discussion

ARU Student Affairs Staff Retention Discussion


please respond to. Anna with. 350 words. ap a. style. citations and references  

A current challenge facing student affairs leaders is staff retention. Student affairs professionals understand the value and necessity of their role in higher education, but the future of the profession is uncertain (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators [NASPA], 2022). Student affairs departments have seen early and mid-career professionals leaving the field (Spitalniak, 2022). Senior-level professionals are concerned with the interest decline in pursuing a path to leadership in student affairs departments (NASPA, 2022). Senior administration has observed a lack of interest expressed by newer student affairs professionals about pursuing a lifelong career. This may be caused by lower-level staff seeing senior leadership that work 80-hour weeks, and individuals who are overwhelmed, overexerted, undervalued, and under appreciated in their roles.

Challenges that threaten the profession’s sustainability are (1) a lack of clear and reasonable job expectations, (2) staff needing flexible work hours and locations, (3) a lack of appreciation and celebration of success (NASPA, 2022). Surveys found that “88% of respondents think that individuals who leave the field do so because salaries and/or compensation packages are not competitive for the experience and education required” (NASPA, 2022, p. 23). Additional factors that contribute to professionals leaving the field include “level of stress and crisis management responsiveness required for the role, which may lead to burnout,” feeling undervalued and underappreciated by the institution, salaries and compensation not aligning with assigned duties, and the “amount of hidden responsibilities that are not transparent in job descriptions or communicated up front” (p. 23).

The NASPA (2022) research suggests addressing the challenge of staff retention in student affairs departments by systematically approaching the need for staff care and aligning the preparation for the profession with the department’s evolving needs. The solutions include student affairs practitioners being knowledgeable about their position’s compensation trends, setting clear team and personal boundaries about needed rest, time off, and support, and determining the institution’s processes for promotions. The report also suggests that institutional leadership be clear and transparent about salary information and “communicate progress on efforts to prioritize staff wellness” (p. 30).

Improving workplace satisfaction among staff can provide a pathway to institutional health for the student affairs department. The suggestions provided by NASPA are broad, but an appropriate starting place for institutional administration to evaluate workplace and job satisfaction as it relates to student affairs professionals and their longevity in the rapidly changing departmental needs. Student affairs professionals believe their work is valuable and important. By creating a more sustainable workplace for staff, student affairs departments can see an increase in job satisfaction through employees feeling valued and taking pride in their accomplishments (Seifert et. al., 2022). To best support students, staff must feel valued for their accomplishments, appropriately compensated, and feel free to have a work/life balance that does not lead to high stress and quick burnout.


NASPA. (2022). The Compass Report: Charting the Future of Student Affairs. to an external site..

Seifert, T. A., Perozzi, B., & Li, W. (2022). Sense of accomplishment: A global experience in student affairs and services. Journal of student affairs research and practice 60(2), 250-262. to an external site..

Spitalniak, L. (2022). Student affairs workforce faces retention issues, report says. Higher Ed Dive.

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