Staff on the frontline often think they're forgotten people until something needs to get done. Between juggling student emergencies and crises, acknowledging their work can go a long way in showing your appreciation.
Based on personal experiences shared by a former associate housing director, it's helpful to know that supervisors are thinking about you and acknowledge how hard you work.
Acknowledge their busy schedules
As a supervisor, knowing what time frames your staff is actually working can go a long way. It sounds simple, but this acknowledgement - whatever that may look like - can mean a lot to your staff. For example, if someone on your team was responding to a late night student crisis and was up until 4 a.m., working with their schedule to get what they need, whether it's rest or time to decompress, would probably mean a lot to them.
Be knowledgeable of meetings that are already set on calendars. If you're looking to add another meeting, consider if it could it be combined with something already on the calendar, or sent in an email. Leaving time in your staffs' days to allow them to work on other projects and handle any emergencies will free up time and energy.
Remind them they're appreciated
Appreciation has to be sincere to really show you recognize all of their hard work.
- Consider a department shoutout or personal email to show your regard.
- Be sure to know the details behind their dedication to a particular situation.
- Make sure it's not an empty acknowledgement that was simply added to the end of an unrelated correspondence.
Even if you're not the immediate supervisor of that frontline staff, take the time to connect with them and see how they're doing. For example, show interest in discussing their career path or where they see their position at the university going. Simply stopping by their office and saying hello is going to make your frontline staff feel heard, and confident their work is making an impact.
Don't forget about the student staff
We think a lot about the professional staff on the frontlines, but you can't forget about the first line of defense for any sort of student situation: the student housing staff.
These team members have a particularly difficult job because they have to be a resource for other students while they're also going through the challenges college brings themselves. They still have to uphold a great deal of responsibility. These students handle a lot of situations that not many students would want to do, and they're doing so while juggling classes and internships. Acknowledging your students on the front lines keeps the team together.
From your student staff to professional staff, remember to show your appreciation for the hard work and dedication on the frontlines. Many of the current challenges for student affairs were unforeseen due to the pandemic, and it's important to acknowledge that so the team dynamic for the frontline is as strong and healthy as can be. Affirmations go a long way during these difficult times and can be as easy as sending a personalized thank you note, text message, or email. In turn, you'll see increased morale and productivity, creating a positive and overall better work environment.