Retain Employees in Education Using Leadership Rounding

Retention is one of the toughest problems facing K12 education systems, today. Research shows that each year eight percent of teachers move to a different school and another eight percent leave the profession entirely. The numbers are similar for principal turnover. A report released by EdWeek explored the cause of turnover rates, asking teachers why they are leaving and polling employees and leaders about what the biggest needs are to support the profession. The study revealed that what teachers say they need in terms of support doesn’t match what school leaders believe teachers need.


  • Leader rounding applies a systematic approach to checking in with employees to gather feedback, assess engagement and build relationships.
  • Through leader rounding, districts can ensure better alignment across departments.
  • Frequent, intentional conversations with front-line employees ensure that systems are running smoothly and that employees have the resources they need to do their jobs.

Understanding the needs of employees and how to help them is critical to retaining them. The most effective way for education leaders to improve school employees’ experience is to provide the support they need to adapt to the changing education landscape. By rounding with employees, leaders can better understand their needs. Rounding also builds trust and shows employees that they are valued, resulting in better engagement, loyalty, and retention.

What is Leader Rounding?

Leader rounding is a systematic approach to connecting with employees one-on-one to get input on decisions that affect their jobs and gain insight into how the organization can improve. The practice is modeled from the healthcare industry off of the rounds that nurses and doctors make to check in with patients. They are quick connections that reduce anxiety, build relationships and ensure consistency of care. In the education setting, leader rounding connections are intended to be brief conversations that are focused on four questions:

  1. What is working well for you?
  2. Do you have what you need to do your job?
  3. Is there anything I can do to help you continue to perform well
  4. Is there anyone who has been especially helpful to you?

From this conversation, leaders can learn what employees most need to keep them with the school. They can then plan for developing the right skills through training and learning the resources most needed to do the jobs. Rounding also helps leaders harvest wins and allows employees to provide feedback about their work environment.

The Most Important Tactic for Employee Engagement

Making these connections does more than unearth the needs that will improve the work. It builds relationships because the employee knows that their input matters and that their leader is listening.

Employees want a leader who listens. A Salesforce report reveals that employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

If an employee expresses a need or a barrier to their work during a leader rounding conversation that cannot be addressed, it’s important to explain why it cannot be done. This level of transparency builds trust and the employee still knows they are heard.


To use rounding to improve retention in districts, schools and classrooms, leaders must:

Think differently.

Understand how to ask questions that improve employee satisfaction and obtain actionable information on how to improve the organization.

Plan differently.

Use tools to manage rounding conversations, gather valuable data about needs, and track follow-up actions.

Act differently.

Be an advocate for using feedback from those closest to the work to drive leadership decisions around needed resources and improvements.

Start typing and press Enter to search