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‘Thank you’ is a Verb: How to Recognize the Hard Work of OST Professionals in 2023

Tuesday, 03 January 2023 11:24

We have all seen it and felt it; the sense of wellbeing in adults is often closely tied to how we experience our workdays. Sources of job stress, job turnover, and job dissatisfaction among youth development professionals have been identified as things like work-life imbalances, overwhelming workloads, lack of training or professional development, and not being meaningfully recognized for the time and expertise they contribute. This new year is filled with opportunities – prioritizing how we demonstrate appreciation for out-of-school time workers will help us pursue each with better-connected employees.

An important first step before revamping your approach to thanking staff is remembering the gifts they share in their roles. Youth workers spend their professional talents and time caring for children and teens; they are crucial for young people’s success and, as such, the communities they serve. Together with family members, teachers, and friends, they weave together individual webs of support for each young person. With that in mind, here are a few meaningful ways to thank your team members this year.

  • Ensuring a “pay our people first approach” that invests in attracting and retaining youth-serving professionals
  • Improving their healthcare benefits, paid time off, and retirement options
  • Investing in their on-going professional education opportunities, and
  • Offering them assistance through sustaining self-care and mental health support services

You have a team of supportive, nurturing professionals with youth development education, training, and experience that help our youth navigate significant challenges on their own paths toward a healthy, adapted adulthood. Recognition in staff or board meetings, newsletters, and social media posts are all great ways to say ‘thank you,’ but in 2023, thank you is a verb, and impactful appreciation comes with action.