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Extension turnover: favorable trends (2/10/2017)

While we want all dedicated personnel to spend their entire career with the NDSU Extension Service, we recognize that staff members sometimes leave Extension for personal reasons, new career opportunities, or other reasons. Some also retire after long and distinguished Extension careers.

Over the past year, the Extension Leadership Team (ELT) has been looking at staff turnover rates to determine how we, as an organization, are doing with retention. To do so, we compared turnover rates for our Extension agent positions to those in other parts of North Dakota state government for the years 2011 through 2015.

According to North Dakota Human Resource Management Services, the division within the Office of Management and Budget that deals with human resource issues for state government, 12.5% of North Dakota state employees left their jobs in 2015 (Table 1). You will also note that turnover for traditional state agencies has increased from high single-digit percentages several years ago to low double-digit percentages now.

ND State Agency Turnover 2007-2015

Now let’s look at turnover with our Extension agent positions (see below). As you will see, our turnover has decreased steadily over the past few years, from 14.8% in 2011 to 8.8% in 2015.

NDSU Ext Agent Turnover 2011-2015

The good news is that turnover of Extension agent positions is lower than that of North Dakota state government as a whole, and while turnover of state employees has been increasing in recent years, our turnover is actually decreasing and, realistically, cannot get much lower.

That’s not to say that we are happy with losing a percentage of our staff every year. We invest significant time, energy, and funds to recruit, hire, train, and support staff, and we don’t want anybody to leave Extension on bad terms. If you have concerns, please visit with your supervisor, mentor, or a member of the ELT. We would much rather address underlying issues or problems than to see an employee leave the Extension Service.

The ELT would also like to think that we have high levels of employee retention because we hire great people and are committed to a set of core values. These include a culture built on honesty, making a difference, valuing lifelong learning, and valuing all people.

The NDSU Extension Service is doing great things, and we are awed and grateful every day to work with such passionate and talented people as we have in Extension. We hope that you feel the same way.

Extension Leadership Team

(Extension Director Chris Boerboom; District Directors Jim Gray, Kim Ruliffson and Ron Wiederholt; Program Leaders Brad Cogdill, Lynette Flage, Deb Gebeke and Charlie Stoltenow; Ag Communication Director Becky Koch; Assistant to the Extension Director Lori Lymburner; and Administrative Interns Carrie Knutson and Sam Markell)

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