Report: Keynote at the Society of Georgia Archivists Annual Meeting (October 2022)

Late last month I offered a keynote to the Society of Georgia Archivists at their 2022 Annual Meeting. Their theme, “Sustaining Practices: Practical Solutions for the Future” included attendee interest in the rise in burnout, and not surprisingly, the connections to self-care. I wanted to gather and share some context of what’s going on in archives workplaces, so I turned to Ithaka S+R’s A*CENSUS II All Archivists Survey Report. The report covers topics from archives worker compensation to job duties, and also sheds light on broader and deeper issues centering job security, equity diversity, inclusion, and employee retention. 

During my keynote, I asked attendees to share some data with me, which I then compared with the A*CENSUS II data.

What is your general employment status (n=23)?

SGA1Results (1)

  • 87% are full-time employees
  • 4% are part time only and looking for full-time work
  • 4% are part-time only and not seeking full-time work
  • 4% are volunteers

Generally, SGA annual meeting attendees tracked with the A*CENSUS II report (81% employed full-time).

If you work full-time, in which range does your salary fall (n=23)?

SGA2Results (1)

  • 74% between 40K – 79K
  • 22% 80K or more
  • 4% 39k or less

SGA data reflects A*CENSUS II respondent trends: 61% of that respondent group made between 40K-79K; 10% of respondents made 39K or less.

Do you plan to stay in the Archives profession (n=28)?

SGA3Results (1)

  • 64% Yes
  • 32% Maybe/Not Sure
  • 4% No

This result also reflects A*CENSUS II responses – 54% of participants shared they don’t plan to leave archives in the next five years. However, that also means that the percentages of those who aren’t sure also track – and that’s over a third of the respondent group. Finally,

If you plan to leave (not due to retirement), what’s the most likely reason (n=18)?

SGA5Results

  • 39% Limited career advancement
  • 22% Compensation
  • 17%  Burnout
  • TIE: 11% Work-life balance and Pursue a different career

There was some variation between the SGA group and A*CENSUS II responses (burnout and compensation tied at 35%, followed by limited career advancement (32%).

During the rest of the keynote, I discussed various aspects of low-morale development, connected frameworks like job precarity and burnout, and ended with established and emerging countermeasures. I asked the group to pick three countermeasures they’d consider trying or expanding if they are dealing with low morale:

SGACountermeasures (1)

  • TIE, 52% – Assertive Communication, Rest
  • 45% Self-Compassion
  • TIE: 42% Continuing Education, Creativity

These data offer an on-the-spot/real-time glimpse into some aspects of job security and other factors for archives workers, along with their own reflections with regards to cultivating positive responses to low morale in their workplaces.  As I continue my work, I hope to delve more deeply into the experiences of archives and special collections workplaces.  Thanks to the Society of Georgia Archivists for inviting me!

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