Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Exploring Retention of Millennial-Aged Noninstructional Administrators in Washington Community Colleges Public Deposited

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  • Background. As community colleges are increasingly composed of Millennial-aged professionals, workforce retention of those professionals is now a major priority. The Millennial generation is more diverse and more likely to be impacted by technology than any generation before them and is a generation characterized by dual-income partnerships. These and other factors impact their workplaces and their interests in finding and keeping a job. Through the theoretical framework of living system theory, this study explored the patterns (relationships) experienced by noninstructional Millennials as they navigate work–life balance within existing human resources (HR) programs in the community colleges where they are employed. Purpose. This qualitative research study explored the relationship experienced by Millennial-aged, noninstructional professionals at community colleges in Washington State. The research focused on one question: How do Millennial noninstructional administrators perceive, react to, and experience work–life initiatives and work design when navigating work–life balance? Setting. Semistructured interviews took place in person at the workplace of each participant. Participants were from four separate community colleges. Two were from rural community colleges with fewer than 3,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) students, and two were from urban community colleges with more than 4,000 FTE students. Participants. Interviews were conducted with 13 individuals. All participants had more than 2 years of professional experience, and all had some postsecondary education. Research design. A qualitative, semistructured interview process used phenomenology as a framework to explore how participants perceived, reacted to, and experienced navigating work–life balance with a traditional HR system. The study sought perspectives and stories from participants in how they accessed or made meaning of existing programs available to them as they integrate work and life. Data collection and analysis. Interview data were transcribed and uploaded into NVivo software and subjected to two coding cycles. The first cycle focused on coding for broad organizational categories, and the second cycle focused on substantive categories. Organizational categories were based on the literature review, and substantive categories allowed me to code shared perceptions or reactions to the participants’ experiences. In addition, the interview participants were given two opportunities to provide member checking. They reviewed original transcript data and emerging themes in an effort to ensure internal validity and accuracy in reflecting their intent. Findings. This research study greater defined the lived experience and found support for five areas of potential impact in community college retention of Millennial-aged, noninstructional employees. The five areas of potential impact in retention are (a) the importance of the supervisor in work–life initiatives and balance; (b) flexibility in work; (c) the definition of work; (d) liking the job or feeling that the work is a part of their passion; and (e) pay, opportunities for career advancement, and work flexibility. Implications. Based on the findings of this study, community college leaders are more likely to retain high-quality Millennial-aged administrators in noninstructional positions if they understand and actively support the navigation of work–life balance; create an environment that supports flexibility in work time, place, type of work, and workflow; recognize the importance of passion in their employees; acknowledge Millennials’ definitions of work; and understand that pay, career advancement, and work flexibility are important to Millennials as they consider whether to stay in their current positions. This study has helped to fill a research gap in understanding the lived experience of Millennial-aged, noninstructional administrators in community colleges.
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