10 Proven Strategies To Transform Your Early Years Setting and Retain Top Talent

There is a recruitment crisis in many industries in the UK currently. The care industry, the NHS and education are struggling most to recruit and retain high-quality staff to serve the needs of the population. The early years sector is suffering too, and most settings are aware of the challenges they face as they grapple with the issues of staff recruitment, under-funding, and working out how they will fulfil the needs of the upcoming 15 hours of free childcare for 2-year-olds, extending to those aged 9 months and over from September.  

The Government may be investing billions in the sector, but without staff to run the nurseries, free childcare places will be little more than an empty promise. Early years managers need answers to questions now. How can they recruit new staff and retain the ones they already have? 

Over the last few years, there have been changes in people’s working patterns. Many industries still operate a remote workforce long after lockdowns have finished. But the early years sector cannot do that. We are a personal, face-to-face, people-focused business. Keeping the staff we already have is crucial, so we have listed a few ways you can put yourself in the best position to do that.  

Employee Retention In Early Years

Employee retention is a term used to see how well companies can keep their employees against a backdrop of people changing careers or leaving the industry. High employee retention rates generally indicate that there is good employee morale and job satisfaction and that people find the business an enjoyable and rewarding place to work. Usually, this is not just related to wages but encompasses things such as: 

  • Job satisfaction 
  • Morale 
  • Pay and conditions 
  • Effective teamwork 
  • Staff benefits 
  • Holiday entitlements 
  • Company ethos and values 
  • Availability of flexible working arrangements 
  • Opportunities for career development 

Companies who are successful at retaining their staff (and recruiting new ones) tend to use employee retention strategies to encourage people to apply in the first place, and then stay with them for a long time. 

Why Employee Retention Is Important In Early Years

There are many benefits for early years companies who actively engage in employee retention strategies, including: 

  • Reduced recruitment costs 
  • Creation of a highly skilled workforce 
  • Increased employee loyalty 
  • Better relationships with clients 
  • Positive company culture  
  • Fewer employee gaps and transitions, creating stability for parents and children 
  • Constant and positive reputation 
  • Good teamwork and staff interactions 
  • Easier recruitment as people want to work at the setting 
  • Consistency of procedures 
  • Better overall accounting results with decreased costs and increased revenue 

Why Do Staff Leave? 

When looking at staff retention in your setting, it is extremely useful to know why people leave. If you have staff that are leaving, you can conduct exit interviews to see if there are reasons that you can fix. You can also undertake some staff attitude or satisfaction surveys within your setting or send surveys to former employees about six months after they leave. Sometimes staff who are leaving will not give you the real reasons for their departure at the time but may be more open after a short period of time away from the setting.  

Some of the more common negative reasons for leaving a job include: 

  • Low salary and benefits compared to other settings 
  • A lack of training and personal development opportunities 
  • Dissatisfaction with working practices and/or management 
  • Practicalities such as journey times or other personal responsibilities 
  • Lack of flexible working 
  • Lack of recognition 
  • Lack of work/life balance 
  • Problems with colleagues 

If you have a problem with recruiting or retaining staff, then it would be a good idea to work through the list above and see what you can improve to make your setting more attractive to employees.  

How To Retain Staff In Early Years

Sometimes there are things in your setting that are not easy to change overnight. It might be difficult to raise wages, for example, until you attract more customers, and you will not be able to affect the public transport in your area. However, there are things that everyone can do to improve employee retention and one of the first things to address is to make employees feel valued and offer them opportunities for personal development and career progression.  

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that everyone wants the same career progression either. Some people are happy to stay as a Room Manager or to move sideways in your business, whilst others may want to climb the career ladder and move into management. The best way to know this is to ask your staff individually.  

Staff Personal Development Plans 

A personal development plan is a roadmap for each employee in your business. It will help you (and them) set out a plan for their development over time in your company and identify areas of training or experience needed to progress their career in the future. Many large companies have a graduate training programme where they take on fresh graduates, and there is a clear plan set out for them to reach a certain level of management over say, 2-3 years. As a manager in an early years setting, nothing is stopping you from creating something similar for your own staff.  

A personal development plan might include: 

  • An audit of the person’s current qualifications 
  • A gap analysis of skills and/or qualifications they would like to achieve 
  • Potential routes to achieving new qualifications/experiences (e.g. training, volunteering, additional duties and responsibilities, apprenticeships etc.) 
  • Timeline and plan to achieve at least some of the goals 
  • Ways you can help – training, mentors, new responsibilities, sponsorship 

Remember to include yourself as a manager in the process – your development matters too! 

National Careers Week 

When looking at ways to train and develop your staff, there is a lot of guidance available to you and your staff through the National Careers Service and National Careers Week (NCW). National Careers Week is a one-week celebration of career guidance and free resources to help people in education across the UK. It is aimed at students, educators and work organisations and can be a useful starting point for anyone looking to change careers or gain further qualifications. The week runs from the 4th to the 9th of March, 2024 but the resources and activities are available all year round. 

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top