Staffing issues in Early Years settings is not news to the sector, but the Covid-19 pandemic has seemed to have exacerbated the issue for many. Specifically, to recruit nursery staff has been placed under major strain. While there is no magic wand to wave that will eradicate your staffing issues, there are numerous practical methods and tools that you can implement at your setting that will certainly set you on the right path.
Not only is your business about taking care of children and babies, but like many owners, you may also consider your business to be your baby. Therefore, you know that having a solid, reliable foundation for it is of paramount importance. This starts with hiring the right people.
It is clear that motivated, knowledgeable and experienced nursery staff are key to supporting children’s development in Early Years settings. So how do you find them? And how do you encourage them to join your nursery business? In a sector struggling to recruit good staff, you need to make the position and your business attractive. How do you do this? Address the common concerns or apprehensions most have about joining nursery businesses:
All of which, by implementing the right recruitment strategies, can be improved at the very least.
When budgets are stretched, it puts you in a difficult position in terms of salaries, increases, bonuses and so on. Have you tried:
You need to be transparent with the opportunities for CPD (continuing professional development) that are available when someone joins your team. If applicants see that this is a business that invests in their employees, they are more likely to apply (and stay!). Mentioning the programmes you offer, the fact that you give time off to study, and so on will be a big convincing factor for applicants.
It is vital that you clearly set out your nursery business’s ethos to applicants. This will help to a) attract employees of a similar mindset, and b) improve your employee retention rate as they are more likely to be happy around people who share the same passion, ideas, and motivation. Make sure that you communicate this on all advertised job positions.
Remember that nursery staff retention starts with a proper recruitment process. You need to give your business a fighting chance from the word ‘go.’ We’ve summed up the hiring process for you in this flow diagram below.
Sit down and think about what you need this person to do. What solutions to current problems that your nursery business is facing do you aim for them to bring? Then set some time apart for defining the job specifications. Don’t fall into the nursery setting trap of underselling yourself. Remember to highlight all the benefits, and opportunities you are offering when a person joins your team.
Additionally, do not underestimate the power of a planned and proper onboarding. Childcare settings are always buzzing, but if you drop a new member into the deep end – without teaching them how to swim – odds are they will leave without having a chance to show the real value they can bring to your business. It might be worth revising your onboarding policies and procedures if you are finding a high number of nursery staff are leaving only after a few weeks or months.