Given today’s workplace climate, attracting and keeping great employees is tough for any business — especially childcare centers. However, there are ways to staff your childcare center effectively, even in 2022.
In this post, we’ll discuss current staffing trends, what today’s employees are really looking for in a new role, and how to attract and retain top talent.
Current Staffing Trends
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic saw employees resigning from their jobs in droves, and many didn’t return to their previous roles. Now, we’re seeing more available jobs than workers — a bizarre first.
If you run a childcare business, you’ve likely already been impacted by this “Great Resignation” or “Great Reshuffling,” which could continue into 2023. It has especially impacted occupations where a college degree isn’t necessarily required, like retail, hospitality, and recreation.
Because workers are facing an unprecedented choice of workplaces and working hours, employers are struggling to find enough qualified staff. This is especially true for childcare centers, which are rapidly losing workers as companies change to compete for top candidates.
How Is the Great Resignation Impacting Your Business?
Since the Great Resignation began, some childcare centers have been forced to close classrooms and/or cut programs such as summer camps and extracurriculars. As a childcare center owner, you’re probably very concerned about this trend. You don’t need us to tell you that cutting programs leads to a huge hit in revenue.
To fill responsibilities left by empty roles, owners and directors are being forced to ask more from their existing staff. This overtaxes and exhausts employees and can perpetuate the problem of losing staff to other, less demanding jobs.
We’re also seeing owners act as staff members when there aren’t enough employees to go around. When owners are forced to work in their business rather than on it, they and everyone around them become overwhelmed. Meanwhile, the business’s marketing and other management duties suffer from neglect, since the owner no longer has time to tend to them. It’s a vicious cycle that seldom ends well.
When you understand what’s at stake, you’re better positioned to explore how your business can — and can’t — effectively attract and retain top talent.
How to Attract Quality Applicants
It may seem silly, but there are wrong ways to hire new employees, especially in a time of panic. Hiring bonuses may seem like a great way to attract applicants, but they need to be done strategically. Otherwise, your new hires will work just long enough to collect their hiring bonus and then never show up again — an unfortunate reality many childcare centers are suffering from.
What you really need to do first is learn what benefits the best applicants are looking for in a new job. Really dive in and understand what’s important to them so you can make the best possible offer.
Next, research the current market and learn what’s available to local employees. That way, you can offer wages and benefits on par with other schools in your area.
Then, lay the foundation for a great job listing. Organize the information you’ve gathered and vet your online profiles to ensure they’re up to date with correct information.
Finally, list your job opening everywhere you can. You want as many eyes on it as possible.
We’ll expand on each of these steps below.
What Are Today’s Applicants Looking For?
Today’s applicants aren’t like the applicants of thirty, twenty, even ten years ago. They no longer value high wages above all else. Their first priority is that their job doesn’t interfere with their quality of life. Also important is a pleasant work environment in which management is actively engaged.
Today’s applicants don’t want to feel like just another staff member. They want to feel like they’re part of a team and a family.
This is an important paradigm shift in the American workforce, and it’s something employers must take notice of if they want to attract and retain good staff.
Of course, pay is still important. Above-average pay can be an easy deciding factor for an applicant.
As I mentioned earlier, a hiring bonus can be effective when executed properly. We’ve seen successful employers spread hiring bonuses out over weeks, with the first payment occurring after the employee’s fifth or sixth week on the job. This encourages long-term employees rather than short-term money seekers.
Additionally, discounted or free care for employees’ own children is a huge bonus for qualified parents who want to work but have toddlers of their own.
Lastly, consider offering bonus time off. Similar to PTO, you can allow employees to earn additional days off after billing a certain number of hours. This benefit will make your business more attractive than other childcare centers and help you stand out to potential employees.
Do Your Research
As we mentioned earlier, before you even consider listing a job, do your research and learn what benefits other businesses in your area are offering. If you don’t, you won’t be able to compete for talent or even retain your staff long term.
By the end of your research, you should be able to answer these questions:
- What benefits are other schools offering?
- What’s the average pay in your area by job title?
- Who is offering a hiring bonus, how much is it, and what are the conditions?
- What types of jobs did former employees leave for in your area? To those former employees, what were the benefits of leaving?
- How are other schools retaining staff?
- Do other schools offer benefits you don’t?
Organize Your Listing Information
Now that you’ve done your research, it’s time to organize and update the information you want to include in your job listing.
Begin by updating the “careers” page of your website with all your open positions. Include as many details as possible (the more the merrier!) with a full job description and requirements for each position. Be sure to list any unique benefits of working at your school versus another childcare center and communicate those perks clearly.
If you decide to offer a hiring bonus, it’s best to clarify that in your listing. Clearly state the timeframe over which the bonus will be paid out. For example, “$1,000 bonus paid out over five weeks after the first five weeks of employment.”
And remember to update your Google Business Listing with all the above details. Parents and prospects aren’t the only ones who look at business listings — potential employees do, too. Make sure your reviews are properly managed, especially your Glassdoor rating. Lots of applicants won’t look past the reviews.
Get your job listing posted as many places as possible. Don’t limit yourself to a free listing on LinkedIn and a post on your website. Really spread the word far and wide — everywhere you can.
By following these childcare staffing tips, you can overcome the staffing crisis we’re facing in today’s post-pandemic world. Remember that there’s been a paradigm shift in what employees value most, and it’s up to employers to meet those needs to retain top talent.
If and when you need to hire, do your research, be organized, and post your job listing everywhere! We have confidence in you and your ability to thrive if you take the right steps forward. Here’s to the future!
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