5 Ways to Ease the Stress for Your Staff Returning Back to Work

We are in the full swing of summer and our children and families are finally starting to return as we enter into the post-COVID19 shutdown! With that, now is the time that owners and leadership admin need to spend a little extra time communicating with your staff, making sure they are feeling prepared, confident, and encouraged to return to work in a positive and safe environment.

Owners are more than ready and eager for our children and families to return, but they need to be conscious of the fact that their staff might not be feeling the same way. Staff and teachers could be experiencing a mix of different feelings and emotions – they may be feeling nervous or scared about returning, think it’s too soon to go back to business as usual, or they may not understand what we as owners have been dealing with and experiencing over the past few months – and that’s okay.

To help you ease the stress for your staff around returning to work, I want to give all you owners and leadership admin out there a challenge: I challenge you to try to view returning to work from your staff’s point of view. Slow down, listen to them, help them, encourage them, and do everything that you can to make this a smooth, comfortable transition for them. Although what is comfortable to some may not be for others, as long as you are welcoming them back in a supportive, positive culture, eventually they will all get there.

So how can you ensure that your culture is supportive and positive? To help you with this, I have compiled a list of the five steps that consist of the most important areas to focus on when working towards this.

1. Make a list of all job expectations –

Will your staff have new responsibilities? Will your staff need to do things differently? What will they be expected to do each day? Take your previous Job Description (or what I like to call it, “Job Requirements”) and make sure it is all still applicable. Change and add anything that will be different or new.

2. Have a welcome-back employee orientation –

Welcome your staff back, or if you’ve been open, thank them for working under such stressful and uncertain circumstances the last few months. Celebrate the wins your business has had during that time and ensure them that you are moving forward together. Go over the list of the Job Expectations you made and make sure they understand what their job entails in “the new normal” of business.

3. Train or re-train your staff on their job expectations

I’ve seen centers volunteering to provide meals to families, sew masks, partner with other area businesses to provide services to the community, work with schools and hospitals to provide emergency care to those on the frontline, and more. CONTINUE DOING THIS! The more you get involved in community give-back programs, provide free online learning (Facebook storytimes), and partner with others in your area, the more it will come back to you. Give of yourselves for the sake of being of service to others, and they will remember you, I promise.

4. Reward them for meeting job expectations, living core values, and moving the vision and mission of your company forward – 

If you don’t have a good reward system in place, now is the perfect time to set one up. A staff rewards system is vital to keeping a positive work culture! And I already know that some of you with lower enrollment and income are thinking that there is no way that you could afford to have such a system in place – but you can!! You can pay your staff directly with a reward program that targets your goals. For example, if you are working on gaining enrollments, bonus them for any new enrollments that walk through the door or for creating a successful retention plan. Or maybe you’re currently focusing on instilling your core values into them- give them “tokens” that can be exchanged for cash prizes when they are caught living them out. Or if you’re working to get your staff to take policies more seriously you could reward them with an extra $0.25 an hour for each payroll period they show up on time, have no call outs, and dress appropriately. The ideas are endless and you can get really creative with this. The examples provided were to demonstrate to you that using a staff rewards system doesn’t have to cost you much but can be a huge motivational tool. It’s a win-win – your staff will love the fun, little bonuses they get and you, as the owner, will love the results of what a motivated staff can do for your business!

5. Hold your staff accountable –

This might not be the “fun” part of your staff returning, but it is necessary in order to keep your A and B players performing at A and B player levels. Get a system in place to “Inspect What You Expect,” meaning that you need to be visibly walking around your school, conducting one-on-one’s, providing training to staff and mentoring them, using scorecards/checklists. Regularly doing these things will help you make sure that the staff expectations that you’ve set are being met, and when they’re not, you need to have consequences in place that are consistent and fair across the board.

And that’s it! If you follow the five steps above, you can ensure that you are doing everything you can to provide a comfortable environment for your returning staff!


If you’re interested in learning more about the Child Care Success Academy™ or how working with our team can be of service to your child care business, we invite you to schedule a free 45-minute Coaching Call with one of our Coaches!

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