Walk The Line

We all know staffing isn’t easy. In fact, for many of us, it may be the most difficult part of running our childcare business. But what would you say if I told you that there was a science to how you worked with your staff? Would you believe me if I told you there was a way for your childcare centers to have retention rates higher than the industry average? Well, there is!

According to a HiMama survey, 68 percent of for-profit child care organizations ranked labor as their top risk. Sixty-five percent ranked talent and recruitment as their top priority.

Do you know the cost associated with replacing a teacher? 

According to PeopleKeep.com in a 2016 study, the typical cost to turn over an employee working at $10-$13 per hour is $3,328-$4,326. This is a very low estimate that does not include the additional costs of other staff and management training and investment in benefits.

Add to this that child care has a nearly 40 percent turnover rate, according to a recent Childcare.net evaluation of the industry. If you have a total employee population of 60 employees, this would translate into $79,872 spent annually on lost staffing costs for a childcare business…not to mention the potential costs associated with possibly upset families, lost enrollments, diminished productivity and stress in the workplace.

We found a way to buck the trend with our Walk The Line approach. The theory we have is that all people, including employees, have an unseen “line.” This is the line of no return. When someone makes the decision to leave a relationship (whether is it a romantic relationship or a professional one), if you asked where that line is, it is very difficult to express. But what they do know is when someone has crossed the line. I’m sure you can relate to this yourself in all types of relationships.

The challenge becomes this: What are both parties willing to put up with before the possibility of parting ways becomes an option? Will the employee become disengaged and start to look for work elsewhere and possibly even tarnish the reputation of the employer? Or will the employer will become frustrated and look to replace the employee?

Inspire! Care 360 firmly believes that employers need to set clear expectations that are based in sound company values and are embedded inside a “Recruit, Hire, Onboard, Manage and Reward” Employee Lifecycle. With this, both the employer and the employee will push that line further out and are less likely to reach a breaking point.

So what is a value? Values are the fundamental principles that your childcare business is built upon. It is your stable ground. It is why you are in business.

Example of value statements could be:

  • We ready amazing children for life.
  • We are flexible and resilient—especially in the face of adversity.
  • We smile often and try to find fun in what we do every day.

These values are the guiding principles of your organization. You can then determine what you expect from your staff. Expectations need to be clear, documented, agreed upon, and have an established timetable.

We understand that values and expectations are not always easy to set up or follow regularly because we also own and operate four for-profit, infant-to-school-age programs in Western NY. What we learned is that if you have implemented an easily repeatable support structure that it can take a major weight off of your team.

Independent childcare owners (as well as some franchisees who lack back office support) desperately need to stop the revolving door with staff. They need a framework for delivering an amazing culture. Today’s new teachers expect a desirable work environment. According to Careercast.com, to retain and attract younger employees, your business needs to mention an accessible culture.

Your desire to deliver an amazing culture is apparent from the beginning when a new hire is exposed to a repeatable hiring and growth processes. This is not only a huge time saver for your admin, but also a cost savings when reducing turnover.

It’s a harsh fact that in this industry we simply cannot pay our teachers a salary above the average. But what we can do is offer an Amazing Culture. We can engage them and put them on a path for growth and development.

Knowing now that your incoming and existing teachers/administrators are looking for a great culture fit, as well as opportunities for growth and development, would you currently be able to provide them with this? If you aren’t, you are setting yourself up for high turnover rates and continuing a cycle that so many other childcare businesses experience.

But what if you could provide onboarding with mentorship, a structured path for development, and establish goals and rewards?

If you commit to delivering an Amazing Culture, you are building your center for a marathon…not a sprint. Your childcare business will thrive and grow from the inside out with increased enrollments and a stellar reputation. Happy teachers make happy kids who in turn make happy parents. Those happy parents go out into the community and brag about their amazing childcare and that drives not only new business but also your standing in the neighborhood. That makes happy administrators and owners.

Anthony A. D’Agostino is the Founder and CEO of Inspire! Care 360. IC360 offers its Premier Partner members advisement, tools and support to Engage Staff, build Brand Identity, focus on Time and Cost Efficiencies to support your production of an Amazing Culture for one exceedingly low membership investment. Mr. D’Agostino also owns and operates Inspire! Learning and Childcare and Inspire! Crayon Campus in Western NY. He has also been a leading Executive Principal with companies such as Ernst and Young, Pearson Education and Xerox Corporation, implementing practices in areas of Human Resources, Adult Training and Development as well as Employee Engagement and Communication. Learn more about IC360 at Inspirecare360.com.

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