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Strategies for Hiring and Improving Staff Retention at Your Childcare Center

“There are zero gimmicks when it comes to creating a culture. It is ridiculously hard, requires discipline, and you have to have radical self-awareness as a leader. There are zero shortcuts. It is hard work.” – Chanie Wilschanski

Instead of asking ‘how do I get my people to do this’, try asking ‘how do I design an environment that inspires my people to elevate themselves and whom do I need to become so that my people want to step up and elevate and inspire themselves so that we scale and we grow the company.’ 

Chanie has 3 key takeaways that you can start prioritizing in your childcare center today to improve staff retention.

How to Improve Staff retention at Your Childcare Centers

1) Balance is key: Set boundaries for yourself.

“There are going to be times in life when everything is a giant mess. That’s just how life is. There is ambiguity. There is uncertainty. There is an unknown. There is chaos. There is frustration. And then there's also joy, and gratitude, and appreciation, and confidence, and stepping up again. There's all of it.

You cannot selectively mute pain, ambiguity, or mute uncertainty…Part of growing is experiencing the human emotions that come with growth. And every human is going to experience self-doubt, frustration, shame, or imposter syndrome."

Instead, focus on setting boundaries.

“One of my strict boundaries is: from Friday afternoon at around 3pm, my phone is off. Until Sunday morning it is off. It is not on silent and is not on vibrate. It is off. Both my computer and my phone are off. It doesn't matter how big the emergency is. Unless you knock on my door, you can't reach me. I am unreachable.”

Everyone’s boundaries are going to be different. Find what works for you and when it works for you. If your current season of life is hectic and you simply can’t go a weekend with your phone off, try establishing a smaller boundary.

For example, don’t accept calls on your car ride to work and listen to soothing music during that time to ease some stress before you start your day. Simple steps towards prioritizing yourself will begin to make a big difference in how your team and enrolled families feel, as well.


Childcare staff

2) Designate one-on-one time with your childcare staff.

“I always like to start with one-on-ones with every single person. If you've never run a one-on-one before, understand a one-on-one is very different from a flyby conversation. Standing and talking with a teacher in the carpool lane is not one-on-one. That’s a flyby carpool conversation. A one-on-one is a scheduled meeting that exists in your calendar.”

Start by putting away your phone, closing your computer windows, and then closing the door. Staff retention involves valuing your team's time.

“Tell your assistant that you're not available for 30 minutes. Unless the building's burning down, you are not available. That is one-on-one. That is telling someone, ‘I see you. I value you. I appreciate you. And I took time out of my calendar to give my time, my dedicated focus.’

Schedule 30 minutes of time for every single teacher to meet with you one-on-one. If you're in a position where you feel like you can never close your door or turn off your phone for 30 minutes, you have bigger issues with trust, systems, operations… on a lot of other things. There should never be a school where a director can't close her door for 30 minutes without massive anxiety.”

To truly scale and grow, it’s important to understand how to delegate to team members based on their role, their ambitions, and their passions. Use this one-on-one time to determine the difference between helpers and leaders/managers.

family tour #1

Childcare worker

3) Initiate tough conversations.

“The fastest path to a great culture is having difficult conversations. Many people think of great culture as giving out $5 gift cards and buying big lunches. That's not culture. That's showing appreciation for doing hard work.

Culture is when people are ready to communicate and tear down their armor…culture is two people coming together and saying, ‘I want to be seen and heard; and when you spoke to me before I didn't feel that way’.”

Begin this process by asking your childcare staff team members the following two questions during one-on-ones:

  • What is the best part of your day?

  • What is the worst part of your day?

Even if you can’t fix or ease the worst part of their day, they will feel seen which is sometimes all we need. Staff retention sticks when your team feels heard.

family tour #2

Happy family

Happier staff, healthier workplace: Staff retention is essential to childcare success.

Leading a team of grown-ups is very different from leading a classroom of 18-two-year-olds. It may sound obvious but according to Chanie Wilschanski, it’s essential to remember that “what got you here doesn’t get you there.”

Listen to the full podcast episode from LineLeader's Podcast: All It's Quacked Up to Be. 🐥

Want to retain more staff, easier?

Check out this guide to boost staff retention

Download the Guide

Meet The Author

Sierra Rossing is experienced in Content Marketing with a proven track record in marketing strategy, graphic design, copywriting, and social media management. Sierra attended the University of North Texas where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and a minor in Spanish. Sierra is passionate about helping to grow companies and guiding them as they build their brand and establish their marketing message within their desired marketplace.

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