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Aug 23, 2021 6 min read

How to Stop (or At Least Slow!) the Revolving Door of ECE Staff: A Webinar Recap

Leah Woodbury By: Leah Woodbury

It’s a topic on the minds of every child care center ⁠— how to keep quality staff. And to do that, it means looking at many facets of your organization, including your culture and hiring.

“Recruiting goes hand in hand with retention,” said Tony D’Agostino, founder and chief executive officer of Inspire! Care 360, a child care management company, in a webinar sponsored by Procare Solutions. 

The webinar’s title was “How to Stop the Revolving Door of ECE Staff.” But Tony told webinar attendees that “slow down” was a more apt description than stop. 

He gave several tips for keeping current employees happy and finding new staff that will fit into the culture of your child care center. 

Let’s take a look!

The Cost of Replacing an Employee

Tony showed webinar attendees a slide of a screenshot of six employees and said that next year, you can assume that only half of them will be working in your school ⁠— studies show that staff turnover is between 40 and 50 percent. 

There are many reasons for this, including that some people are transient and others are heading back to college. 

“It creates a tremendous amount of churn,” he said. And that churn affects the children in your care and your ability to recruit.

He polled webinar attendees to ask them how much they believed it costs their schools for the turnover of a team member. Most said $3,000.

The typical cost to replace entry-level workers is 33 to 50 percent of their annual salaries. 

On the low end of that calculator, that’s a cost of $8,000 to $10,000 for you. And the cost to replace a director is even higher, Tony said. 

He showed this slide to further illustrate the financial impact of replacing staff, which we’ll dig into in the next section:

The Ripple Effect of Employee Loss

The loss of revenue is the biggest factor, as outlined above.

But the costs to your center could go deeper.

Loss of Families and Children

Let’s say you have a toddler teacher who is very popular, Tony said. She knows the kids well and parents love her. But she leaves after a year.

This makes parents wonder if they should keep their children at the school. They ask questions, including why the school couldn’t keep her and what else could be wrong with the school. 

Loss of Other Team Members

When one staff member leaves, other employees may start questioning why and wonder if they should consider leaving too ⁠— especially if the employee who left earned a raise by getting hired elsewhere. 

“That can create a bit of an avalanche if not managed properly,” Tony said.

Depressed Team/Low Performance 

And of course it’s sad to lose a staff member. But it goes further — it likely means other employees will be forced to deal with messed-up schedules and work extra hours, creating anxiety.  

Reputation in Your Community

If you lose several staff members, people start taking a different look at your school, Tony said. It raises many questions for potential customers.

And we’re already in a situation in which parents are walking into child care centers looking for care ⁠— and often, we can’t find staff members to provide that care, Tony said.

Secrets to Career and Culture

So what can you do? Tony said building a strong culture at your child care center is vital.

Culture isn’t one thing ⁠— you need to focus on several different elements:

Values: They are what you believe in and are critical to understanding what makes up your school.  Make sure the values of the people you hire match up with the values your center holds dear.

Belonging: “People want to belong. It’s human nature,” Tony said. Set clear and concise expectations and have a friendly and welcoming environment. Make sure your employees are invited to participate in events and decisions, and that they know about school activities, tours and enrollments. And communicating well about work schedules is key, he said. 

Benefits: He said most employees expect healthcare, paid time off, sick leave, flexibility and access to supplemental insurance. (Benefits are one of the many areas that his company can help child care centers with.) Offering child care, giving them their birthdays off, free lunches and swag also are “easy adds,” Tony said. 

Empowerment: How can we help staff members feel like they’re working in a place where they have some control over what’s going on and are not just told what do do? Tony said you must challenge employees, solicit honest feedback, not be too controlling and encourage entrepreneurship. 

Recognition, Respect and Rewards: Don’t make an Employee of the Month recognition something that’s in high rotation. Make it authentic ⁠— you know your team and catch them behaving greatly! Don’t make your employees afraid of you and don’t keep your distance. And don’t think of reward as only money. Things like assigning employees to a leadership team, sending them to conferences and even buying them tickets to a concert are meaningful gestures as well.

Learn More! 

Procare Connect Child-Staff-Ratio
Using software helps staff manage many aspects of their day, including tracking student-to-staff ratios, to make their jobs easier and so they can focus on the work they love of caring for children.

Click here if you’d like to listen to Tony’s entire webinar.

And we’ll keep offering you ways to keep learning and optimize your business! Don’t forget to subscribe to Procare’s The Child Care Business Podcast and please join us for the following upcoming free webinars held each month as part of the Thrive in 2021 series:

  • The Overwhelm Loop: Running Your Business So It Doesn’t Run YOU: On Sept. 15 at 1 p.m. ET, Kris Murray, president and founder of The Child Care Success Company, will tell you how to approach your business with a “systems mindset” and how to be a more productive leader in any ECE environment.
  • 9 Reasons Why Child Care Businesses Are Thriving with Systems for Operations and Management: On Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. ET, Andrea Dickerson, owner of IOwnADaycare.com, will share the foundational must-haves happy child care owners use for optimizing their organizational structure.
  • Get Your Child Care Center Ready for Tax Season: On Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. ET, Audra Wilson Russell of WATS CPA will give you tips on how to get your child care center ready for tax season. She’ll explain what areas of your financial statements to review and correct, as well as how to review your profit and loss statement for reasonability and discover the nuances on your balance sheet that could prevent the filing of an accurate tax return.

Register here to attend the webinars!

And if you’re a center not yet using Procare to simplify your staff management, we are here to answer questions to help you manage your business more effectively.

Request a free demo today!

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Leah Woodbury

Leah Woodbury is the head of content at Procare Solutions. Her job includes writing about topics that matter to child care professionals and finding ways to help them do their important work. She’s a mom of two who loves getting updates about what her preschooler is doing during the day via the Procare child care mobile app!

Leah Woodbury