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Staff Engagement

  • 1.  Staff Engagement

    Posted 03-06-2019 02:53 PM
    ​​Teacher/staff turnover seems to be a fact of life in early childhood programs, but does it have to be that way?  Once you have navigated the challenge of attracting staff to your program, how do you help them feel supported during the initial onboarding process and throughout their first few months of employment?  How do you ensure staff continue to be engaged?

    As an executive director of a large, campus-based program, I have found the process of creating a Program Professional Development Plan to be extremely helpful.  It has helped focus attention on activities that are supportive of new and continuing staff.  We now do the following to assess staff engagement:

    1. Focus groups comprised of staff (teachers and assistants - no more than 10) with diverse experience(s).
    2. Surveys that measure organizational climate.
    3. Training needs surveys that list possible topics but that also provide opportunities for staff to share their ideas for topics (and their expertize by presenting workshops to their peers).
    4. Annual teaching staff surveys that include what we should continue doing, stop doing, and start doing.
    5. A peer mentor program.
    6. An Individual Professional Development Plan, where staff are invited to reflect on their experience and identify goals uniquely tailored towards supporting individual professional growth.
    Each item above gives an insight into what is working well in the program and what we need to improve on.  We use it to create program goals.  What do you do?

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    Lorraine Breffni
    Boca Raton FL
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  • 2.  RE: Staff Engagement

    Posted 03-06-2019 03:48 PM
    It must be that time of year! As we began 2019 we took the time to reflect on where we've been, assess where we are and plan for where we want to go. As childcare providers we need our front facing staff, the executors of our services and facilitators of our programs, to be in good spirits, mind, and body. We have a responsibility as employers to ensure we do our part in supporting their personal and professional growth and development. So what does that look like for us?

    I am the onsite Regional Manager of a client based corporate mega center. We just completed an expansion that brings us to a capacity of 650. I have over 115 staff members and with our growth, the number will increase. Our community and culture while serving this volume are very important.  We demonstrate that value by doing the following:

    • Annual Employee Experience Survey's that speak to not only the work environment but the health and engagement of the employee. We also create intentional action plans in which employees play an active role in.
    • A division year-long succession program for rising leaders. This supports our commitment to internal hiring and building our bench strength.
    • An employee-led committee which also serves as a liaison and support to all employees.
    • An efficient and effective recruitment process which is the start of our "retention" program, followed by an onboarding process that includes both administration and teaching staff.
    • Stretch opportunities for those seeking a challenge or additional knowledge and experience. Our teacher's success is the center's success.
    • Monthly staff meetings, hours of free training and networking with sister centers
    • A plethora of benefits for both full and part-time employees.
    • Annual Performance appraisals and real-time feedback.
    • Flexible work schedule
    • FREE EDUCATION UPON HIRE!


    We are always looking for ways to move the needle on recruitment and retention. New employees take time and money. Repeating the process for the same position takes that much more. It is better to use the resources to train and retain rather than fire and hire.



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    Rosalind Johnson
    Regional Manager
    Bright Horizons
    Atlanta, GA
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  • 3.  RE: Staff Engagement

    Posted 03-06-2019 04:02 PM
    I would love to hear more about your year-long succession program for rising leaders.  Do you have resources that you can share?  Like you, we also have a number of employee-led committees (safety, fundraising/donor activities, communication, etc.).  ​With over 160 classroom staff, it is my ethical (and social) obligation as a program leader to support the success of each and every individual - and yes, some staff need more support than others, and that is okay.  However, sometimes I have to activate that managerial courage and mentor/coach a staff member into considering another career opportunity!

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    Lorraine Breffni
    Boca Raton FL
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  • 4.  RE: Staff Engagement

    Posted 03-06-2019 04:18 PM
    Absolutely! We call it Bright STEPs *Select*Train*Educate*Prepare. We meet once a month and utilize all of the Center and Executive Directors for our presentations (which stretches those individuals). It's also supported by the Regional Manager's. Includes the presentation, networking lunch, professional reading and discussion and some homework. By the end of the year participants have a better view of the bigger picture and where their career path can go. It's been quite successful in building our bench and making successors available for some key positions. I'll email you the information. It is branded but you can review the topics. We modify the topics based on our audience (classroom teachers, lead teachers, managers and assistant directors etc). I'm a firm believer of coaching up or coaching out. Both can be done with kindness, courtesy and respect.

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    Rosalind Johnson
    Regional Manager
    Bright Horizons
    Atlanta, GA
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  • 5.  RE: Staff Engagement

    Posted 04-17-2019 02:15 PM
    I am very interested in learning more about your annual employee experience survey. If you would be willing to share or at least go over some of the items that you asked of your employees that would be wonderful.  I feel like I can either ask to little or to much and I want to gain the most information I can to improve our staff's experiences. We are currently navigating between our long term staff and the younger generation of teachers and I know it is important to ask the right questions because the answers will vary greatly.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated.


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    Jackie Price
    Director of Operations
    The Goddard School of Dublin
    Dublin, Ohio
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  • 6.  RE: Staff Engagement

    Posted 04-18-2019 02:31 PM
    ​Hello Jackie,

    I'm just getting into this and I am going to make the assumption (YIKES!) that you were asking that question of me. We gather our employee's thoughts annually through a corporate sponsored and calculated Employee Experience Survey by a third party vendor. It's done anonymously and covers several areas of importance for an employee: satisfaction and contentment with work environment, engagement at the center, longevity with the company, career alignment and growth, health and well being, financial soundness and savvy (as it pertains to use of great resources our company provides), and support. As a Center Director, I'm sure you would agree, some very big and important buckets for employee's. Because it's human nature to focus on things that impacted you a lot during the year or reflect on what did not bring you happiness, we also try to do pulse surveys throughout the year. We have our suggestion box that stands at the ready daily and ongoing and our education coordinators, depending on what's happening in programming, will create a survey monkey (very brief, multiple choice) to see where people are and how they are feeling within a particular topic. The greatest piece about employee surveys...providing the results! We can't just ask and then not follow back up. We also can't ask and not have the people we asked to be a part of the action plan. Here in lies another great opportunity to impact one of those buckets and get a senior or seasoned employee as your "Engagement Leader" who will meet with a few of your staff and create and action plan. These folks then move into the role of ambassador and become your message carriers. Many Center Director's may feel that an employee survey will just add to an already full plate. I say utilize your folks, especially the squeaky wheel ones! Then they will know exactly what is being done to include your teachers and staff in making the center community and culture a better place. It takes the energy of everyone and what a fabulous stretch assignment for a developing leader in your center to take on.

    Need ideas for types of surveys?
    • Meal Service and kitchen staff survey - who better than the teachers to know what works and what doesn't?
    • Teacher Engagement - how do you want to build our community?
    • As a teacher what support do you need from your supervisor?
    • How do I want to be Appreciated?
    • How do I want to be communicated with?
    • How are we doing? (Pick no more than five hot ticket items within the center)
    • Well Being / Well Aware survey - are your teachers ok?

    I hope that helps!
    Sincerely,
    Rosalind

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    Rosalind Johnson
    Regional Manager
    Bright Horizons
    Atlanta, GA
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  • 7.  RE: Staff Engagement

    Posted 04-19-2019 07:43 AM
    Our program has administration staff that meet monthly with questions and concerns from staff. We have a teacher inservice day at the end of the year where we go over how the year went, suggestions for improving issues and/or suggestions for form changes, new mandates coming in the future, etc. ​Every time we have an inservice throughout the year, we have to fill out an evaluation form. At the bottom of the form is a place to list or suggestion future training topics that we would like information on. Staff have a yearly evaluation and then are required to fill out a Training Development plan to be reviewed by our Human relations specialist. Our program also does a yearly Program survey assessment (PSA). This is done by administrative staff and the teachers and parents are randomly selected and are different each year so that we get a wider view during the years. We do a yearly parent survey to see what are parents have to say about the program. We have an education mentor on staff to help us with development, questions and on the educational end of the program. These are some of the things our program does to try to keep the program successful and to help staff.

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    Sue Miller
    team leader
    Child Development Center
    Hawarden IA
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