I have worked in the childcare field for 9 years and was a director for 5 of those years. One of the biggest challenges as a director is making sure your staff is happy and will make a commitment to the childcare center. The average childcare worker only stays at a center for 1 year; which is not a long time at all! Childcare workers are underpaid and have a lot of responsibility. One of the things that keep a center well run is staff with longevity. All of my staff members stayed at least 3 years which was wonderful!
How did I keep staff members happy and show them they were appreciated without spending thousands of dollars? The answer, very easy, I showed them appreciation creatively. What mattered was how I showed them appreciation. I made it a point to say thank you in some way to my staff almost every other week. Working at Houston Childcare Cervices was really fulfilling for my career as well. The staff members and the professionals with which is worked there were all passionate and dedicated towards their job. However, following these tips made me bond with them even more.
One way is I would personally hand out paychecks and say, “thank you I appreciate all of your hard work. Having your part of our team is what makes us a successful center.” Saying thank you can really go a long way when you are being sincere and making it a point to point out how they contribute to the success of the business.
A second way is I would bake something like brownies or cookies or pick up a baked-good to bring in as a treat. I would leave a note that said, “Thanks, you guys are doing a great job, enjoy!” The staff loved it and they appreciated being thanked for their hard work.
During the early summer or spring, I would bring in little seed packets and enclose them within their paychecks. This was another inexpensive way of saying I know you are working hard and I appreciate it. This also was a nice little surprise that really fit well with the season.
Another great way to thank your staff personally actually writes them a thank you note. This does not take a lot of time and it is a great way of showing that you as an employer are willing to take time out of your day to take notice of your employees.
Some other ideas are; bring in coffee or donuts for everyone, order a lunch meat platter and provide lunch for your staff, allow them to leave a half an hour early paid, an extra vacation day or small ornaments at Christmas time. Some great places for inexpensive items are your local dollar stores and Dunkin Donuts will often donate coffee or baked goods to small businesses.
The true key to being successful with appreciating your staff is to be sincere. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant. Make it a regular point to say thank you. I would do something at least twice a month. I know some people are super busy, but if you plan ahead, create a shopping list and make it part of your schedule you are more likely to fit it in. Remember happy staff means happy customers which means more business!