For Business

Plan ahead for retaining and motivating childcare staff

In this article, we run down the most important aspects of planning ahead for retaining and motivating childcare staff in order to foster the most positive learning and care environment.


Reducing staff turnover and increasing employee retention is important for any employer but is perhaps most important in the childcare industry. Parents are more likely to put their trust in an organisation (whether that’s a school, nanny agency or OOSH staffing agency) if the staff are consistent, happy and productive in their roles.

Children form attachments to the adults in their lives and educators are no different, so if they are often leaving or changing, this can affect the quality of their learning. And of course, high employee turnover is costly and inconvenient for the employer in more ways than one. In this article, we run down the most important aspects of planning ahead for retaining and motivating childcare staff in order to foster the most positive learning and care environment.


Ensuring that childcare staff feel motivated to perform at their best and remain in the oftentimes challenging world of education is to show that they are valued with meaningful recognition and benefits in place as soon as they start. You could set up a reward program for outstanding performance or simple activities such as a weekly get-together for lunch or after-work drinks. Or, you may take a more wide-reaching approach and implement holiday bonuses.

By ensuring that employees know that you appreciate all of their hard work and by demonstrating you're willing to set the time aside to appreciate them will make them feel valued and more satisfied in the workplace. Even just ensuring you have the time within the week to chat with employees about how things are going and thank them for their work can go a long way to achieving this. This is closely related to good leadership, which we will come back to later.

Work-life balance

Working in childcare can feel like an overwhelming job, especially for OOSH staff or on-call nannies. Being available at the last minute to cover for others, or having to spend personal time planning lessons and resources, is exhausting, so fostering a good work-life balance is vital. Without it, burnout is more likely to occur.

Encouraging work-life balance could take the shape of implementing a comprehensive employee well-being programme to remind workers to take care of themselves and their own mental health. This could be provided alongside a family support service that ensures employees with children have the capacity to still come to work and do something for themselves. Organisations could also offer discounted childcare rates for staff to ease some of their financial burdens.

Good prospects

No one wants to feel like they are stuck in a dead-end role with no prospects beyond their current job. Creating an environment that has plenty of opportunities for childcare staff to progress not only shows that you're a caring and comprehensive employer, but it also encourages staff development within your organisation and increases motivation to achieve more.

For example, you could outsource training days, organise health and safety courses, offer further qualification opportunities, or develop a leadership programme. All of these show staff that their role leads upwards, boosting motivation. Preparing your existing staff for senior roles within your organisation also saves time on the recruitment process.

Shared values

Creating a positive working environment that retains and motivates staff is likely to begin by simply ensuring that everyone knows the values of the organisation and is on the same page. Make sure all employees understand the goals and visions that they should be working towards and are reflected within the services that you deliver. Explaining to employees how they are supporting the future of the organisation can also make them feel like part of a valued team. Staff meetings, clear mission statements, and lists of values can all help towards this.

Good leadership

Of course, none of the above can be achieved without outstanding leadership. Think about how you will motivate staff and be consistent with all of the initiatives you begin so that you are best prepped going forward. However, it’s not enough to just drive motivation and be a figurehead of decision-making. Good leadership requires you to build connections with your team of childcare staff.

Being cold and unwelcoming is likely to make staff feel alienated, undervalued and disconnected. This could lead to problems going unsolved, causing dissatisfaction and encouraging staff to look for other jobs. Having a positive relationship builds trust, where you can take any suggestions or concerns on board and adapt accordingly, making workers feel appreciated and a part of a wider team.