One of the best ways to keep your preschool or child care program growing is employee retention. Here are five ways to keep your best teachers in the classroom.

It costs time and money to replace employees, especially good ones. Having experienced teachers leave your program can also cause strain on families and children who have built relationships with that teacher, and existing employees that have to take on extra work. Given this, retaining your employees should be a priority.

1. Pay above-average salaries

One of the most obvious ways to retain your top workers is to offer better-than-average salaries and excellent benefits. This can lock employees in and encourage them to stick around for the pay and perks alone.  Do some research into what other programs pay and offer better salaries for the hard work your teachers do.  If your business is too small to offer a healthcare plan, then offer to reimburse employees for a portion of their healthcare plans from the Oregon insurance marketplace.  Include paid vacation days, sick days, and make sure you are compensating your employees for time spend doing classroom prep work and material making. 

A well-compensated and engaging culture will make employees more likely to stay in their jobs long term.  You’ll also spend less time and money looking for new hires and interviewing. The recruitment process can be costly, so avoiding it as much as possible can be a positive thing.

2. Allow employees to speak their minds

While it might seem small, creating a culture where employees can freely speak up – within reason – can keep employees engaged and wanting to stick around. Many employees may not want to speak up for fear of retribution, so it’s important to make sure workers feel comfortable calling out things they’d like to see changed.

3. Show appreciation and respect

On top of pay, make sure you regularly show your teachers that you appreciate them. This can include publicly recognizing employees on their achievements, celebrating birthdays, giving bonuses, and providing positive reinforcement.

Employee appreciation can sometimes fall to the side, but it’s an important part of any business’s employee retention strategy.  Show your employees you care about them, whether it’s as small as a handwritten card or as grand as a huge bonus. Employees need to know that you’ve got their back.

4. Encourage input and feedback

Employees want to know that you’re listening and really hearing their feedback. Early childhood educators are often dealing with challenging behaviors from students, difficult parents, and constant multitasking.  They want to feel heard and may have suggestions on how things can run smoother, or on how children and families can better be served.  Set up policies and time for meetings and check-ins with your teachers.  Crete a safe space for employees to speak their mings, and then respond to employee feedback in a timely fashion.

5. Invest in teacher performance

As your employees develop their skills, track employee performance over time to identify what skills they have and which they lack or need more support in. Then work to invest in those employees through teacher trainings, ORO trainings, curriculum development, and other programs that will allow teachers to develop applicable skills for the classroom.  These could include things like sponsoring staff to enroll in early childhood education college level courses so that they can work toward a degree, obtaining a Montessori teaching credential online, or a weekend workshop on pre-k garden education.

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