Continuity of care is one of the most significant factors in quality of care, but the issue is even deeper than that. A high staff turnover rate has a negative impact on the program through:
- Lack of continuity for children, parents, and co-workers
- Decrease in staff morale
- Cost of hiring and training new staff
- Parents withdrawing children from program
If we look at reasons often cited for staff leaving, we can come up with some ideas to retain our own staff.
- Pay—Pay is probably the most frequently cited for leaving a program or the field in general. Sadly, most program managers don’t have the financial ability to pay staff what they deserve and still provide reasonably affordable fees for parents. But, we can make sure that we are staffing the program effectively (i.e. not overstaffing), controlling other costs as well as possible, and ensuring that our parent fees are fair to both the parents and the program. In running our budgets effectively, we may find that we can afford to pay our staff a bit better.
- Benefits—Even if we can’t provide full benefits for our staff, perhaps we can provide discounted care or a stipend to reimburse part of the cost of privately-acquired benefits.
- Training—Overall, people feel better about their careers if they feel that they are successful at what they are doing. We can help our staff feel (and be) successful by providing a well-planned training program which includes financial incentives for completing training. Encouraging staff, and perhaps paying the fees, to attend professional conferences and/or continue their own educations.
- Positive work environment—A positive work environment can go a long way in compensating for lower pay. Make sure staff feel valued. Provide planning time during the work day. Support staff when there are behavior problems with children or difficult situations with parents. Give staff opportunities to feel ownership in the program—provide expertise to another staff member, write newsletter articles, provide suggestions for program improvement, etc.
Reducing turnover is truly a win-win-win situation. The program quality will be better, staff members will experience more job satisfaction, and parents and children will benefit.