How to Motivate and Retain Child Care Staff

June 01, 2021

How to Motivate and Retain Child Care Staff

How well do you appreciate your staff? How much do you invest in their professional development? When was the last time you told them a simple ‘thank you’?

If there was a list of under-appreciated and underpaid employees, you bet child care staff will be seated at the top. Despite the huge impact they make and absolute commitment and dedication, they receive little to no appreciation and grossly underpaid. No wonder, there has been a surge in the turnover rate of child care staff.

It won’t do any harm to make your staff feel appreciated. Make them understand you know the time and effort they put into their job. Try and connect with them on a human level. Show them you care and never make them feel unappreciated.

Let me show you a few ways to do just that.

  1. A fair workload

This is sad but a recurring observation in most early education centers. Even with the adult-to-child ratio in the Child Care Act, it is very common to see child care employees struggling with their workload. That’s simply because children are a lot of work. Staff eventually burnout and leave. You can mitigate this notorious issue by ensuring each staff member gets a fair workload. If need be, employ more. Kick out the idea of cutting back expenses by overworking a few staff. You will lose them eventually.

  1. Use your words

One of the important lessons we teach children is to use their words. Well, it’s time we had the talk – learn to use your words. That’s right. No one knows what’s in your heart until you say it. If your staff is doing well, it is not enough to simply take notes and walk by. Why not say thank you – with a warm smile. Make them feel appreciated and they will do more. You will be surprised what a simple THANK YOU can do.

Don’t assume they know you appreciate them. Use your words!

  1. Invest in their professional development

Child care workers have the least flexibility and time for professional growth and development. It will make a huge difference if you provide an opportunity for leadership growth and professional development.

Even outside the childcare industry, stats show that employers who provide access to professional growth and training tend to retain more staff compared to others. This might be the missing piece of the puzzle you’ve been looking for.

  1. Allow flexibility

If child care work is not the worst in terms of flexibility then it certainly ranks among the worst. Granted, you can’t help it. It is the way the job is designed. But you can make things a lot easier by giving them a bit of freedom. It could be freedom to design their own curriculum or lesson plan or even flexibility with work hours. An hour or two for break will be very much appreciated too.

  1. Lend a helping hand

I get it – you are the boss. But it won’t do any harm to lend a helping hand. Most of your staff are overworked. It may not be in your job description to help out in the classroom but it will go a long way to show you care.

In addition, be sure to provide all the supplies they need for smooth work. Imagine how frustrated they will be when they have to keep writing or complaining before getting necessary supplies. The goal is to make life easier for them. One way to do that is to make sure they have all they need to do their job.

Bonus Tip!

  1. Give rewards

When was the last time you rewarded a staff? Staff of the month? Most punctual staff? Anything? Appreciation comes in various ways. It is beautiful to use your words. However, you can take things up a notch by giving out rewards to deserving staff. By so doing, you are encouraging amazing staff to keep up the good work and challenging lagging staff to pick up the pace. See, a win-win for you!


Everyone deserves to be appreciated. Child care workers deserve it even more. Try out these tips and see the turnaround at your center. Thank me later!


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