Dealing with nursery staff issues

Deciding on the right number of staff is probably the biggest challenge for any nursery owner. Staff costs have a significant impact on the budget you have to work with, and on the quality and the success of the nursery itself. And due to the various adult-to-child ratios, it is not always straightforward to figure out the magic number of staff required,on an annual basis. Whilst there is a general trend that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the busiest days in any given nursery, you as the nursery owner have to ensure that you do not over-employ people throughout the year. 

We all know that continuity and a great team of nursery staff can make a nursery successful. No parent likes to see high staff turnaround. You have to remember that parents talk, so if they are not satisfied, they will simply take their child elsewhere. 

So how best can you tackle this staffing issue? There are a number of ways nurseries manage this:

  • Some will have higher fees to make sure they always over-employ by at least two extra staff
  • Others hire lot of temp staff to cover themselves
  • Others invest great sums of money in team-building efforts and offer bonuses to staff to show their appreciation. Some also reward those employees who take very few sick days
  • A combination of all of the above will likely result in reliable staff who love their team and what they do

However, even if all the above is in place, unexpected things happen and nurseries have to be ready for that. Therefore, it is crucial to build a good relationship with an agency who can help you with both temporary and permanent staff, and to make sure you have a solid contract in place with the people you employ. 

A tell-tail sign that your nursery nurses are great at what they do is when parents try poaching them. Quite frankly, it is not surprising that often nursery staff become nannies in a private household. It means more money and fewer responsibilities. So, it is worth making sure that when you hire a new member of staff, you safeguard yourself from this happening, by having it added to the contract. You can also include it in the Terms and Conditions for the parents. 

Once you have that sorted, you can look at sick days, holidays, tube strikes and other unexpected things. This is where a good staff agency comes in handy. Again, it is better to shop around than to compromise on the most affordable one: you need to find an agency who knows your business and industry, and has your best interests at heart. They also need to be able to provide you with good staff at short notice - even if it’s the night before or the morning of the required day.


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