16 Strategies for Reducing Educator Turnover

One of my proudest achievements as a nominated supervisor for over seven years, was retaining educators. As a community based service, in a low socio-economic area, with many curve balls thrown our way on a daily basis, it would have been easy for the service to become like one of those revolving doors in a fancy hotel. But we didn't. Despite the challenges, we maintained the same core team for many years (with the exception of one particularly challenging year when four of us fell pregnant at the same time - myself included). 

 

It's a simple fact - early childhood education has a pretty high staff turnover rate. There are a few key reasons why this occurs generally: 

  • As a profession typically dominated by women of "child-bearing" age, many educators will take parental leave and of those, a number will opt not to return. 
  • Low wages. With the opportunity to earn more money in many other professions - some often not as emotionally or physically taxing - many educators leave to improve their own financial situation. 
  • Burnout. As we know, this is a role that requires a lot from us. To be present for countless children and families, day to day, to give them the best of yourself, can be exhausting. Some educators simply just can't do it any more, and so, they leave the sector that they love (or at least once loved). 

 

Over the years, I have seen many services become like those revolving doors, to the point where parents comment that they don't feel like they know the people caring for their children. Our aim should be that parents feel comfortable and confident with the people that they are entrusting the care of their child to, but if they don't know who that person will be from day to day or week to week, that poses a real problem. 

So, how do we reduce educator turnover? 

Clearly, every service and every situation is different. While we may not be in a position to pay them well above award wages, or to send them on an all expenses paid staff retreat, there are plenty of simple low-cost (or free!) things that we can do:

Take care of your educators.

  1. Provide nice spaces (indoors and outdoors) for them to recharge while on their break.
  2. Cultivate a culture of kindness - encourage educators to engage in Random Acts of Kindness within the team. 
  3. Ask them what they need.
  4. Recognise when they are struggling and step in with support
  5. Ensure that they get their required breaks
  6. Gift all educators with a new water bottle and encourage them to drink lots of water throughout the day. 

 

Invest in your educators

  1. Provide access to quality resources and reference materials
  2. Provide opportunities for them to network with others
  3. Provide them with opportunities to share their knowledge
  4. Provide opportunities for professional learning and development
  5. Support their ongoing learning and studies

Reward your educators

  1. Leave little notes of gratitude for your team
  2. Offer small extras like 5 minutes extra lunch break, or a bonus leave day each year. 
  3. Take your team out to celebrate big occasions
  4. Provide a simple dinner for staff meeting nights
  5. Set goals with your team and reward the achievement of these goals with a small token of appreciation. The best gifts are not the ones that cost a lot - but the ones that are thoughtful!

 

 

You can probably think of a whole bunch of other strategies - and I encourage you to do just that! The aim is to create a workplace where educators feel supported, seen, heard and valued. When we feel like that, it makes it very difficult to leave! That's not to say that there won't be times when educators won't move on, but we are far more likely to retain people when we put the effort into nurturing them - enabling them to better nurture others, such as the children and families who are at the core of what we do. 

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