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Debunking Myths About What Child Care Center Employees Want: A Procare Webinar Recap on ‘The People Factor’

May 16, 2022

This post was originally created and published by Procare Solutions on April 11, 2022. You can find the original piece here. It is reprinted here with permission from Procare.


When it comes to hiring the best employees, two myths abound: that job candidates ONLY care about incentives and benefits, and about the pay they’ll receive.

“Pay matters. Definitely. But it is not everything,” said Caroline Jens, an early childhood education consultant who founded and is CEO of Child Care Biz Help. She consults with child care centers across the nation to help them strategize on growing their business, retaining employees, recruitment and business operations.

She spoke at a recent Procare Solutions webinar about how “the people factor” can help child care centers recruit and retain top-notch staff.

Staffing is a topic she is well versed in. Caroline worked as the executive director of an independent child care center that had a high turnover rate and low enrollment. In less than two years, she reduced the turnover rate from 45% to under 15%, grew the business from one location to two and tripled profits.

So let’s take a look at how she debunks two big myths about how to find, and keep, the best staff at your child care center!

Myth #1: Job Candidates Only Care About Pay

“We have to transition from this idea that if we pay more, we’ll get better employees,” Caroline said.

Caroline knows that employees leave when they find another job paying an extra 50 cents or $1 an hour. Even so, pay is not the main reason employees leave a job. The top reasons they quit are because of a less-than-ideal relationship with a manager, a poor workplace culture and feeling isolated, she said.

A great leader will get buy-in from employees that they’re in the right place, and a leader with the right mindset will send all the right messages to potential candidates.

“You need to fall back in love with the work you do,” she said.

Caroline sees a lot of burnout in owners and directors, and that mindset negatively affects their ability to hire and retain great employees.

“Remember a bigger purpose,” she said. “We all got into this for a reason.”

She said that when child care center leaders are focused on creating a great work environment and remembering what they wanted their schools to become, they can rally their teams around their ideas.

And that focus trickles into reaching the best job candidates.

“When you’re excited and love the place you work, it will appear that way in every employment ad you write, every phone interview you conduct … and it will be evident in the community,” she said.

When you don’t have the right mindset, it comes across in the hiring experience, she said.

And if your work experience includes having fun at work – something Caroline prioritized with her child care center’s employees – and a job candidate is turned off by the examples of activities you do to brighten the day of your employees, that’s not a bad thing.

“If someone isn’t going to smile based on the work experience I want them to have, I don’t want them working for my company,” she said.

Myth# 2: Lots of Bells and Whistles Will Attract and Retain Employees

Of course you should offer employees competitive incentives and benefits. But do it in a way that doesn’t come from desperation.

How do you do that? Do a few things well, said Caroline.

“Instead of all the bells and whistles, let’s focus on connecting with these employees and with these prospects at every level of the interview process,” she said.

A big part of that is finding common ground with job applicants, she said.

Share a story about yourself to create a connection. Be vulnerable and ask interview-appropriate questions to find out more about an applicant’s life story.

Questions to ask include what groups a candidate belongs to outside work, the most inspirational moment or most pivotal decision made in his or her life and what would make the candidate happy at the end of the day.

“You can learn something about every person and find common ground,” Caroline said.

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