Hiring In What May Be The Toughest Childcare Labor Market Ever 

Having trouble hiring in what may be the toughest childcare labor market ever? Here's what we're doing about it.

Running a childcare center comes with great responsibility and no one runs a center alone. We have to find and keep a team—at least a core team. Per our conversations with owners across the U.S., here are some ideas that are working.

  1. If you think being in childcare has been tough through Covid, you should see people who have been on the front lines in hospitals, medical centers, walk-in clinics...almost anything in the medical field. They think childcare looks like a vacation. Our clients and other contacts in the industry have been hiring from the medical industry with success. Before you say it, yes there is a pay differential. However, when you can offer a less stressful position, an environment filled with children instead of patients and free childcare, you can hire medical professionals and that will stay for while without having to pay them the new standard of monthly or even weekly retention bonuses. One of our selling clients hired a pediatric nurse with just the tools mentioned above. Who doesn’t want to say that they have a pediatric nurse on staff? The pediatric nurse is a top of the food chain catch but remember there are lots of positions in hospitals and other medical facilities that are paid less. It’s also very helpful that the typical healthcare employee is educated and has a nurturing caretaker mentality, and that’s just what we want.
  2. Many of us have been throwing money at the problem, assuming with sound but possibly dated logic, that people go where the money is. That is always true to a degree, but it’s not the only reason people accept a new job. The quality of the work environment has become more important to the Millennials and Gen Z. I’m stereotyping a little bit, Millennials and Gen Z get their news from social media. We have contacts who are, not requiring, but asking their staff members to post about their job and how great it is to work in their center. This is bringing new hires into the center where they can also post and brag about their great workplace.
  3. At this juncture, you have probably been using an employment company (websites)...maybe several. We get good and bad feedback on the employment companies. The one that gets the most consistently positive feedback is Indeed. It doesn’t mean they will be great every time, but Indeed is the one that has been receiving the most consistently positive comments from the owners of centers and schools in the U.S.
  4. If you have colleges, junior colleges or trade schools in your area that teach early education (or anything else that draws our kind of people), recruit them right out of school or provide them with employment while they’re working their way through school.
  5. Once they’re on board, promote a positive and supportive working environment so you can keep them. It's essential to create a culture that encourages open communication, flexibility, collaboration, and appreciation. Your teachers and other staff members can be your centers greatest ambassadors. It also doesn’t hurt if you pay referral fees to your ambassadors.
  6. Assuming you are paying hourly, try to rotate three-day weekends (maybe once a month) into your scheduling for your employees who like the option. I realize that’s not always easy to do, but it’s easier than hiring someone else to replace them.

Staffing a childcare company isn't an easy task in this market, but it can be done. We have seen our clients utilize these methods, hire teachers and enroll the kids that were sitting on a waiting list, including one client that enrolled 50 children in less than 30 days.

As always, we hope it helps.

Brad Barnett, President BFS®