Recruitment challenges facing new childcare minister

June O'Sullivan
Friday, January 19, 2018

Welcome Nadhim Zahawi, the latest in a long line of childcare ministers.

Let's imagine we are going to have the perfect interview with the newest minister, with the sector being the interviewer.

Q. What is retention?
A. Well, according to the business dictionary its "an effort by a business to maintain a working environment which supports current staff in remaining with the company".

Q. Does retention matter?
A. Of course it does. Just from a financial perspective alone the cost of employee turnover is more than an apple turnover.
Generally it can cost six to nine months salary to replace an employee in recruitment, induction and training costs. Even in a sector of low pay that's still a lot of money. For the high earner some predict that it can cost as much as twice their annual salary, especially for a high-earner or executive level employee.

Q. What are main reasons people leave a job?
A. This is usually related to poor salary and benefits. Dissatisfaction in a role grows when employees feel that nobody values what they do. Staff turnover and an unsettled team lead to dissatisfaction with management, while lack of training and development opportunities, difficult journeys to work and lack of work/life balance also contribute to unhappiness in the workplace.

Q. What can we do to improve retention?
A. It is imperative that we create job satisfaction and address factors that cause staff to leave. We need to attract new people into the sector who bring joy and fun as well as the willingness to want to learn.

Q. What does job satisfaction look like in the sector?
A. We need happy and engaged staff who want to stay and continue, in order to cope with the recruitment crisis and training gaps.

Q. How can you help us to achieve a better retention rate than the current unviable 25% turnover?
A. We need fair pay for a fair job, to prioritise listening and to communicate with staff. Accept feedback and don't just toss it aside like an old jumper, take it seriously - oh and recycle the jumper! It's important that there are opportunities for employees to get involved, we need more funds for training, learning and development and to increase the number of positive mentors in early years. We must get rid of bad employees to let the good ones thrive, and we must move beyond the ridiculous expectation that just anyone can lead in early years - the necessary skills required to thrive in this sector will not be found in the Dummies Guide.

Q. What leadership will you show?
A. We value  commitment; resolve and perseverance and risk-taking - breaking conventions and developing new responses. We need to orchestrate a high-level plan that drives everyone toward the unified goal through motivate and encouragement. It is essential that we actively Listen and that we inspire staff to obtain the skills required to successfully achieve the colossal shared goal of great early education. This means getting the right people with a unique knowledge set to the table. Don't quit. See it through!

June O'Sullivan is chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation. This blog first appeared on the LEYF website

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