Since most afterschool professionals do not make a high wage, motivating them to do a good job, even when you cannot pay them what they are worth, is very important. Unmotivated employees can be biggest threat to the existence of your business. The employees are the livelihood of your program's success.
First, you must give your staff the tools that they need to be successful. Ensure timely orientation, training, and development of your employees. Training is a vital part of the childcare industry and helps the teachers stay up-to-date in all new regulations and policies affecting the childcare industry now. It also reduces mistakes and carelessness. Parents and children can become very attached to and/or detached from the teachers that come into contact with them everyday so training, great customer service, and a love and respect for children is key.
A few ways to make your employees feel important is through incentives and praise. These things don't have to break your budget.
- Staff could earn days off
- Implement an employee of the month
- Write them a thank you note or just say thank you
- Publicize successes throughout the program in meetings or memos
- Purchase their favorite candy bar or soda and have it for them when they show up to work
- Purchase some tubs of ice cream for lunch
- Talk to them on a personal level and let them know what they are doing is appreciated
- Recognize and celebrate birthdays, births, and other life events by having a cake or another treat
As you know all employees are different and will respond to different things in different ways. Praise and training are just a couple of ways to get your staff to take note and meet your expectations. You can manage employee's performance by establishing high standards, praising, delegating, coaching, counseling, taking appropriate corrective action, and modeling professional behavior. If there is a performance issue, take the initiative to identify, prevent, and resolve problems. Give and accept constructive criticism, listen, and respond appropriately.
Remember, it is very important to be consistent and timely in incentives, praise, training, and/or counseling.
Crystal Varner is the Assistant Coordinator of KidzU, the before/afterschool program of Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District in Grapevine, Texas.