The best employees will always be in demand, and when managing a Nursery setting in a highly competitive marketplace, it can be difficult to recruit and retain the best employees.  This week’s blog will look at some simple techniques for how you can first recruit, and then retain the best employees in your Nursery.

Recruit and Retain

With recruiting, the first decision you need to make is deciding whether you will undertake this process directly or whether to utilise a recruitment agency.  If you choose an agency, you should always try to utilise a specialist agency who have a solid knowledge of your market.

An agency is likely to already have an existing talent pool which can be a real time saver, and a good agency will take the time to understand your business to ensure the candidates are right for you.  However there will obviously be a cost implication to using an agency and ultimately,  no-one understands your needs and requirements better than yourself.  Therefore, for the purposes of this blog, we will assume that you will be taking the direct approach to recruit and retain the best employees in your nursery.

Your Recruitment Journey

To start your recruitment journey, you need to ask yourself what ‘best fit’ means to you?  You want to recruit and retain the best employees, but does this mean the most qualified? Is it a particular skill set that you are searching for or are there specific qualities which would enable people to settle into an already existing team?

Ask yourself as many questions as possible to ensure you start the recruitment process with total clarity on what you require from your perfect candidate, and this will ensure that you recruit the right candidate for you.

Having this clarity will make the next part of your job much easier and lay the foundations for you to recruit and retain the best employees in your nursery.  It is important that you write a clear job description and person specification, with as much detail as possible.  Not only will this help keep you on the right track with your search, it should also help to ensure the applications you receive are from appropriately qualified candidates with the correct skill set.

The use of social media has now meant that it is easier (and cheaper) than ever to advertise your vacancies to a much wider network of people.  Using trade press, websites and job sites to advertise your vacancy through can again help lead you to your ideal candidate.

Don’t forget that you may already know your perfect candidate very well!  It is always worthwhile advertising your vacancy internally as the perfect candidate may already work for you in a different role and be looking for such an opportunity.  They would already tick a box in being comfortable within your team and your setting.

Candidate Led Market

We currently find ourselves in a candidate led market, therefore do not hang around!  Have clear application deadlines and once the deadline has arrived, move quickly to select your preferred candidates for interview and invite them in before any competition does.  Competency based interviews are perfect to test a candidates experience and to understand how they would respond to varying scenarios which can be critical in a nursery setting.

Finally once you have found your perfect candidate, make sure you secure them quickly with a formal offer and once you have the offer accepted, ensure you are legally compliant by providing an employment contract to the candidate.

The Nursery HR People offer a painless and hassle free way to provide your employees with fully compliant employment contracts using an on-line contract facility. This allows you to draw up a personalised contract in 6 minutes which can be e-mailed to the candidate, electronically signed and returned to you same day.  It really can be as simple as that! To find out more about this solution watch this short video

Retaining Your Staff

Having invested your time and energy into recruiting the best staff for your setting, you now need to focus your energies into retaining your staff.   The best employees will always by nature be in demand.  Whilst you cannot control what offers may be put to your employees by others, what you can control is what you offer.  Therefore do not waste your energies worrying about competition, rather invest your energies into making your setting the best it can be and focus on how to recruit and retain the best employees.

Retention actually begins with recruitment.  By having a solid recruitment and onboarding process in place as we have discussed above, you are more likely to employ the right people in the right positions, which will ensure your staff settle quickly and feel content.

Communication is another key component.  There is a misconception and a fear around employee performance reviews but if done correctly these can be a valuable way to keep your staff happy and for them to know that they are valued.

Be open in what you expect and need from your employees – weekly staff meetings can help with this.  Welcome upward feedback and regularly seek to get your employees views on how to solve any issues your setting may have, and how to improve your processes.

Ensure that your employees are rewarded for outstanding work.  Have a clear incentive and reward process in place.  Be clear with bonus structures, in order that your staff know what to expect from achieving goals.

A great benefits package will also be well received, and if resources are tight, these can be phased to grow with your business.  To make a benefits package work for your setting, you should tailor it to the specific needs and requirements of your team, ultimately the rewards do not need to be grand – it is more important that they assist the employees to better manage the work/life relationship.

The staff retention levels in your setting will always be higher if your employees feel valued, and investing in their career development and offering training is a certain way to achieve this.  There is a concern that once employees have received training that they will then use this to further their careers elsewhere, however investing in an employee’s training actually makes them feel valued and invested in your setting.  They should be allowed the opportunity to use what they have learned to offer new ideas on existing processes in your setting.

Stay Interviews

Finally, rather than waiting until you receive a staff member’s resignation, and enquiring at an exit interview why they are leaving, pre-empt this by offering stay interviews.  This works especially well with longer term members of staff, invite them for a stay interview and find out why they choose to stay within your setting, what they like, what you are doing well as an employer.  This will help you to understand where as an employer you are achieving and indeed highlighting gaps in areas where improvement may be required.

I hope that the above will give you some ideas on how you can recruit and retain the best employees in your nursery and once you have secured your perfect team, how best to keep them.  Ultimately happy, valued employees are your secret to success.

If you require any further help in this area or have any questions which we can support you with then please don’t hesitate to contact us.  We are always delighted to hear from you!


Fiona Tyson

Operations Director

The Nursery HR People

Less HR More Learning!

01509 833121

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