Is software the best solution for your Early Years staff?

From staff retention to staff management and wellbeing, software might be just what you're looking for
Software for your Early Years staff
May 23, 2022
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In a rush? Here’s the quick run-down: 

  • We've all heard of the struggle to maintain and recruit staff. It's a difficult one, but there are so many things you can do to help the staff you do have, and create an atmosphere of trust and openness.
  • So what can you do in your day-to-day routine make sure staff are heard, valued, and supported within the walls of your setting?
  • It all comes down to the tools you use, and it turns out software can be incredibly useful in nurturing and developing your staff relationships.

Nowadays, staff turnover in the Early Years is at an all time high, and employers across the country are at their wits' end. But here comes the big question: Why are so many Early Years staff members leaving not only their places of work, but the field entirely? 

There are a whole host of reasons, from salaries to the lack of recognition for the hard work Early Years professionals put in day in, day out. However, quite a bit of it boils down to poor general wellbeing. 

For many, the stresses of the job outweigh the joy and fulfilment that makes Early Years practice so rewarding. The budget isn’t magically increasing, and we can’t add more hours to the day.

So what to do?

First thing’s first: ensure the staff you do have feel supported, valued and listened to. 

There are a lot of ways to do this, but comprehensive software is definitely one of them. It’s not the only solution, but the tools you’ll have at your fingertips make communicating, supporting and nurturing staff relationships are unmatched when it comes to staff retention. Let’s take a quick look as to how going digital can alleviate the stress, and give you a helping hand in retaining and nurturing your staff. 

Pile of folders as opposed to early years software

Reduce frustration over tedious tasks

There’s no getting around administrative paperwork. Attendance documentation, child and parent information, enquiries, invoices, billing, scheduling, keeping track of staff hours - the list seems never-ending. However, it’s a vital part of working in the Early Years.

If we take a quick look at software, you can gather all of this work into one location. Easy to access. Easy to edit. And easy to set up so information automatically updates and transfers.

If you can cut down on tedious and time-consuming tasks, it frees up more time and resources that your early years practitioners can invest into connecting with the children.

Practitioners pursue a career in the Early Years because they’re passionate about helping children learn and grow - not to drown in paperwork every single day. So if they’re finding themselves battling through bits of paper, there’s a good chance they may reconsider if the Early Years is right for them. 

You can also easily record and track children’s progress with software. If all this information is stored in one place and is easily accessible, it makes future lesson planning faster and simpler for your staff, which gives them more time to focus on the children and reduces stress.

Early years staff discussing rotations

Nurture staff and management relationships

When it comes down to it, the relationship you have with your staff members affects their wellbeing. A trusting and supportive relationship can go a long way in retaining staff and ensuring they’re happy in the job that they’re doing.

You may be thinking that software couldn’t possibly help with that. But management tools can easily ensure that everyone’s on the same page. You can monitor attendance, see which rooms require more or fewer staff members to stay in ratio without overburdening staff. Or use automated graphs and charts to see the best times to schedule breaks for practitioners. 

It may all sound like admin, but the potential of software to connect you with staff is quite huge. You can use these digital tools to show staff that you care, and that you’re always aware of their needs and limitations in the setting.

For example, staff can:
  • See their own schedules at all times through an app so they can stay up to date on changes 
  • Sign in and out, submit sick days or holiday requests
  • Access collected data to see what is or isn’t working
  • Easily reach out directly to you if they have any questions or concerns

It’s a fantastic way to solve problems right away- before they become larger issues. And giving staff the power to do so much on their own within the software gives personal responsibility and independence, which, as you know, will help them feel respected as professionals.

The bottom line is, if they’re comfortable, confident, independent, and can communicate with you easily, there’s a much higher chance they’ll come to you with issues and concerns instead of throwing in the towel.

Reducing parent pressure

We’ve all experienced pressure from outside the setting - like a parent with a new list of questions every single time you see them. They’re usually looking for a lot of reassurance, as well as constant updates throughout the day. 

Of course it’s understandable - it’s difficult to be away from your little one the whole day and not worry! Or fret over the activity they’re doing and if they need three different types of suncream. Reducing parent worries comes with the job. But asking a staff member to give a lot of extra attention to parents, often outside work hours, adds extra strain.

If staff are getting pinged left, right and centre, it can easily cause stress and burnout if they can’t ever ‘switch off’. A comprehensive early years software, however, can reduce the communication gap between parents and providers, comforting the parents and nurturing the staff’s wellbeing. 

Parents can get immediate access online or through their phone to see updates, photos, videos and observations. And a lot of software lets parents update their child’s information in-app, whether it’s medical, dietary, a scheduling conflict, or an observation from home, so your staff immediately have it. 

And how does this help? If questions are answered before a parent even has a chance to ask them, that’s more time and energy practitioners can spend on the children, and fewer things they have to worry about when they are off the clock. A win-win for everyone.

Practitioner using early years software

Is software for you?

Carefully choosing your software can do absolute wonders when we’re talking about retaining your staff and making your early years provision a wonderful environment to work in.

With more communication, more autonomy for staff and managers tools that show them how much they’re valued and supported, you’ve got a great chance of making your early years setting a place staff won’t want to stray from. It means less stress and burnout, and a happier, more rewarding job experience for your early years team. Who wouldn’t want that?

To round off, here are a few key points to bear in mind if you’re not sure software is the best route to go down for your setting:

  • It can reduce tedious and time-consuming tasks by consolidating administrative paperwork into an easy to edit and access online program. This frees up time and resources for early years staff to focus on the desired and fulfilling task of caring for the children and their education.
  • You can better organise staffing and scheduling to give your staff member more independence, minimising the need to micromanage, and establishing a more open and trusting relationship. 
  • You can streamline parent communication and provide them with all the relevant information to alleviate their worry and concerns.

The big ideas

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Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.

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UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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