Sometimes, the answer is obvious.
You know exactly what sort of staff member you need, you know the right level of experience, the right personal attributes, how they like their tea. And you definitely know what kind of contract you’re offering.
But often, it isn’t so clear cut. That’s why we’re here, to help you when you’re operating in that grey area. We’re going to run through a bunch of different situations, and give you our thoughts on which option to choose.
OK, so we’re starting off easy. But when you’re looking for flexibility the obvious answer is to go with temporary staff. Whether it’s maternity leave, a seasonal increase in your register numbers, or holiday cover, if you know the start and definitive end date, you’ve got to go temporary. Bear in mind it’s worth establishing a good relationship with a temp agency so that you’ll have access to quick, flexible staffing whenever you need it.
Often the temporary option in businesses is seen as a cheap alternative to hiring somebody full-time. But that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to nurseries. With the fairly low costs involved in hiring an entry-level nursery worker, choosing to hire permanent staff makes more sense financially when you don’t specifically need a level of experience.
Not sure about how solid your recruitment process is? Poor choices to choose from? Not certain exactly what you need? Temporary is the answer.
Many nurseries in this situation will ask somebody to work as a volunteer. We’ve talked about this before. By asking someone to work for free before you hire them it’s a comfort blanket, but you’re starting off your relationship on the wrong foot. Instead, you can hire a temporary member of staff, and always choose to make them permanent if the relationship goes well. Normally agencies will give you an option for this in your contract, and you get more motivated staff members who you know will fit in if you do choose to drop the hammer.
But what if you do need someone with a little more experience or training? If you’re after someone who can get started and fire on all cylinders from day one, temporary workers are the answer. Not only do they have more experience than you might be looking at with a permanent hire, but they’ve done this before – it’s not their first rodeo.
The chances are that they’re far better at picking up on new ways of doing things and adjusting to a new nursery than someone who has worked at one or two settings for a longer time.
If you’re concerned about how you develop relationships with parents and your reputation in the area, you might be best to choose the permanent option.
We know that parent communication is super important. With permanent staff, they have the opportunity to develop closer relationships with parents and the key children that they look after. This is absolutely essential for offering a better service and improving the word of mouth referrals you’re getting in the local area.
What’s more, they’re more likely to have an interest in making your business a long-term success, as it is tied to their success too, and over time they will become an expert on your nursery, not just any nursery. Every nursery is different, and having staff who understand the ins and outs of your one can be very important indeed.
Following on from that last paragraph, if you’re concerned about having a much more motivated and engaged member of the team, permanent is probably the way to go. They are more likely to be thinking about their long-term career within the context of your nursery, and how they can develop within that environment. You can give them training that will make a difference to your nursery specifically, and they can better understand your teaching philosophy.
On the other hand, temporary staff may be more concerned with personal development and achievements outside of the goals of the nursery. That means they’re more likely to be disengaged in general.
There’s no doubt that you end up investing more time in a permanent member of staff. Whether it’s more in depth inductions, or training and planning as their employment goes on, they are likely to take up more of your time in part because they are generally less experienced than a temporary hire.
If you can’t afford to risk a new start leaving, temporary is the best option for you. After all, you will know exactly what you’re getting from a temporary member of staff. Agencies need to look after their reputation too, and so they can’t afford to send you members of staff who aren’t up to the level that they’ve told you.
Stability is important to different degrees at different nurseries. Sometimes you need a solution right now, but longer term stability is normally better for the growth of your business.
A high turnover of staff is unstable, both for your own team and the parents and children you provide care for. It can also be a waste of your time and money to have to constantly be training new staff. In the long-term, permanent staff offer stability and trust across your business.
Having staff in it for the long run is better for your team as a whole too. Cooperation and collaboration are hugely important in a nursery setting, and existing staff are far more likely to gel, share ideas and improve their teaching alongside permanent staff. It also gives you the opportunity to train and develop your staff based on your specific needs.
One advantage to temporary staff that many people don’t consider is the different perspective they can offer you as a manager. Sometimes you need to make changes to improve the way you run your nursery and temporary staff are generally more experience and normally have experience across a range of settings.
Build up proper relationships as soon as they come onboard and they are an invaluable resource of knowledge. Leave your own ego at the door, and you may find that they have an understanding of how other nurseries do things that could revolutionise your own setting. Whether it’s teaching, admin or management insights, you can use your temporary staff as more than just short term cover. They could change the way you run your business in the long run.
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.