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How to Retain Early Years Staff

Our Director of Early Years, Rageena, talks us through how best to retain staff in early years

A lively party scene with a diverse group of people waving at the camera. in the foreground, performers in colorful carnival costumes entertain the crowd in a warmly lit venue with hanging lights.

Recruiting and retaining skilled early years staff remains a concern for employers in the sector. 

For various reasons, there is a limited pool of passionate, skilled and qualified staff. This, coupled with a highly competitive market, presents an ongoing challenge for providers. Whilst recruitment strategies are important, it is equally crucial to focus on retaining existing staff. Employees are constantly seeking more in terms of job satisfaction, career progression, and recognition. It is our responsibility to retain our current staff as well as attract new talent in order to secure ongoing education for children. 

Losing Early Years Staff

Losing staff to other early years providers is disheartening, but it’s even more concerning when they leave the sector entirely. For some, the experience they have with us is their first exposure to work, so it is essential for us as employers to actively create a rewarding, enjoyable, and positive experience that discourages them from seeking opportunities elsewhere.

A joyful female teacher surrounded by young children outside a school, laughing and engaging with them as they gather around her enthusiastically.

How to Retain Early Years Staff

Address Their Needs

During the interview process, candidates, regardless of experience level, often inquire about two key aspects: opportunities for career growth and the values upheld by the company. They make their needs clear from the start, so it would make sense to address these and ensure they are an embedded part of the offering. 

Value & Support Them

Once they join our organisation, staff members should feel valued and supported. This can be achieved by providing a comprehensive induction program and personalised development plans thereafter.

It is undeniable that Managers have many responsibilities when running a setting, and it can be easy for staff development to fall down that list of priorities. But it is important to invest time in supporting ongoing professional growth, developing effective communication with teams, and providing feedback to recognise skills and promote development. By doing this, not only will employees be encouraged to remain with the company, but by receiving continuous upskilling, they are directly enhancing the quality of care and education provided for the children. 

A teacher wearing glasses reads a picture book titled “in the meadow” to two young children in a classroom, with educational posters in the background.

Deeply Embed Values & Workplace Culture

When it comes to instilling company values and fostering a positive culture, solely relying on communication during recruitment and onboarding is not enough. It is essential for these values to be deeply embedded across staff teams. Inductions provide an opportunity for further exploration and understanding of the company values ensuring all staff are aligned from the start of their journey. 

However, it doesn’t stop there. Sustaining the message requires ongoing efforts such as regular events, meetings, and communication platforms that consistently reinforce the importance and relevance of these values to the company’s vision. 

Lead By Example

Those in leadership roles at any level play a crucial part in this process by leading by example and embodying the values in their actions and decision-making. Leadership training programs should equip leaders with the necessary skills to foster an open and collaborative work environment, ensuring that the values are deeply ingrained throughout the teams. 

Ongoing Training

There is also a benefit in ongoing training programs for staff at all levels explicitly emphasising values and providing practical guidance on applying them in daily work and interactions.

Recognising & Rewarding

Of course, recognising and rewarding those who consistently align with these values reinforces their message and encourages others to follow suit. 

Establish our Own Culture of Appreciation

The Early Years sector and the work we do, still struggles to gain recognition from the wider world, so it is crucial for us to establish our own culture of appreciation and sense of worth. We must ensure that each employee feels acknowledged and valued for the impact they have on children’s lives. 

By fostering an environment that cares about the staff experience, we can inspire them to stay committed to and find fulfilment in their jobs, ultimately resulting in staff wanting to pursue long-term careers in Early Years. 

Together, by implementing these strategies (and more), we can secure the future of the sector by retaining our staff and ensuring the continuous education and well-being of children.



Director of Early Years

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