5 ideas to boost staff motivation

Published on Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Last updated on Tuesday, 31 December 2019

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We regularly interview early childhood education and care providers about their work, and overall the energy, passion and commitment displayed is extraordinary.

Educators go above and beyond their job descriptions to ensure children are nurtured and encouraged and given the support they need to grow and develop to the best of their ability.

It would be fair to surmise, therefore, that most early childhood educators and carers are self-starters who keep going because they love their work. However, as you well know, the early childhood sector is physically and mentally exhausting and there are few positions, which ask so much of staff and deliver such low financial returns.

Ebbs and flows in motivation levels are to be expected, especially at this time of the year, when holidays are a distant memory and the New Year stretches out ahead. Here are five ideas for motivating your staff this month and in the longer term:

Offer training/professional development

The start of the year is the best time to plan and schedule your staff-training calendar. Do some research about the courses on offer and think about what your staff members will enjoy and benefit from. Training opportunities are highly valued by staff and investing in professional development boosts staff retention and ensures your service continues to benefit from industry best practice.

Provide regular feedback

While formal performance reviews are a useful way of planning career development and managing issues, a great way to kick start motivation levels is to provide direct and specific praise whenever you notice staff members doing a good job. Regular constructive feedback demonstrates that you notice and appreciate all the small efforts made during the day and will work to ensure those efforts continue.

Get in there

There's no doubt early childhood directors face unrelenting pressure during the work day, mountains of paperwork, parent queries and planning. However, nothing motivates staff like seeing the boss 'in the trenches,'. To this end try to join your team on the floor with the children every day. Lead by example with enthusiasm and energy and you will inspire a good performance from your people.

Trust and empower your people

Micro-managers are the bane of workplaces everywhere and make life intolerable for many employees. Don't be a micro-manager! As long as your team are informed about their responsibilities and aware of what they need to do to meet those responsibilities, trust them to do their job and leave them to it, don't be surprised if they over deliver and be patient and supportive if they fall short.

Give them the tools they need

Early childhood educators need a range of supplies to ensure they can do their job well. Be the manager who provides the tools and resources necessary to inspire and motivate your staff to go above and beyond the ordinary. If finances are tight then write a grant application or ask your parent community to support you through donations.

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