3 Common Problems Managers Face in Child Care (And How to Solve Them)

Bryn Tardent-Powell

11 November 2020    |   

When managers come to work the last thing they want to do is to get caught up in tedious and avoidable problems related to running the centre. The health and learning of children come first, and time spent devoted to unnecessary administrative or operational tasks only serves to take away from that. So you can get back to doing what you do best, I’ll be going over the three most common problems managers are facing in child care and what you can do to solve them.  Problem #1: High staff turnover High staff turnover is a problem that is all too common in the Australian child care industry. A nationwide survey found one-in-five child care workers intended to leave their job in the next 12 months. High turnover can lead to an overall less qualified workforce, which in turn erodes the quality of child care being provided. A high number of staff exits can also affect children’s ability to form trusting attachments.  The child care industry has been fighting an uphill battle to secure higher rates of pay, one of the contributing factors of high staff turnover. Additional factors behind this trend include adverse working conditions and difficulties in career development.  The solutions: Reducing employee turnover can be a challenge for even the most competent managers. If you want to retain your most valuable employees you’ll need to provide competitive compensation and benefits that exceed the prescribed award. Providing staff with recognition and encouragement when they develop their skills is essential in making employees feel valued and respected in their position, employees who feel they are making a valuable contribution to the business are far more inclined to stay long term, than their less satisfied counterparts. Finally, child care is a uniquely challenging industry to work in, and managers will need to go the extra mile when it comes to retaining great staff, prioritising employee happiness is a key factor in reducing burnout in an industry where is it all too common.   Problem #2: Too much time-consuming admin As the business grows, so does the paperwork. When it comes to managing one or even several child care businesses you’ll find almost the exact same sources of administrative burden across the entire industry. Managing enrollments, staffing levels, rosters, timesheets and payroll are among the largest contributors to the administrative burden, and the one thing they all share in common is that they aren’t value-adding tasks.  The solutions: By automating the above tasks, managers free up time and resources to focus on tasks that add value to the business, such as improving the quality of care provided and marketing to improve enrollments. Cloud-based processes have quickly become the industry standard,  from rostering to attendance tracking and qualification management, the systems that run your business play a huge part in reducing paperwork. For example, an efficient rostering software can help managers cut down this task from a couple of hours to just a few minutes. Automatic rostering has become an efficient way to manage staff, because why do the same thing over and over again, every time? While rostering is a large source of administrative burden for managers, time and attendance tracking is the other side of the coin. Software can also be used to overcome this problem, with a digital clock in system, managers are saved from the guesswork of who’s worked and when. Not only does this make timesheet approvals a seamless process, it also prevents time and wage theft on a bigger scale. Problem #3: Growing revenue and increasing profitability Increasing revenue can be a challenge for any business. The child care industry has been hit relatively hard by the pandemic, as parents look to cut costs in their household budget. Juggling revenue and profit while trying to maintain a quality service and enrollment is the single biggest challenge child care managers are facing right now.  The solutions: The simplest thing you can do to adapt to COVID’s financial impacts is to reassess your budgeting. Redefining your budget will give you a clear overview of your centre’s cash flow and aid you in making better-informed decisions on where you allocate your spending. Once you’ve redefined your budget and have a clear idea of your current financial position, child care businesses need to leverage all available grants and subsidies. The government has provided a number of additional subsidies during COVID that can aid profitability.  Finally, investing in a great CCMS and staff management platform is proven to reduce costs as well as administrative burden. By investing in CCMS and staff management systems you can easily manage compliance requirements such as educator-to -child ratios, qualification management and wage compliance.  Tanda helps hundreds of child care centres across the country manage their staffing requirements and award compliance, put our system to the test with a 14-day free trial.

When managers come to work the last thing they want to do is to get caught up in tedious and avoidable problems related to running the centre. The health and learning of children come first, and time spent devoted to unnecessary administrative or operational tasks only serves to take away from that. So you can get back to doing what you do best, I’ll be going over the three most common problems managers are facing in child care and what you can do to solve them. 

Problem #1: High staff turnover

staff turnover

High staff turnover is a problem that is all too common in the Australian child care industry. A nationwide survey found one-in-five child care workers intended to leave their job in the next 12 months. High turnover can lead to an overall less qualified workforce, which in turn erodes the quality of child care being provided. A high number of staff exits can also affect children’s ability to form trusting attachments. 

The child care industry has been fighting an uphill battle to secure higher rates of pay, one of the contributing factors of high staff turnover. Additional factors behind this trend include adverse working conditions and difficulties in career development. 

The solutions: Reducing employee turnover can be a challenge for even the most competent managers. If you want to retain your most valuable employees you’ll need to provide competitive compensation and benefits that exceed the prescribed award. Providing staff with recognition and encouragement when they develop their skills is essential in making employees feel valued and respected in their position, employees who feel they are making a valuable contribution to the business are far more inclined to stay long term, than their less satisfied counterparts. Finally, child care is a uniquely challenging industry to work in, and managers will need to go the extra mile when it comes to retaining great staff, prioritising employee happiness is a key factor in reducing burnout in an industry where is it all too common.  

Problem #2: Too much time-consuming admin

time consuming admin

As the business grows, so does the paperwork. When it comes to managing one or even several child care businesses you’ll find almost the exact same sources of administrative burden across the entire industry. Managing enrollments, staffing levels, rosters, timesheets and payroll are among the largest contributors to the administrative burden, and the one thing they all share in common is that they aren’t value-adding tasks. 

The solutions: By automating the above tasks, managers free up time and resources to focus on tasks that add value to the business, such as improving the quality of care provided and marketing to improve enrollments. Cloud-based processes have quickly become the industry standard,  from rostering to attendance tracking and qualification management, the systems that run your business play a huge part in reducing paperwork. For example, an efficient rostering software can help managers cut down this task from a couple of hours to just a few minutes. Automatic rostering has become an efficient way to manage staff, because why do the same thing over and over again, every time?

While rostering is a large source of administrative burden for managers, time and attendance tracking is the other side of the coin. Software can also be used to overcome this problem, with a digital clock in system, managers are saved from the guesswork of who’s worked and when. Not only does this make timesheet approvals a seamless process, it also prevents time and wage theft on a bigger scale.

Problem #3: Growing revenue and increasing profitability

Increasing revenue can be a challenge for any business. The child care industry has been hit relatively hard by the pandemic, as parents look to cut costs in their household budget. Juggling revenue and profit while trying to maintain a quality service and enrollment is the single biggest challenge child care managers are facing right now. 

The solutions: The simplest thing you can do to adapt to COVID’s financial impacts is to reassess your budgeting. Redefining your budget will give you a clear overview of your centre’s cash flow and aid you in making better-informed decisions on where you allocate your spending. Once you’ve redefined your budget and have a clear idea of your current financial position, child care businesses need to leverage all available grants and subsidies. The government has provided a number of additional subsidies during COVID that can aid profitability. 

Finally, investing in a great CCMS and staff management platform is proven to reduce costs as well as administrative burden. By investing in CCMS and staff management systems you can easily manage compliance requirements such as educator-to -child ratios, qualification management and wage compliance. 

Tanda helps hundreds of child care centres across the country manage their staffing requirements and award compliance, put our system to the test with a 14-day free trial.

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How much do full-time staff really cost?

Being in the business of managing staff costs, we often hear people say that casual staff just cost so much more than their full time equivalents. I mean, that extra 25% is a killer, right? Especially for staff who work a fairly consistent schedule each week, it’s almost like free money. For a while there I went along with that, not really giving it much thought. But today the thought struck me – casuals miss out on plenty of benefits afforded to full and part timers, so are they really better off? I decided to investigate further. What follows may surprise you. First – how many days in a year does a full time employee work? Weeks in a Year: 52 Working Days in a Year: 260 So far so good. We’re going to ignore the 1 or 2 days that we’re off by, for the sake of a nice round number. Next, let’s look at this full time employee’s entitlements, in days. Annual Leave: 20 (4 weeks) Personal Leave: 10 (2 weeks) Public Holidays: 10 We’ll assume a 7.6 hour work day and 17.5% leave loading. So how many hours of leave are we paying? Annual Leave – Base: 152 Annual Leave – Loading: 26.6 Personal Leave: 76 Public Holidays: 76 Total Hours of Leave Paid: 330.6 Earlier we calculated how many days of work one can work in a year, now let’s subtract leave taken to get a more accurate figure. Days of Leave Taken: 40 Actual Days Worked in a Year: 220 Actual Hours Worked in a Year: 1672 Divide 330.6 (hours of leave paid) by 1672 (hours worked) and we get 19.77%. Remember, we are comparing this to the 25% loading paid for casual staff. So from this perspective, yes, your full time and part time staff are still cheaper – but only by 5.23%. And even that number is probably on the low side. We ignored long service leave and maternity leave because they are a bit more unreliable. Both they are also costs (or accruals) that can definitely add up! When you take into account the fact that you only have to pay casuals when you need them, it’s easy to see why more and more Australian employers are turning to casual staff. According to the ABS, this has been growing steadily since the 90’s, and today over 1 in 5 jobs in Australia are casual.

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Easter Penalty Rates 2015 — What you need to know about paying staff

Easter is coming up soon, and that means two things! A new season of Game of Thrones to feast on, and – perhaps less excitingly – public holiday rates to pay staff. As a business owner, accountant, or bookkeeper, it’s important to be aware of how public holiday rates over Easter and ANZAC Day should be paid in your state. First, let’s see when the holidays will be in 2014. You might be surprised! If your business is open on any of these public holidays, you’ll need to pay staff the appropriate public holiday rates. You should check your award, which will tell you exactly what multiplier or penalties to apply, often under a Public Holidays section. A common multiplier is 2.5x. Some businesses pay staff salaries, or pay casually “above award”. Public holiday penalties still apply! If you have a contract, it should cover this – check with Fair Work if you are unsure. Staff who don’t work on a public holiday If you have full or part time staff who should have worked on any of the weekday public holidays – Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Easter Tuesday in specific cases – they are still entitled to pay, even if they do not work. Generally you’ll pay at base rate for the hours staff would have been entitled to. Of course, if staff do work on the day, you’ll pay at a higher rate as dictated by the award (see above). But keep in mind: this only applies if they usually work on that day. For example, a part timer in Queensland who generally works Tuesday to Thursday probably wouldn’t get paid the public holidays because there’s no public holiday on those weekdays. Check your award/agreement to be sure! If your award dictates how rostered days off work, you should check to see if staff with an RDO on a public holiday are still paid. In some states, some kinds of businesses are not permitted to open on public holidays due to trading regulations. If this applies, you will probably still be required to pay staff who would otherwise work on that weekday. Again, if you’re not sure, it’s best to ask. Staff who work on a day that isn’t a public holiday Keep in mind that the rest of the award doesn’t shut off just because it’s Easter. For example, if you are in Tasmania and pay Saturday rates, you’ll still need to pay these on Easter Saturday (which is not a public holiday for you). Did you know… If an employee takes sick leave around a public holiday (eg. Thursday April 24 to Monday April 28), they still get paid the public holiday if they were otherwise supposed to work that day (ie. full/part time) If an employee takes annual leave, public holidays during the leave period don’t count towards their annual leave balance Public holidays do not need to be paid for staff on unpaid leave Staff cannot be forced to work on a public holiday if they have reasonable grounds for doing so. Common reasons include: the amount of notice given, family responsibilities (especially over Easter), and whether one could reasonably expect the business to be open on a public holiday. Tanda’s employee time clocks automatically interpret industry awards – including public holidays – so you can be sure you paid staff right, without tedious manually data entry Add the Fair Work Infoline to your speed dial, they are always happy to help. The number to call for any payroll queries is 131 394. Note: none of the above constitutes formal payroll advice. Always check with your accountant, bookkeeper, or Fair Work.

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Giving Employee Feedback: 7 Ways to Constructively Deliver Bad News

Wouldn’t management be so much easier if everyone just did their job? You might feel sometimes like your job description would better match that of a babysitter than a business manager. But the sad fact is, unless you provide your staff with proper leadership; productivity, efficiency, morale, and overall quality of work will suffer. Part of effective management is providing your personnel with feedback when they’ve done something incorrectly, or perhaps just less correctly than you would prefer. Ideally, you want to train your workforce to act as you would in a given situation. This takes time, patience, and consistent positive reinforcement. So how can you communicate to your beautiful and unique snowflakes that they’re not meeting your standards without alienating, offending, or irritating them? Here is a list of best practices that can help you deliver a difficult message in ways that will improve employee attitude, engagement, and performance. 1.      Focus on Positives Even if you’ve been stuck with the worst employee in the world, even if they come into work smelling like a Cypress Hill concert in un-ironed slacks made of organic hemp, you’ve got to find a silver lining. To be clear, this doesn’t mean sugar-coating the negatives. It just means balancing criticism with praise. Build employee confidence first, then present avenues for improvement. The thing to remember about creating a harmonious work environment is it begins and ends with being nice. The simplest gestures can prevent resentment, discontentment, and hurt feelings. Keep your employees happy, and you’ll be a much happier manager. 2.      Objectivity This can be tough. It’s important not to let your emotions get in the way of effective management. Subjectivity can get you into all sorts of trouble: favouritism, nepotism, and a plethora of other –isms worth avoiding. A cool head is needed for command decisions, plus your employees will reflect the attitudes you present to them. Come to work angry, and you’re likely to look out and see an office rife with cantankerousness. 3.      Always Deliver Negative Feedback in Person It’s a busy day, you hear a bad report, and you want to get it handled quickly. So you just shoot of an email with a textual reprimand. A very tempting scenario, but not the best idea. People can read into messages more or less than you intend. If there’s a problem with an employee important enough for you to respond personally, then it’s important enough to respond to it in person. 4.      Time your Feedback Correctly Timing is everything. You have to take the opportune moment. For minor infractions, or something of a sensitive nature (a conflict between employees for example), allow a bit of time to pass so that tempers might cool before addressing the situation. Similarly, don’t call an employee out in front of their peers. Wait for the right moment, when they’re not under scrutiny, to approach. You don’t want to embarrass an employee, and you never know what can get the blood running to someone’s cheeks. 5.      Location, Location, Location Along the same lines as timing, the location of a performance review can have a great impact on how receptive an employee might be to your suggestions. Go to an empty conference room, any neutral ground will do. 6.      Pay Attention to How You’re Being Perceived This means watching your phrasing and body language. Present problems in a sympathetic light, and avoid negative syntax: “I don’t think… You shouldn’t… This isn’t…” Maintain eye contact, without being creepy. Keep gesticulations, mannerisms, and movements calm and casual. Aggression is an animal instinct, don’t release the beast during a performance review. 7.      Be Clear With Your Criticisms, Leave No Room for Interpretation Convey your meaning quickly, clearly, and without ambiguity. Be direct with your employees, let them know exactly what you disapprove of, how they can improve, and if there’s a need for it: a warning as to what continued instances of the undesired behavior will result in. Alternatively, reinforce desired actions. If they’ve done anything right at all, mention it, and offer praise. Building an effective team is a complicated process, but armed with common sense and a healthy dose of positivity, you can put together an office environment that runs like a well-oiled machine.

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Bryn Tardent-Powell

Committed to helping business owners optimise their day to day practices through technology.

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Being in the business of managing staff costs, we often hear people say that casual staff just cost so much more than their full time equivalents. I mean, that extra 25% is a killer, right? Especially for staff who work a fairly consistent schedule each week, it’s almost like free money. For a while there […]

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Giving Employee Feedback: 7 Ways to Constructively Deliver Bad News

Wouldn’t management be so much easier if everyone just did their job? You might feel sometimes like your job description would better match that of a babysitter than a business manager. But the sad fact is, unless you provide your staff with proper leadership; productivity, efficiency, morale, and overall quality of work will suffer. Part […]

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