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Happy Staff, Happy Kids: The Impact of HR in Creating Positive Early Years Environments

May 15, 2024
3 minute read

Imogen Edwards, Redwing Solutions, HR For Early Years

The 20th May each year is International HR Day. This seems like a great day to consider the ways in which effective HR in your Day Nursery or Pre-school can impact your employees in a positive way. Here’s four areas of HR practice that make a real difference.

Well-being and Job Satisfaction

In England, the Early Years Foundation Stage requires employers to consider their employee wellbeing strategies. There is a clear benefit in recognising that whilst we all have mental health, we will not all experience, good mental health, all of the time. We’d recommend that one of your HR policies is a Wellbeing Policy which sets out how the employer will support employees with their wellbeing. Remember it’s not what you write down, but rather how you make your employees feel that really matters here. Words are good but actions are better. One of the ways we have seen employers embrace wellbeing is to promote good mental health and wellbeing among their employees. Mental health ambassadors receive additional training to help them spot the signs that someone might be struggling and provide help and signposting.

Professional Development

One of the key aspects of working in Early Years is the requirement of continuing professional development. There is always something new to learn, skill to master, information to retain. HR has a role to play in encouraging professional development and to highlight the benefits to the employer, employee, children and parents of employees working in what we call in HR terms a Learning Organisation.

Employee Engagement

Another HR tool is that of employee engagement. Having a motivated, engaged workforce leads to a positive work culture. Currently many Early Years employers express concern that employee morale is low and look to HR for ideas to improve employee engagement. We would recommend you constantly work to build the team, rebuild, and build some. Team building should be fun and informative as it helps being retain information. Exercises in Staff Meetings don’t need to be expensive, some of the simplest team building exercises are very cheap indeed. My personal favourite is “Cane You Do It” involving two rows of employees, an 8ft garden cane and the idea that only fingertips must remain on the can as you reduce it to the ground keeping it entirely level. Any dips and it returns to its starting position.

Constructive Feedback and Support

Finally, this International HR Day, I’d like to mention the importance of constructive feedback. You may have heard of its relative ‘constructive criticism’, but this is feedback that aims to build the employee by being constructive. From a HR perspective we encourage Feedback by Questioning. This is where the Line Manager supports the employee to give themselves feedback by the effective use of questions. Very powerful stuff and so impactful to help people be reflective in their practice, which as we know is a key aspect of early years education in this country.

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