How do you help your staff harness their commitment and motivation in order to become more engaged?
Every school knows that a key to the success of an Outside of School Hours Care (OSHC) program is the staff running the program. As the largest employer of OSHC staff in the country, Camp Australia’s National Operations Manager, Rosa Piteri, has some tips on attracting and retaining quality educators.
Tip #1 – Wait for the right people
It is a common trap in recruitment across all industries that employers settle for the best available candidate rather than waiting for the right candidate. This is particularly so if there is a need to urgently replace a departing coordinator so that the program can keep operating in a compliant manner. This may save some short term pain but it will cause problems in the longer term.
This is clearly a headache if you do not have a pool of qualified staff to draw upon as Camp Australia does, however there are agencies that can provide a short term solution until the right person can be found.
Tip #2 – Attract the best people
Attracting the best people is the only way to end the waiting game for the right candidates, and it begins well before the advertisement is placed. It starts with a clear role definition. Great OSHC staff members are fantastic with the kids, but rarely like the administration and compliance burden that comes with OSHC. The key to attracting the best staff is to do everything you can to ensure that they can focus on the children in their care.
In order for schools to achieve this it might require having many of the administration and compliance functions undertaken by the school finance and administration team. At Camp Australia our educators are supported by teams who handle all aspects of recruitment, training, staff rosters, bookings, billings, government compliance, fee collection, financial assistance for families, and the provision of food and resources. Educators are not distracted by administrative tasks or difficult conversations with parents, and this all aids in retaining great team members. It also enables us to recruit, train and develop people whose career focus is working with children – exactly the people you want to have caring for the children at your school.
Tip #3 – Provide career paths
Changes introduced by the National Quality Framework require OSHC staff to be trained educators, or at least educators in training. Many of them are looking to further their careers within the child care or education industries. While running an individual OSHC program at a school provides excellent job satisfaction and opportunity to develop skills as educators, it can also be an isolated role for some and is often looked at as a stepping stone. The key to establishing stability of staff in OSHC programs is to provide a career path for these individual staff members.
For schools this can be achieved by providing opportunities for OSHC staff to work within the school day in a range of roles such as integration work and teacher’s aide. By doing this the OSHC staff can improve their professional development and obtain a greater sense of belonging. At Camp Australia we are committed to providing career paths for all of our OSHC staff including offering a career path framework and a commitment to recruiting for senior operational roles from within the existing Camp Australia team. We also provide regular network meetings and online discussion forums so that staff can discuss their roles, challenges and successes with their peers and be part of a larger team.
Tip #4 – Value staff as individuals
As every school principal knows it can be lonely at the top. An OSHC service, although a smaller entity than a school, the same sense of isolation and weight of responsibility for others can weigh heavily on OSHC coordinators. It is important to ensure that their individual needs are also being met, particularly as the truly great coordinators are empathetic and caring for the kids can take a strong emotional toll at times.
Regular contact and support is key to ensuring that good staff stay happy and fulfilled in their roles. Ensuring that meetings are part of a regular routine and taking the time to get to know the individual will build a strong relationship that can be relied upon when times get tough. It also ensures that the individual team members feel valued beyond the pay-cheque.
Tip #5 – Engage staff in the school community
Great OSHC staff love people and enjoy being part of something bigger. Involving them in broader school activities like fund raising events, school carnivals or sports days is a great way to create strong bonds with the school community. It also provides opportunities for them to share experiences with the kids who regularly attend OSHC outside the OSHC environment introducing them to friends and family that the kids talk about on a regular basis at the program.
It is often said that when people leave a job it is in three stages – first the heart, then the head, then finally the physical departure. Engaging staff emotionally in the workplace extends their time with you and your community. Camp Australia actively engages staff in the school community as well as the broader Camp Australia team to ensure that they feel valued and part of something worthwhile. When the organisation’s primary aim is to make kids smile, it is pretty easy to feel good about who you work for.
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