With many nurseries fully reopened across the country, the attention is now focused how they can operate in a way which is safe and sustainable for both employees and the children.
Wellbeing and healthcare are making the headlines, and there is mounting pressure on all sectors to take a greater responsibility in caring for their teams.
Providing employees with outstanding wellbeing benefits can improve productivity and positivity. Many employees are reluctant to discuss their mental wellbeing with their manager or even other staff members. Therefore, it is crucial to provide your team with the privacy and sensitivity they need to be able to discuss any problems more freely. What the pandemic has taught us is that we are all walking through uncharted territory with new challenges to face, but also new opportunities to embrace.
Improving the day-to-day
NMT spoke to Connect CEO, Chris Reid who gave his insights on the importance of wellbeing in the workplace:
‘The mental and physical wellbeing of staff and children within nursery settings has always been an important topic on the childcare agenda, but it has arguably never had more of a focus than now.
‘With the Covid-19 outbreak having posed – and continuing to present – a wealth of challenges to the Early Years (EY) sector, more management teams are exploring ways to keep team morale high during these times of transition.
‘With nurseries reopening, there’s no doubting that there’s more to think about than ever before. Managing social bubbles, wearing personal protective equipment and minimising virus transmission risks are all among these newfound priorities, while simultaneously continuing to deliver high-quality childcare and education that supports child development.
‘Wellbeing measures could be work-specific – such as quick-fire group chats to share positive experiences and concerns – or could be more social, for example a weekly quiz to boost team camaraderie. But whatever it is, it needs to really make a difference in improving employees’ day-to-day.
‘Giving the gift of more time is a popular request – everyone wishes they could get more done. And this is why many settings are prioritising the digitalisation of some of their in-house operations, to minimise hours spent on lengthy paper-based admin and maximising the time available to focus on children’s learning.
‘But implementing wellbeing initiatives is not only crucial in helping childcare professionals to feel safe, supported and satisfied at work, it’s also the root of what fosters a wellbeing culture which extends outside the nursery setting.
‘If EY staff are physically and mentally supported, they will feel happier and more confident in the workplace – which will naturally have an impact on how they carry out their job. Children and fellow colleagues will typically be more engaged too, and parents will likely have less apprehension and greater reassurance about their toddlers being in nursery during these challenging times.’
At the end of the day, wellbeing benefits all. Employees are a teams’ best advertising tool. If they are content and happy that sentiment flows to the children and parents who are part of a nursery.
Recently, Linda Baston-Pitt, PurpleBee CEO and co-founder of the PANCo qualification, shared her blog, ‘Leading Well through Covid.’ She listed the three ‘Rs’ of early years:
- Reset: Reset leadership so that the focus is on empathy and understanding. Linda explained that now is the time to encourage positivity and compassion in leaders. ‘Leaders need to tap into their own emotional intelligence to make sure their teams come out of the crisis stronger.’
- Reconsider: It’s time to reconsider our priorities and involve the team in discussions about what really matters. Siobhan, Qualified PurpleBee PANCo said: ‘I have learnt how to create a setting with health and wellbeing embedded in all that we do and how it is essential to be someone who others can turn to for support and advice with health and nutrition.’
- Re-evaluate: Re-evaluating your actions and methods allows you to take a step back and make sure that what you are doing is based on sound evidence and advice. The most crucial part is communication. Asking staff what they need in a variety of ways will encourage staff to engage more and give honest feedback. Maintaining and improving positive relationships is absolutely vital.
The present-day working environment has changed but in many ways it is starting to change for the better. No matter the size of the nursery, there are plenty of ways to implement wellbeing initiatives to support staff and owners.