Attracting and retaining high quality staff is a top priority for child care center owners and directors. It is challenging to find top notch people, so when you do find the perfect fit for your open position, you want to be sure you have an attractive employment offer for them, complete with employee benefits.

Unfortunately, providing Employee Benefits is a sensitive topic for many child care centers. Budgets are tight, and owners think they “can’t afford” to offer a bunch of perks to their employees. While you might not be able to afford HEALTH INSURANCE for your staff, there ARE lots of things you CAN offer.

This article is intended to give you a few ideas of things you could add to your “Benefits/Perks” package, AND to remind you of some things that you probably are already doing, but aren’t highlighting as an “Employee Benefit.” Sometimes all it takes is re-framing and emphasizing all the good things that you offer your staff in a nice little flyer (or on your website or in your hiring e-packet) to make a difference in how their wages/benefits are perceived. When you highlight the positive, they can see it more clearly.

Peruse this list and see what you can add or highlight to beef up your employee perks:

1.Life Insurance – did you know that it only costs about $3/month per employee to provide them with a $10,000 life insurance policy? That’s pretty darn affordable. Look into it!

2. Aflac or other Supplemental Insurance – Aflac (and other similar companies) provide supplemental insurance for when people are injured and out of work, or if they or their immediate family are sick and require home care and/or time off work. You could offer this as an option that you pay for OR make it available to them to choose if they want to have the cost deducted from their check. Some plans are super low….$30 per month.

3.Child Care Discount – Most centers are probably doing some form of a child care discount or free child care anyway! Make a big deal out of it. Highlight it on your benefits flyer, show them the VALUE of what they are getting by attaching a monetary amount to it

4. Paid Training Hours – Since, licensing requires all staff to have a certain number of training hours per year, you are already providing or facilitating this and paying them for their time. Highlight the fact that you are investing in your employees by providing paid training hours. When you frame this as a perk rather than a requirement, it helps to beef up that benefit list.

5. Continuing Education Support (T.E.A.C.H Scholarship) – If you have an employee that wants to put in the extra time and effort to get their CDA or further their education, help them out and promote that you are willing to do it. Become educated, yourself, on how to help your staff access the T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship…..they can get their CDA and/or College classes paid for using this. ALSO, you could opt to provide their entire CDA course work to them. There are several free or low cost ways to accomplish this. Your local Child Care Resource &Referral agency probably offers a free CDA course from time to time. And there are several low cost CDA programs online, such as at carecourses.com, where the entire program costs around $400, or www.cceionline.edu, where you can sign your employee up for unlimited CEU courses in a year’s time for $99. You can get creative and either pay for it all, reimburse upon completion, go halfsies, or pay up front and deduct $10/check so the employee doesn’t have to pay all up front. Whichever way you decide to do it, it only benefits you and your center to assist your staff to further their education.

6. Breakroom Stocked with Snacks and/or Special Staff Lunches – this is a huge trend in our group right now, and employees are loving it. Just by taking care of your staff and making sure some snacks are provided for them in the break room…..or by bringing them a special homecooked or catered lunch every Friday, staff are really feeling the love.

7. Meals Provided – If you provide food for the kiddos, make sure there’s enough for staff as well. You might already be doing this. If you are, re-frame it as an employee perk and add it to your benefits package.

8. A Budget for Classroom Supplies – One of the biggest complaints by teachers is that they usually have to spend their own money on buying the supplies they need to do projects with their students! You might already be providing classroom supplies, or keep a stocked art supply closet. But if you re-frame what you are already doing by providing each classroom a budget so they can pick out what they want to purchase, it can give your staff the peace of mind that you have planned for and will be providing what is necessary

9. Paid Planning Time out of the Classroom – This is a huge perk, knowing they get more than nap time to plan! Give your teacher an hour or two each week, where you schedule coverage for them to work on their lesson plans! The $15 extra dollars you spend on that one hour of time will be so well worth it, and will be evident with a happier teacher, a higher quality program, and a much lower turnover rate.

10. Direct Deposit, Weekly or Bi-Weekly Pay schedule – You are paying your employees anyway. You have a schedule and a process. It doesn’t matter what that process is, just point it out and tell them why it is awesome for them. If you pay by direct deposit highlight how it is more convenient for them because it’s done instantly. If you pay by paper check highlight how convenient it is for them to grab their check right from their cubby every Friday morning……just add it to your list and make a big deal about how it is great.

11. Either a Flexible Schedule or Regular Schedule – Same thing here. Whether your teachers work the exact same shift every day, or have a varied schedule list it as a perk and tell them why it’s awesome that you do it this way.

12. PTO, Paid Holidays – If you offer any type of vacation pay, holiday pay or other PTO, make sure to list it as a benefit….even if there is a waiting period before they can use it.

13. Birthday Celebration/Reward – Most bosses try to make a big deal about their employee’s birthday. If you can, offer a paid day off, get them a cake, post their pic on Facebook, give them a gift, do something to make them feel loved. And if you feel it’s a cool enough thing, add it to your benefits list.

14. Career Ladder/Pay Scale – You naturally have a way of moving up in your company. If you write out the steps, or levels, and the process it takes to advance you have a career ladder. If you feel like you don’t have enough positions (Asst. Teacher, Teacher, Director), then create some Committee Leaders, or Resident Experts and add them into your career ladder. You might have a “Social Media Resident Expert,” or a “Open House Committee Leader.” Staff want to see that there are opportunities to advance in your company.

15. Performance Bonuses – if you are able, you could provide employees with small bonuses when they reach 90% enrolled, or when their tour conversion rate reaches 75%. You can decide how you’d like to bonus them, but providing a little bit of a financial incentive to keep your center full makes them interested in doing so and puts a few extra bucks in EVERYONE’s pocket.

16. Staff Awards/Recognition – Reward your employees with positive recognition by having regular employee of the month awards, or contests for the best bulletin board. Promote this recognition as part of your benefits package. Make it seem like it is a super fun perk about working at your school.

You may have other things that you do to try to make your employee’s jobs better. Whatever you offer them, be sure to include it in your employee benefit list, and begin promoting your huge package of perks. Highlighting all of the great things you do for staff in a well thought out Employee Perks or Benefit Package will help you to attract and keep the best staff. If you’d like to learn more about this, see August’s Plug & Play Webinar in the KMIC Membership Area.