Working in the child care business means working in a very fast pace environment where information is constantly changing and misconstrued as it goes down the chain of command. This constant change of information makes communicating with your staff quickly get out of control, leaving you and your staff feeling unorganized and left out of the loop.
Efficient and effective communication with your staff is essential to ensure you and your team are running a successful childcare business. Thankfully due to technology, communicating with staff is easier than ever. However, as with all new technology, these new forms of communication come with flaws that sometime outshine their advantages. Email inboxes are constantly overflowing with small day to day issues that need to be addressed between staff
members. Majority of those topics don’t deem the priority of being sent as an email, not everyone was cc’d on that email that should be, someone forgot to forward that email to the next, it was sent to the wrong person, and so on. The issues with communicating on a daily basis with email adds up fast!
Fortunately, email is no longer the only means of professional communication between staff. There are a number of team communication apps that have been developed over the past few years and team based companies are loving them. They allow for fast pace communication between all staff members at once so no one is left behind or out of the loop. We took a look at the apps that are out there and selected what we think are the top five your child care staff should give a try!
This app allows team communication to be done quickly in one place. The admin of the Slack account can create as many different categorized channels and add as many staff members to those as they want. For example, there might be a General Information channel where announcements are made that pertain to all staff members, then there is a Leadership channel that is only used for communication
between the owner, directory, assistant direction and ect. Additionally, every staff member has their own individual channel where they can send and receive messages to and from any other team member that has their Slack account set up. This allows for quick communications to happen between staff, such as a teacher being informed of a change of pickup time for Sammy that day.
Slack also is great for sharing documents within chats. It allows for many cloud based document storing integrations to be used and Dropbox, making sharing files quick and easy. Also, if you ever forget which channel a file was shared in you don’t have to worry – there is a search box where you can run a keyword search for what you are looking for. The search box will pull any related files and messages sent within Slack from all channels. Additionally, there is a call feature that allows you to call or video chat any Slack user in your workspace. However, you cannot video conference with more than two users at once unless you have a paid plan.
Cost: Their $0 plan should have everything you are looking for to get started, but their other plans charge $6.67 or $12.50 per active user per month.
If you’re looking to find a way to easily communicate between multiple centers, Google Hangouts might be for you. Google Hangouts is primarily used as a video conferencing tool (it does allow for phone calls to be made and instant messaging too), which comes in handy for when you want to have face to face conversations with staff but can’t get to them.
This app also works great for setting up meetings with parents who can’t get away from the office to chat in person, online tours, conducting first round interviews with potential employees, and livestreaming webinars. Most people already have a Google account, so Google Hangouts is easily accessible for them, and if not all they have to do is make one to get started.
Cost: There is also no cost for Google Hangouts. The only time a fee is ever associated is when trying to make international phone calls to landlines.
Flock has very similar features to Slack when it comes to their channels and messaging. For those that equally want a fast, clutter free way to share information AND video conference with your team, Flock allows you to use their video conferencing feature for free for up to eight users. Users that have used both Flock and Slack say the two are different in their look and feel. Flock seems to be more cluttered with icons and features with information scattered throughout, while Slack has a more simplified
interface using more buttons to hide information. Multiple reviews suggest that because Flock is cheaper to use, you aren’t given as many customizable options and as clean of a a feell. However, if you’re team is simply looking for a method to send quick day to day communications with each other, Flock’s free version might be all you need.
Cost: $0 or $4.50 per licensed user per month (child care businesses probably only need the free version of this app).
Although Microsoft Teams probably isn’t an application to be used for quick day to day communications, it might be very useful to use within your leadership team. Microsoft Teams, like all the apps mentioned above, have audio, chat, video, and web conferencing abilities. The big difference with this app is that those features are able to be used between anyone inside or outside of your organization, allowing you to simplify your communications by doing them all in one place. Microsoft Teams is typically used for coauthoring and sharing files
with their Office 365 apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, and Power IB). Additionally, users have the ability to customize their workplace within Teams and integrate apps from both Microsoft and third-party partner services.
Cost: Starting at $5.00 per month and can go up to $12.50 per month depending on your needs (all annual commitments).
Monday is a space where planning, tracking, and collaborating can happen all in one place. Smaller schools might not need an app like this to help them stay organized, but for larger schools this will help everyone to stay updated on projects and understand what everyone is working on. Their application features timelines that are filled in by employees.This creates an overview of who is working on what and when, ensuring that all projects are mapped out within your staff so all projects are completed. Although this is another app that isn’t ideal for
quick day to day communications, because it allows each employee to see what the other is working on it does significantly help employees see how their individual efforts come together to accomplish a greater goal and increases team productivity.
Additionally, some features that make Monday stand out from the rest is how customizable it is – every aspect of a project or task created can be customized. It also allows for DropBox and Google Drive integrations and lets you copy and paste from Adobe (very helpful when creating marketing materials and wanting feedback from your staff). Just like the other applications previously mentioned, it is also completely searcharble and able to have tagged conversations between employees.
Cost: Starting at $25.00 per month and can go up to $118 per month (billed annually) depending on your needs, although their $39.00 a month plan is probably the sweet spot for child care businesses.
If your child care business uses any of these team communication apps or any that were not mentioned, comment below and tell us what you think of them!