Building a positive workplace has become a crucial aspect of the early childhood sector as organisations and centres strive to retain high-quality staff amidst ongoing labour shortages. EC Workplace founder Nick Church says there is an increasing pressure on managers to ensure their workplace fosters a collaborative, safe and healthy working environment.
According to Nick, a greater awareness of employee rights, along with staff shortages, is contributing to a high turnover in some organisations and services. A growing awareness of the importance of early childhood education also highlights the need for a positive workplace, Nick says.
“A lot of people are becoming more aware of children’s need for high-quality early education, which for a long time has been viewed merely as childcare,” he says. Ensuring this education and care is delivered to children means fostering a consistent and confident workplace that supports staff and boosts morale.
Nick says human resources works as a preventative measure, putting in place policies and procedures, and training and awareness, to mitigate the likelihood of issues arising. “Industrial relations is more responsive,” he says. “It’s about knowing how to react when conflict or issues do arise.”
Most complaints in the early childhood sector involve interpersonal conflict, often exacerbated by increased workload and pressure due to the workforce shortages. “It’s incumbent on management to be aware of how to handle complaints at the outset,” Nick says. “They need to have a sound knowledge of their obligations and reach out to the appropriate peak body or service for professional advice and support, when needed. If issues that arise are acted on early, they’re less likely to develop into critical situations.”
It’s essential that management teams have good communication and are available to staff, according to Nick. “They should be transparent about their direction and place a strong emphasis on the values of the service,” he says.
EC Workplace specialises in providing early childhood services comprehensive support in all areas of industrial relations, human resources and management responsibilities. For more information, see www.ecworkplace.com.au.